Like with everything else related to multiple sclerosis, it makes no sense that this disease would turn me into an Olympic worthy gymnast. It makes no sense as my whole life I have been an athletically challenged clutz. I still remember clinging for dear life to the neck of my 3rd grade gym teacher as she tried to get me to flip over the uneven bars. Those things were high! She might as well have been telling me to jump off the water tower. With my panicked cries and the limited breathing my clutching her neck was causing, she finally put me down and let me skip that exercise.
Entering into the middle grades I thought I might play basketball. My grandfather had loved that sport and really, how hard could it be? My two memories of participating were of confusing the referees and saving a crucial game in an embarrassing way.
In the former, I was on the bench where I spent most of the games when the ball came right at me. I caught it and was quite proud. It was a good catch and I thought everyone in the stands would cheer. But apparently, as I learned, catching the ball when you are not on the court is not the way to play. Fans jeered and the refs got into a debate on how to fairly resume the game.
The latter incident consisted of an exciting match-up against our arch rivals and I was actually on the court, defending an opponent. I managed to keep the high scorer from getting the ball when a throw bounced directly off my head. I was dizzy and mortified as everyone laughed, but we won. I will take credit for that win, thank you very much.
I’m not sure how far back you can go in blaming MS for your clumsiness but as I have learned to do with many things MS, I will blame MS for everything. Weird then, that through the illness I have picked up some amazing gymnastic feats. For example, I have become an excellent flipper, the 3rd grade trauma non-withstanding.
Two years before the diagnosis, my then boyfriend was visiting and wanted some ice cream. As he only wanted a little, I got a mug down from the cupboard. Everyone knows that even if you fill it to the brim, and go back for seconds and thirds, ice cream served in a mug instead of a bowl has far less calories. But the quart of cookie dough was frozen solid and I didn’t want my new love to have to wait.
I also didn’t know the trick of running the metal scooper under hot water. Nor did I believe the trick about microwaving the whole quart for a few seconds. I struggled and struggled with the scoop until I formed a perfect ball of creamy sweetness. But I couldn’t get it out of the container. I pulled and pulled and the scoop of ice scream suddenly flew out of the quart, rose several feet in the air, did three flips, and landed dead center in the waiting mug. Amazing!
That was a 9.987 for difficulty and a 9.998 for execution. Hey Dorothy Hamil, take that and the silly haircut my mom made me wear in the 70’s-ha! But no one saw it. All my date witnessed was me laughing hysterically and trying to explain the reason for the giggles while also trying to breathe.
Recently, I was putting on mascara. Quite a brave feat for some MS’ers as Laurie has stabbed herself in the eye with the wand on many occasions. I was feeling brave though so I confidently applied my make-up. Suddenly, the wand shot out of my hand, again rose three feet in the air, did three flips and then wrote out my name on my back and on my floor. 9.854 for difficulty, 9.8675 for execution.
Ok, so maybe it is a stretch to say the wand spelled out my name. But as I looked at my left shoulder blade in the mirror, the splashes of brownish/black color took the rough form of a “y” and a “v”. Where the wand landed on the floor was a circle blotch “o”. Perhaps I have to keep working on that move to get the spelling of my whole name.
There is the sport of Falling Down Gracefully Without Getting Hurt and the Dancing Rhythmically Down the Bottom Portion of a Staircase if you Miss a Step or Two, sport. The staircase event is a little dangerous and I, for one, need some work to compete in that arena. And maybe protective gear. But I have also almost perfected the Elegantly Gliding Around Your Floor When You Spill Something Slippery On It competition.
Many MS’ers do okay in the balance beam events as long as spectators realize that the balance beam is actually the ground.
How come these feats of wonder aren’t worthy of a medal? How come we are only able to compete in them when we aren’t trying to? How come we aren’t being filmed at the time or witnessed in any way when we obtain the perfect aerial feat? It really sucks when you have this talent but no one is around to view it or believes you when you describe it.
Oh yeah, I forgot, it’s MS, of course it sucks.
Have you developed any Olympic skills since being diagnosed?