I’m a recent addition to this board and it’s a really great support network! Unfortunately, due to what it’s formed around, it is a bit bleak at the moment and it’s a tad depressing reading posts sometimes. I’m going to write down a few of the things that have happened to me this last year in the hope they bring a small smile to someone’s face.
A little on me first; I live in a tiny town called horobetsu now, a small town in northern japan with a few old people with tiny dogs walking the streets. My house in in front of a hydroelectric dam and a few miles away from a volcano. Racial diversity is not a thing here. It’s me, a white british male, and the japanese locals. It’s fair to say my situation is pretty close to what people imagine when they say the edge of the world. I was diagnosed with ms in april last year, age 22, 2 months before I was sent to teach Japanese elementary school kids to speak English. I landed in japan knowing no Japanese and with the direction to prepare an introduction on what hobbies I did for my first lesson.
Crap, I think, how am I supposed to do that? 2 years ago I was running, practising parkour, snowboarding, training with the university officer training corp and now a small walk is a pain! My symptoms are predominantly left leg weakness and dizziness, though a host of others kick in when im tired. So for my introduction, ok, I’ll lie. Armed with a few pictures from pre ms times I went to my lessons and gave my kids the impression I was Steven Redgrave. Pushing my pre ms self as me wasn’t doing me any favours and I had a bit of a crisis of self. I had always defined myself by the super active stuff I did, but here was me not able to do those things. Trying to look on the positive side of things, I thought I’d throw myself into what I could do. One of the teachers, Tatsda sensei, asked me if I played golf. Knowing full well that I didn’t, but that I had 2 arms and adjoining hands, I said I did, and we arranged to go to the driving range once a week. So here I was, going to the driving range once a week. I wasn’t very good and I normally called it a day after about half an hour, but I was enjoying it. My employers had also given me an old rickity bike to get around on, and getting about town saw me clocking up the miles. One day in March I talked two friends through their first day snowboarding. I might not be able to do it anymore but I can still use what I know to help people out. That same day I went hot air ballooning in a beautifully crisp winter morning. Most weekends I’ll find myself trying to do something new, visiting a factory or brewery of some sort or seeing some natural sight, be it a waterfall, mountain or whatever. I might take a taxi or two more than my contemporaries, but damn, I’m seeing these things! I recently travelled down to Hiroshima and had an amazing time seeing the peace museum and various shrines. If the kids ask me now what I do, I read, I bike, I travel and I play golf, and im not ashamed of that because I feel I’m still the adventurous person that does everything they can, even if those barriers have changed. MS might have changed my life, but it hasn’t changed me.
All the best to everyone on here, you are still you, don’t let MS let you forget it!
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