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Your MS Playbook vs. What Happens in Real Life
Prepare as we might for what MS may throw our way, when bad stuff happens, it’s as much about reaction as it is rehearsal.
By Trevis Gleason
In This Series
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It seems to be the season of team sports at the moment: professional, club, and international. From basketball to rugby, soccer, American football, hockey, and beyond, it’s a great time of year for sports fans.
In typical form, I can’t help but see a lesson about living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in it.
Most of us know that the hour or so these teams spend on the pitch (or court, or ice, or field) for a match is only a sliver of the time each player, coach, and team put into the effort. From physical training to creating tactical plans — which are called “set pieces” in Ireland and “plays” in American sports — we only see a bit of what these athletes go through to make themselves and their teams the best.
In particular, I’ve been thinking about those training sessions in the team room with whiteboards covered with the Xs and Os, multi-colored arrows, and scribbled notes on the edges that are the basis for a team’s strategy — their playbook.
The best tacticians draw up the plans for how players will attempt to make it past the opponent’s defenses and score. But it’s when the opposing side breaks up one of these set pieces that we see the great athletes and teams rise to victory.
It’s the same for those of us who live with multiple sclerosis.
When MS Feels Like an Opposing Sports Team
Just like a sports team, I have my own tactical strategy for getting through life with MS:
I do my morning inventory, I consult with my MS medical team as needed, I work through plans for difficult times with my wife, Caryn. I try to do my stretches and eat "right".
But no matter how well I plan — no matter the plays I’ve rehearsed — MS sometimes gets inside my defensive line. That’s when we have to play off-plan. That’s where all-star players are made.
The way MS finds the holes in our line that we didn’t even know exist makes this breakdown in play more common than I’d like to hope. Just when we think we’ve figured out a way around (or under, or through) something MS has put in our way, the next “MS thing” gets in our way. To win the day, we have to rely on past experience and lessons learned from the times before.
How to Step Up Your MS Playbook: Learn From Others
I’ve said before that smart people learn from their mistakes, while wise ones learn from other people’s mistakes. It’s like studying video of the opposing team playing another rival. We learn from how others have succeeded or failed under similar circumstances. That goes into the planning that makes up our playbook, but it also gives us insight as to how to make it through (or at least hold the line) when things fall apart.
Whenever a play falls apart and MS gets the upper hand, I’m glad that I can look around and see so many people on my “team.” Knowing that we’ve been through much of this before — together or alone — makes those first steps through a broken play a little bit easier. Thanks for being on our team.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
My book, Chef Interrupted, is available on Amazon. Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page, Twitter, and the Life With Multiple Sclerosis blog.
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