Rick's Thriving Statement
When it comes to how I “thrive with MS”, there is no single answer. God’s love, the support of my family, having a creative outlet (writing, in my case) and my support group are all key parts of what has kept me going since my diagnosis. None of those, however, translates well pictorially so I’ll talk about my other passion, one that has become an integral part of my therapy: bicycling.
Considering my MS has made skiing, running, and tennis pretty much out of the question, cycling has become my only outdoor exercise option. Due to fatigue, my rides had to be kept fairly brief; 7-10 miles was my average. I remember a ride in 2012 where after 8 miles, I thought I couldn’t go on. I sensed that MS was slowly sapping me of the strength I needed to continue this activity.
It was decision time. Either I accept the limitations I perceived were descending on me, or I fight back. Research shows that physical exercise has many great benefits for people dealing with MS. It fights depression, for which I’d been taking medication, and helps combat fatigue as well.
With little to lose and much to gain, I began a more rigorous and structured biking regimen. With the emotional, physical, and spiritual support of others – and the patience of co-riders who had to slow down so I could keep pace with them, I gradually increased the number and distance of my trips.
Biking is now a key part of my MS therapy. I’ve stopped the depression medication with no adverse effects. My walking and endurance have both improved. And this past year I’ve been averaging more than 60 miles a week on my bike, regularly making 20-30 mile rides. If the sun is out, I’m out. When the weather turns against me, I use an indoor exercise bike. For a few weeks during the dead of winter, I take a break to travel to Southern California to stay with relatives and continue biking.
I can honestly say I’m thriving with God and my bike!