Changing “I can’t” to “I can” – determination is key

Determination is one of the best qualities to which we all can aspire. Whatever our disease, condition, or disability, we can all try to have more determination in our lives.

It is that quality that changes “I can’t” to “I can”. It is about making every effort in life.

Of course, I am not talking about anything that is beyond our individual capabilities.

We might not be able to walk far, if at all, but is there anything we can do to make life easier not only for ourselves but also those nearest and dearest to us.

If we can find ways to get up after a fall, without needing help, we have made a good start. But finding ways to stop falling is even better.

In my own case, my mobility has been increasingly affected over the years. In gradual stages, progressive multiple sclerosis has taken its toll.

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Menai Suspension Bridge, from which I abseiled in 1997.

Thirty years ago, as an adult leader in the Scouts, I was an accredited mountain walking leader, went rock climbing and enjoyed abseiling. On one occasion, for a medical charity, I abseiled from the Menai Suspension Bridge in North Wales, UK.

Twenty years ago, my difficulties in mobility had begun. Walking was a task that no longer came naturally. I was forced to think about each and every step.

Fifteen years ago, my inability to left my left leg led to a diagnosis of MS.

Ten years ago, after several falls, I started using a walking stick/cane outdoors. This minimized falls but could not prevent them. A year earlier, I had found it impossible to continue working and so tried to find ways to help move about.

Determination to be independent

First, I tried mobility scooters but these were not deal for me. You see, scooters are designed to be driven using both your hands which did not suit my left arm and hand which are so weak that I cannot even use them to eat.

While continuing to use a walking stick for short distances, up to 10 yards or so, longer distances required a wheelchair. This was the only way to avoid falls

Initially, I tried a self-propelled manual chair but soon found that I needed to have someone push me. My weak left arm/hand meant I could make great left-handed circles but going straight just wasn’t possible.

This was followed by my first electric power wheelchair. Now, this gave independence when using it, with one-handed joystick control. However, I still needed help getting it in and out of my Chrysler Voyager. My beloved Lisa still had to manhandle a folding ramp, so it wasn’t ideal. In fact, she said that she’d rather push the manual chair than fight with the ramp.

So, how could I regain some independence and not cause more work for my nearest and dearest?

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The lightweight folding electric wheelchair that I use today.

The answer was surprisingly easy. I bought one of the lightweight folding electric power wheelchairs now on the market. This I can easily get into and out of the car using just one hand giving me independence to reach anywhere that has no more than a small kerb or step to overcome.

It means that now Lisa can choose to stay in our car, while I get out to run one errand or another.

For me, determination has paid off, and continues to do so. How about you?

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

Like These Athletes, We All Should be Putting Our Best Feet Forward

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It’s often said of the 2.5 million of people in the world who have multiple sclerosis that no two have the same symptoms. Indeed, that is why it is known as the Snowflake disease.

And the wide variety of symptoms can be well-illustrated by looking at examples of people at both ends of the mobility scale. At one end are those who cannot walk, or have great difficulty walking. At the other extreme, are those who manage to overcome their own difficulties and keep running — literally.

determinedLet’s take a brief look at some of those determined to be athletes, despite having MS.

In August 2015, on my personal website, I wrote a story about Kayla Montgomerya young American long-distance runner who competes despite having MS.

Seventeen months ago, I wrote: “Title after title, record after record have fallen to this young lady from North Carolina.

She says that during a race her legs go numb, starting with her feet and working upwards so she feels no pain but, of course, she gets hot from the exercise involved and that is something that all of us with MS know is going to exacerbate symptoms if only for a short space of time.

“At the end of each race, as she stops running, Kayla’s legs give way and she collapses into her coach’s arms. He carries her off the track and her temperature is brought back to normal using ice and water.”

In the Fall, the Paralympic games were held in Rio and Kadeena Cox, a determined British participant with MS, excelled. She won gold medals and world records as both a track athlete and a cyclist. I wrote about her achievements here.

Now, another person with MS is undertaking a massive and incredible challenge. Cheryl Hile is running seven marathons on seven continents in one year. You can read the details in an article that columnist Ed Tobias brought you in Cheryl’s story four months ago.

What all these athletes have in common is being determined to enjoy life and never give up. We all should have the same twin aims. No matter how we are affected by our multiple sclerosis symptoms, we all need to enjoy our lives and never, ever give up. Whether it’s running a marathon or taking just one step — and that is a figurative step — it is a step forward, an improvement, an improvement in your quality of life.

This article, written by me, was first published by Multiple Sclerosis News Today.

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ian-skype_edited50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease/disorder-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.