I Don’t Believe You
As a little kid, 40 felt like it was one step away from death. That was the age your parents and their friends “celebrated” with black balloons and they gave each other geriatric medical supplies. Clearly this was an age when the wrinkles and grey hair would set in. The next stop would be the home for the infirm. This year was the year that I turned that magical age. Death does not feel like it’s right around the corner and I am not ready to move into the nursing home.
“You don’t look like you’re 40.” This is a thing that a nice woman said to me recently, and I didn’t even have to pay her to say it. It always feels good to beat people’s expectations.
For the past 11 years I’ve been beating other expectations. I started experiencing blurred vision, and tingling in my hands and legs in the summer of 2004. My immune system had turned on me and started attacking my nervous system. After several tests, including a spinal tap, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2005. The damage that’s been done to my spinal column will never be repaired, but I’m doing everything I can to prevent any more damage from being done.
By keeping my disease at bay, I’ve exceeded people’s expectations of what a woman living with MS looks like. When I tell people that I have MS, the response is usually, “You really have MS?”. They expect someone with MS to be in a wheelchair or to have slurred speech, and I have none of these. My symptoms are not visible to the naked eye: my fingers will tingle, words are hard to find, and I get exhausted easily. Thankfully these symptoms are absent most of the time and I’m able to go about my life.
This year I will be riding in the Twin Cities Bike MS ride on May 7. It is a 25-mile bike ride to raise money and awareness of MS. My goal is to raise $4000 for the MS Society. As an incentive and a thank you for those who support my team, Saint Kate’s Cycling Saints, I am staging a one-woman bake sale. It works like this:
$40 donation = 1 dozen Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies
$80 donation = 2 dozen Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies
$100 donation = You call the cookie and I’ll bake a batch for you.
Donations can be made online at www.tinyurl.com/stkate2016. Your donations go to the Upper Midwest MS Society to help fund research and help those with the disease.
40 isn’t a death sentence and an MS diagnosis doesn’t automatically mean a wheelchair. Your support of my bike team and the MS Society will help other people with MS exceed expectations.
“Saint” Kate Malmon