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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Department of Neurology
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Timothy L. Vollmer M.D.
Department of Neurology
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
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MS: Not a Win-or-Lose Game

By Trevis Gleason

MS is like a relegation sport. I’ve often said that living with MS isn’t a death sentence — it’s a life sentence.

What I mean by that is that (in most cases) we quite literally don’t die from multiple sclerosis, we die with MS. We are sentenced to a life of living with this disease, and that means trying to find a way over, under, around, or through the mountains that are dropped in our paths.

Different Games, Different Ranking Systems

Maybe it’s because of two sporting events that converged this weekend, but I’m beginning to think of this “living with MS” thing another way as well. The NCAA basketball tournament just ended, with my “local” team making it all the way to the finals. And my local GAA football team fell through some unexpected cracks and has made it to the finals, too.

The tournament style of play that I’ve been used to in America for my whole life was a win-or-go-home game. No second chances. You are judged on your performance of the day, and it doesn’t matter by how much you win or lose a game. You either win or you lose.

In the play of many other sporting contests, aggregate scores, bonus points for goals scored away from home, and spread of a victory or loss can all add up to a “winning” side losing in the long run.

And then there is relegation.

My Kerry GAA football team is in division I, but we were dangerously close to relegation to division II this past Sunday as we hadn’t performed all that well in the league this year. If the Kingdom (as we’re known) had lost, and two other teams won their games, we would have been sent down to the lower tier for next year.

I’m happy to say that we won — by a large margin — and those other teams lost big, so we somehow went from fearing that we might slip a division to being catapulted to the championship match.

How MS Is Like Relegation Sports

In my view, living with MS is like relegation sports — first in that both can be so damned difficult to explain, particularly to someone accustomed to thinking in terms of winning or losing.

Another similarity is that in both, there are many factors that determine the outcome of a season, not just how many games in which we were victorious.

A third is that those of us living with MS may be on a good or bad track of it with our lives, but then something out of our control occurs that quashes our hopes and changes our outlook. In that way, we are not unlike those teams who thought they might have a chance to make the finals but lost — and so did someone else, and another team won by a large margin, and suddenly that once-hopeful team is headed down a division.

And finally, the whole world seems to focus on division I, don’t they?

Relegated, but Still Playing the Game

I feel like I have been relegated due to my overall aggregate scoring history with MS, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not still in the game. Simply because my body and mind don’t let me play at the championship level, I haven’t given up, nor do I no longer find joy in the game.

I may have been relegated to division II (or maybe even division III!), but I still strap on my boots and give the ball whatever kicks I can — and that’s still taking part in the sport.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EVERYDAYHEALTH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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