So, infusion day is over, but I’m getting a bit nervous right now. For this month I have a plan, something for which I am trying to find the courage the past year or so. As a former ski instructor, after 3 years of MS I would love to try skiing again but unfortunately the timing to make this happen is quite difficult. Every month I get my medicine but it only gives me about 2 weeks the opportunity to do ‘something fun’. Sometimes there was a day when I could conclude in the evening, “today was actually good, today I could have tried”, but then the moment had passed. Also, months went by when there was no good day at all. Overall, skiing was still “out of my league.”
Why it is so important to me to try skiing again? Well because in my ‘previous life’, before MS, skiing was more like my second nature. As of 2001 I was a full-time ski instructor for several years and afterwards still on a weekly basis for fun. I was teaching both in the Alps as indoor during winter and summer. 3 Years ago I was still on the slopes and a month later I got my first MS attack out of the blue. 6 Months later I walked indoors with a walker from the living room to the kitchen and another 6 months later I was using my electric wheelchair in the house. In short, within a year from ski lift to stair lift. Could the contrast be even bigger?
Almost 3 years went by and given the physical condition the past years, I’m actually doing pretty well now. Okay I need heavy MS meds but at the moment the disease activity is under control. I do have residual damage in my brains which will not recover, but I must not complain. The wheelchair is in the closet for a year now, I got my drivers license back and I can walk short distances again. With rehabilitation and a lot of (ballet) exercises at home I practiced the moves, control and coordination of my legs and feet again.
The desire to teach skiing to my own kids is still there. I taught so many children, but not my own. If it hurts? Yes, very. But skiing together with my kids is an illusion that I should try to let go. First, let’s start with the big question; am I able to ski again? My feet are feeling quite disturbed as they have permanent damage, they always tingle and it feels like my shoes are filled with sand and I feel tight rubber bands across my feet and knees. Just as my lower legs, but there I also have neuralgia sometimes and touching the skin can be painful. My right thigh has a bundle of muscles which doesn’t properly works and which has to be compensated while walking by the other muscles. Skiing is physically a different movement. And am I able to ‘hang in my ski boots’ when my shins are so painful to touch? But on the other hand, my feet are fixed in the solid ski boots, just like the walking brace I wear and I don’t have to make a walking motion. Sooo… let’s just better find out! Thumbs up, skiing could therefore be going pretty good, maybe even better than walking 🙂
Anyway, in the past I practiced the techniques until I was fed up with it and the arts of sport is to make something difficult look easy peasy. I know that how I look on the outside doesn’t correspond with how I feel and experience everything. People see me ‘just’ walking. Well, let’s continue with ‘that trick’ and make skiing look very easy 😉 Even though it hurts, even though my body doesn’t do what my mind wants it to. Even though just the touch of the shoes hurts, I just picture myself wearing very comfortable boots. And when and if the time comes that my legs can no longer carry me? No idea, we’ll just find out and see 🙂 “No Guts, No Glory!”
I did it!
With a former colleague, I agreed to go on the slope after hours together with a team, so that I don’t have to watch out for inexperienced skiers and just focus on myself. An MS girlfriend went with me to help me carry the stuff and so I don’t have to drive. It comes in handy that she can take some pictures while she’s with me 🙂 But boy, lots of preparations and nothing is for granted nowadays.
Before I get on the conveyor belt lift I remember to practice the ‘getting off’ before I actually get on the lift. I need to remember that the ‘new me’ cannot assume that my feet will step off the lift when I plan to. I decided to skip the plow turns (too forced position in my case) and carefully start off with stem turns. Calmly cross the slope in parallel position, make a turn with a plow and smoothly slide one ski back next to the other and crossing the slope again. Seriously… very exciting, but I did it!! My friend recorded me and afterwards we couldn’t help ourselves having a little moment of tears. I continued trying for about 20 minutes, used some high-low moves and I dared to use the drag-lift to the larger slope among the other skiers. Proud to say that I ended up doing parallel turns. No, unfortunately no short turns or carving. Those techniques are physically really not feasible yet or maybe never. But… I could give it a try for practice! My legs didn’t fail and I didn’t need to be in the wheelchair the rest of the day or week (which I was a little concerned about). Secretly, I’m a little proud of myself. Yay! 🙂