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Getting diagnosed with multiple sclerosis usually takes time. For some, it takes years, even decades. For others it might take months waiting for signs of progression before a neurologist will commit to a diagnosis and start treatment. But recent research has found that the earlier treatment is started—as of this writing there are 13 approved disease-modifying treatments in the US for MS—the better. “Real-world data … confirm the effectiveness of the early treatment strategy in delaying the accumulation of irreversible disability in RRMS patients,” said the October 2017 study.
Yes, “irreversible disability” is as bad as it sounds. You don’t want that. You really don’t want that. But getting in the way of prompt treatment is the fuzziness of an MS diagnosis, a methodical and laborious process of elimination.
After I sprinted face-first into a tree playing kickball in 7th grade, a few things immediately ran through my twelve-year-old brain. One, that friggin hurt. Two, maybe I shouldn’t have just lectured my teammates to try harder to catch pop flies in my tree-littered front yard. And three, my future as an international spy was over.
As blood from my lower lip was staining my shirt at an alarming pace, my mom tried to calm me down. But it’s hard to calm down when your life’s career plan just careened off a cliff. (And have you noticed that one always “careens off a cliff” never off a small ledge into a field of flowering poppies.) The hole in my lower lip needed stiches, multiple stitches. And as the doc was tugging needle and thread through my puffy face, he announced that, yes, it would leave a mark. A scar. I was distraught.
I should have been tipped off when our Slovenian guide looked me at as if my head had just sprouted a glow-in-the-dark unicorn horn studded with bedazzled rhinestones perfectly placed by a unicorn horn bedazzler (as seen on TV, I’m guessing).
“Yes, the cave eez technically wheelchair accessible,” she said, pronouncing each syllable of “technically” with intent. She tried to illustrate the steepness of the path through Postojna Caves with her hand. Her palm was a few degrees shy of vertical. Laura was thinking, clearly, it couldn’t be that steep. After all, there were people on our tour who did not appear to be mountaineers. Meanwhile, obviously, I was thinking one thing: game on.
|This MS news will knock you off your feet.|
By the end of this blog post, some of you are really going to hate me. I won’t take it personally. After all, there is some good news with the bad news. Sorta like hearing that you get free hot dogs (yeah!) … but that you have to eat a dozen of them, buns and all, in ten minutes. Clearly, if your name is not Joey Chestnut (his record is 70), you might be in big trouble. And if you can manage to gag them all down, it’s gonna hurt bigly.
Long story short, last month more research was released investigating the benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and multiple sclerosis. In the randomized clinical trial, MS researchers pitted high intensity cardio exercise (3x per week for 20 minutes with five 3-minute exercise intervals at 80% of peak oxygen uptake) against a traditional exercise program (5x per week for 30 minutes at a constant 65% effort).
The other day I was out cranking it on the bike trail. It wasn’t an epic ride—the 20 mile mark still manages to elude me—but I put in a solid 13 miles over a couple of hours, decently impressive on an arm trike in 90-degree heat. And then I ran into Beth. You know, that Beth.
“Dave!” It was Beth Ulibarri, aka @MilesAndTrials, aka Ironman Beth. She also happens to be a fellow active MSer, only with a bit more emphasis on the “active” part. We all know of Beths, those absolute studs in the MS world that defy the disease with an athletic prowess that impresses even the pros (she has trained with our resident pro triathlete Kelly Williamson).