Sunday, December 28, 2014

An Unwanted Christmas Gift from MS

My family tradition consists of a big meal and the opening of gifts on Christmas Eve and then an abundance of snacking and lounging and the playing of games on Christmas Day. This year, we spontaneously decided to mix it up a little and go bowling on the evening of Christmas Day, since we had wanted to go bowling over Thanksgiving but never got around to it.

Bowling was something I never did more than once or twice a year growing up through early adulthood, and it's something I haven't done at all in probably 8 or 9 years. I definitely haven't gone bowling since MS entered my life. I was never an amazing bowler, but I was always a pretty decent bowler. Various people in my life like to talk about how I am a natural athlete, and I guess I admit that this is true. Most athletic endeavors come fairly easily to me. I spent most of my childhood playing basketball, baseball, soccer and various made up sports in the backyard and with neighborhood kids.

I didn't really give it any conscious thought beforehand, but I really assumed I would bowl just as decently as I ever did. After all, I'm doing pretty okay physically these days. The MS symptoms that plague me on a daily basis are things like pain and fatigue and various tingles. I look pretty healthy and able-bodied, and sometimes I even convince myself that I am these things. Anyway, I did basically bowl pretty well, not great by any means, but not terrible either. One strike, a few spares, a handful of 9s. But very early into the game the MS made very clear to me that things are not as they were and I am not quite as able as I thought I was.

My second frame, I fell. I hit the ground hard and had a tough time getting back up. None of my people saw me fall, so it felt very lonely somehow, yet I felt the humiliating certainly that everyone else in the bowling alley saw me and was silently laughing (even though I know rationally this probably wasn't true). Yes, bowling shoes on the wood floors can be a little slippery, but this was more than that. It was about balance. It was about no longer being at home in my body the way my "athletic" former self was. It was about the MS wanting to forcefully remind me that it was in charge.

After that frame, I bowled cautiously and somewhat awkwardly. I was careful. I thought about balance, not about form and power and the desire for the perfect strike. I somehow managed to do okay despite this, but I didn't do nearly as well as I could have. And the joy of the physical action was gone. I've always found joy in athletic pursuit of all kinds. There was a joy in releasing the ball, in seeing it strike. MS robbed me of that joy. And then on the last frame, despite my caution, I fell again. Merry Christmas to you too, you stupid disease.

I still managed to mostly have a good time. I did my best to get out of the depressing spiral in my head and instead focused on enjoying being with my family, especially my sistar Traci and my special niece Kylie, neither of whom I get to spend nearly as much time with as I'd like. The best part of the evening was Kylie's last frame. After some frustration and experimentation with different methods from the "granny style" underhand roll to using the metal frame tool for kids, she tackled that last frame with determination and used the "adult" method. That ball rolled perfectly straight down the lane and knocked into those pins head on. It wasn't a strike, but it was pretty darn close, and it was beautiful.

1 comment:

Traci said...

I was hoping you'd write this! <3