Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Memory is a Matter of Perspective

Have you ever gone back to your childhood home to see the place you thought you'd never forget? I will bet your first impression was one of shock at how small the place is. You remembered it being much larger. But then you realize that last time you saw the place you were 8 or 10 or whatever and it WAS much larger because you were much smaller.

I had a similar experience this morning.

Six years ago when my son was only seven, he wanted to play T-Ball. We got the uniform, the bat, the shoes and all the other stuff you need to be a good t-ball player and good t-ball spectator and we managed to make it through one season before he decided it was not for him. He played right field and spent most of his time dancing with his shadow or watching birds and wasn't really into the game all that much.

I had been dealing with my MS for five years by that point. A cane was a permanent part of my wardrobe, and when I went grocery shopping I rode in one of their electric carts to get around the store.

I wanted to be involved in my son's life and encourage him in whatever he chose to pursue so I attended all the games despite the size of the sports complex and the fact that it was spring/summer in Florida which means sweltering heat and humidity.

It all ended after that first summer. He said he didn't want to do it any more and I was secretly relieved because it took so much out of me physically. It was such a huge place and just getting from the car to the field he played on (bottom left in Google image below) seemed like I was trying to climb Mt. Everest or cross the Grand Canyon on foot or something. It was a monumental task that often required rest stops along the way with occasional assistance from other spectators.

We had no reason to return to that ball field for the next several years until he started middle school. We got to choose which school we wanted him to attend despite our zoning and we chose the best one in the county. Unfortunately that meant a daily drive of over an hour to get him there and back. The trip was shortened dramatically when he started riding the bus which met us (and about 30 other families) half way. Where was the bus stop? The parking lot of that sports complex.

This is my son's 3rd year at that school and so for three years I have been parked in that parking lot which is surrounded by trees and hedges which obscure the actual sports complex. You have to walk past them to see the grounds.

Curiosity got the better of me this morning. I've been wanting to see how easy it would be to walk all around the grounds and it just so happened that an errand I was running took me past the sports complex during mid-morning when very few people were around.

I parked at the corner of the lot closest to the entry and got out. I had my smart phone loaded up with music and my ear buds in, ready to break a sweat walking all around the place.

As soon as I rounded the first hedge and looked down that never ending sidewalk I was stunned. The sidewalk wasn't long at all. Maybe a city block or so. Could it be that they've added things and shortened the walkway? Hmmm Everything still was as I remembered, just a lot smaller. No new diamonds, no new b-ball courts, same old concession stand.

I pressed on. I came to the "T" where I recall I would sometimes have to step off the path and set up my lawn chair to rest more often than not. I turned around, puzzled, and looked back to the parking lot.

Really?? That was as far as I could make it before? I was in total shock. The other sidewalk leading off of the T was not nearly the trek I recalled either.

After the shock of seeing the place I began to cry. I was so sorry for my old self and so happy for my new one. Tears turned quickly to smiles as I picked up the pace and made four laps around all of the connecting walkways and headed back to the car.

I never even broke a sweat.

It was one of the most telling and dramatic moments I have experience since starting on Gilenya. "You've come a long way, baby" doesn't even begin to express how I feel.

I might have gotten older in years, but I feel so much younger today than I did back then. Wow. Amazing to me how easily I slipped right back into taking even simple things like walking unaided for granted. I don't ever want to forget where I came from because I might miss out on feeling the sheer awe of what I can do now.

There's so much that is spectacular about "normal", "average", "boring" and "mundane". If you have the luxury of experiencing that, you are truly blessed.


  1. I love this, Jeri! I cried a little bit, and I cheered for you, too, LOUD! - and I so appreciate the reminder not to take anything for granted. I needed that today.


  2. Hi Jeri. Wow! I can so relate it is scary. I haven't taken the time to notice things like this lately, but I have them, too. I remember going to eat out with family once, pre-fingolimod. It was at a little tea-garden, and even though they parked the car really close for me, I was exhausted by the time I got my walker to our table. Now, I drive my own car, hop out, and walk over briskly, not even noticing the cobbles in the garden. How things can change. We are so blessed. I shudder to think how the past four years could have turned out otherwise. Maggie.

  3. I'm super happy for you! and you're absolutely right; we have to notice and appreciate when we feel good and are doing well. :)
    I started taking gilenya august 3, after taking avonex for about 8 years. Unfortunately, I'm not doing so well, and the timing coincides with when I started gilenya. No side effects, but my MS symptoms are quite a bit worse than before. This SUCKS because I hate needles, so I'm really really hoping things will improve. We'll see.
    Just thought i'd share some reviews of gilenya from patients (on web md). Some are doing great, and some are not. I guess it depends on your body chemistry and such.



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