The Importance of Flexibility When Living With MS

Originally found in: Everyday Health

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The Importance of Flexibility When Living With MS

July 5, 2018: by Trevis Gleason 

It’s a good idea for everyone to stretch every day. It’s particularly important for people living with MS to have a regular stretching routine. I’ve said that before, I try to live by my own advice, and I’m saying it again.

We — all of us, not just people with multiple sclerosis — also need to stretch ourselves in mental, emotional, and intellectual ways as well, as long as we don’t keep searching for the edge of the envelope only to fall off.

Having a Plan B for a Day’s Activities

We’ve learned that plans need a secondary (and, oft, tertiary or even quaternary) back-up in the case of disease or symptom activity. This is particularly so in the summer months, when many of us experience Uhthoff's phenomenon, a recurrence or worsening of symptoms when the temperatures climb.

But even when it’s not for the heat, we have become yoga masters at bending schedules.

Starting times are made to slip, small tasks become major undertakings, we move deadlines closer to accommodate MS slip, and we take pains to advise our hosts of potential issues well in advance. Like a distant relative’s uncouth pet taking up your spot on the sofa, MS is something with which we must learn to bite our lip and soldier on.

Having a Plan B for One’s Path Through Life

I have learned the art of the tactical retreat — the “fall back and regroup” approach to life as my MS progresses. It’s a helpful tactic, but just like the ounce of prevention being better than a pound of cure, advanced and flexible planning is far more efficient than being forced to pull back and reassess.

I don’t like having to be this flexible — to put so bloody much effort into things others take as a given. The alternatives, however, are far less attractive still.

They would leave me either falling off rigid schedules with no place to go, or not engaging with the world around me by not accepting invitations at all.

Then we’re back to the physical stretching and flexibility analogies. If I don’t keep doing it, things will become increasingly difficult to the point of pain and the loss of ability.

Not an option.

So, I’ll stretch my body. I’ll stretch my mind. I will keep trying to reach my shoelaces, and I’ll continue to make plans and live the best life I can — even if it’s not the life I’d choose first.

Wishing you and your family the best of health.