The next time I got a taste of a relapse, though I didn’t know it at the time, was around about July 2016.
I was in the midst of my Body Coach phase. I was in Cycle 2, which involved GVT, or German Volume Training. On this particular day, I was squatting. 10 sets of 10 at 20kg was what was ordered by Mr Wicks, and that I was going to do.
I was hitting it pretty comfortably until my 8th set. My legs just went to jelly. I managed to complete my 10 sets but there wasn’t a hope in hell that I’d be following up with 10 sets of 10 walking lunges. Nu-uh. Not a chance.
As I walked out of the gym, I was acutely aware that my legs felt like they were going to give way underneath me, and I seemed to have lost all control over my left leg. It was flapping all over the place like a flag in the wind.
“It’s ok,” I told myself. “10 for 10 is a pretty tough target and your range was probably about 80% there so you’ve probably just over exerted yourself.”
In an effort to right my problems with my leg, I booked into some sports physio sessions. After two he seemed pretty happy he’d done all he can and sent me on my way with a list of exercises to carry out which would aid my recovery.
In my next personal training session, I told Sam what had happened. I was forever telling her about all the weird things that my body did so she probably thought “here we go again!” I never told her these things for her to go easy on me, or to get an easier ride. I just felt she should know if she was training me.
It was on this day that she noticed a weird unexplained spasm in my left leg. As soon as I put any weight into it, it was shaking like there was hundreds of kilos of pressure. Around the same time I was doing a lot of skipping and boxing training in my sessions with her, and I was struggling to hold in my need to go to the toilet which was a completely new thing to me (I’ve not had kids. That’s not a problem for me yet!)
In addition, my whole groin area had that same tingling sensation that I’d experienced in my leg for the previous four years or so.
But there’s an explanation for that isn’t there?
Obviously what I’d done that day I was squatting, was I’d trapped a nerve in my lower back and all sense of anything had been lost. Hadn’t I?
And that’s when I had my first “accident”.
I honestly cannot believe I’m about to share this next bit, but in the spirit of really telling my story and also telling you what MS has been like, and will continue to be like for me, it’s only right I tell you the full story.
If you don’t like toilet talk, look away now!
I cannot explain to you what it’s like to lose control of your bowels at 29 years old. It is terrifying. It is embarassing. It is confusing. 29! This shouldn’t be happening until I’m at least 79 surely?!
I couldn’t stop shaking and it really did upset me. I was hysterical, because to make matters worse it happened in public. Me and Dave were out shopping in Sainsbury’s. I managed to run off to the toilet and I text him asking him to get wipes and a change of clothes and to ask a female shop assistant to chuck it into the toilets for me.
Admitting that this happened (and this didn’t end up being an isolated incident) is not something that’s easy, even now, even with an explanation for it.
Of course, I made all the excuses at the time, even when Dave told me that it’s not normal and I should go to the doctor I brushed it off.
“I’m doing Joe Wicks. I’m on a high fibre diet”
“Ahh I had last night’s cottage pie warmed up in the microwave, maybe I didn’t do it properly”
“It’s where I’ve trapped a nerve. I can’t work out when I need to go because I can’t feel it”
I was full of excuses.
I quickly got very attuned to myself though and managed to avoid too many more incidents. It put a spanner in the works of our social life for a while though because I was so scared of getting caught short again. I didn’t want to stray too far from home and never within a certain window of eating. The fear was very real.
This phase probably lasted for a good couple of months. My left leg continued with the mind of it’s own. Not painful, but certainly irritating.
And I looked bloody ridiculous much to the amusement of EVERYONE. My word how we laughed at me. Two of the people who laughed most have said they feel awful, now we know why, but that doesn’t bother me. I’ve got to find the funny side in all of this. It’s what keeps me going.