Monday, July 14, 2008

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Take Me Out With The Crowds.....

Wait, I don't really like crowds. But I did go out to a ballgame yesterday.

Here in DC, the Washington Nationals has a new ballpark and this was my first opportunity to see it firsthand. Friends of ours are in a unique position with access to season tickets to various sporting venues around town. This is due to changes in the lobbying laws which now prohibit treating business associates and congressional employees to entertainment events.

Another group of friends decided to join us and purchased tickets in the adjacent section. Fortunately for me, their seats were a little higher up and in the shade. I managed to work myself into a seat with them instead of sitting in the direct afternoon sunlight along the first base line.

I was actually nervous about going. See- my legs sometimes become 50lb logs, while they are also as flimsy as a marionette's legs, after a good walk. I'm going to have to break down and purchase my own cane someday. I've borrowed my Sweetie's mother's cane on a few occasions, but at times like yesterday I usually take my Sweetie's hand and that provides me with some of the support I need, both physically and emotionally.

One wrinkle in our master plan came when our friends tried to help us out and make our day easier. As we were getting stuck in heavy DC traffic, I called one of the friends who had a 'sounded great at the time' plan to have us park somewhere and they would pick us up. We had planned on parking near the L'Enfant metro station and taking the train to the ballpark which is only two stops away. Their tickets included a parking pass in one of the lots at the stadium. It turned out that their designated lot was at least 3 blocks from the entrance whereas the Navy Yard metro station is only 1 block away.

By the time we reached the stadium entrance, I was more than ready to sit and rest. My legs felt weak and when I closed my eyes for a bit, I was weeble-wobbling. We rested a little in the shade while waiting for one of the group to go gather some goodies for the game. Then we proceeded to walk at least 2 blocks around the seats to find our section only to be presented with the overhead sun. I saw our other friends and stated,"I want to sit here next to Zoe." And so I did.

Funny thing with MS and symptoms, they tend to come and go frequently and unexpectedly. By the time I arrived at the stadium, I felt as though my legs were done for. I could no longer feel them and was concentrating very hard not to trip with my right toes dragging. But after a little rest in the shade while waiting for the one guy, I was able to walk much more easily to our section. I found the flow and glided.

Now before you go thinking that I am completely crazy to subject myself to such a challenging situation with the heat and all, I brought along an MS survival kit of sorts. I packed a soft-sided thermal bag with several blue ice/gel packs which I received from MSAA (Multiple Sclerosis Association of America) and their cooling program. I left the flack-jacket at home, choosing to go the individual ice pack route. Also included in the bag was a larger frozen pack which had been used to keep my Copaxone injections chilly during delivery. This frozen block made sure that the others on hand stayed as cold as possible.

Also included in my all-important survival kit was a fan. It only measures about 4" squared, but this battery-operated fan was an absolute necessity. It was a Target clearance rack find at the end of the summer season just a couple of years ago. The cost was less than $2, truly a bargain. I used that fan on myself throughout the game in addition to strategically placed ice packs. I managed to stay reasonably comfortable during the game with the help of these and some cold refreshments.

The Washington Nationals were losing to the Houston Astros for the entire game, so we decided to leave during the 8th ending. At first I felt stiff, then things loosened up a bit. By the time we reached the front gates, my legs were heavy as lead again. My Sweetie asked if I wanted to rest and my brain was so foggy that I couldn't find an answer. Instead I said that I just wanted to concentrate on my walking to the metro station. We made it there with many of the other fans who were attempting to avoid the rush. Well, we were part of that rush and the subway cars were packed to standing room only. Sweetie became my stabilizer when the metro stopped or changed directions so I avoided hitting the floor.

To make it back to where our car was parked, we chose to walk after arriving at L'Enfant. This added yet another 5-6 blocks to our footed travels. At one point I had slowed down to the speed of molasses and the Sweetie suggested that I wait while he went ahead to go get the car. Now all the ladies out there probably will say, "Ahhhh, that's a great guy." What do you think I replied? "But that would prevent me from being able to say that I made it all the way back to the car." So he suggested we pause for a moment. When I began to be able to feel part of my legs again, we continued.

Just a little bit of rest and I was good to go. Well....good enough anyways. Once in the car I said,"Yay me!! Yay you!! Yay us!!" I thanked him for being so patient with me and so supportive. We discussed a lady at the metro station who was in such a rush she jumped in line when the ticket machine was giving him some trouble. How rude. He also shared that he had to try hard to be patient. I asked when and he referred to our walk from the metro station to the car. He was in a hurry and I was slow. He said that he just needs to get used to it, that sometimes he has to slow down for me. I told him that I had no idea, that he wasn't sending out impatient vibes.

He is growing in our MS relationship for which I'm truly blessed. I thanked him for his support and understanding. His response? After taking my hand in the car, "Well, of course, my Sweetheart. I think you did a fine job today. Did you enjoy yourself?" Yes, I did.

I went to a ballgame in a brand new ballpark and walked at least a mile in short spurts without falling over. Last night my muscles, especially at the top of my hips, were sore from the exercise. This morning those same muscles are less sore and my spasticity was a little less. I need to exert myself much more often; it would be good for me. Only real downside to all of this physical activity yesterday? I've fallen asleep at least 5 times today while trying to write and type this post. I'll come back later to reread and fix any errors I've missed.

"One, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game."


  1. Good for you! Here I was feeling sorry for myself because lately I have been having MS symptomst hat get in the way of things like arm balances in yoga. I have it good, it just gets hard to remember sometimes.

  2. Yay you guys!!

    I haven't been to a pro ball game since I was 10 and Dad took us to Jarry Park in Montreal to see the Expos play Cincinnati (I think) was a long time ago...before the Big O stadium.


  3. Hi! Lisa
    Congrats on your determination.
    I'm too chicken now to go out for very long during the day when it's hot .
    I'm able to walk long distances but I sure pay for it the next day. Weak and brain dead usually.

    Also your comment about MS symptoms coming and going is very true for me.

  4. Watch out - someone's going to call you an inspiration.

  5. Oh no, nobody's threatened to call me an inspiration for awhile now. Them those flattery words.

    Does it become less inspiring if I admit to being semi-brain dead for a couple days? Not to mention that I 'tripped' in the driveway on Tuesday.

    But it was all worth it, and Nadja, I still think I've got it pretty good. For you it might be arm balances. For me at one point it was the fine coordination and strength in my left hand, specifically finger 4, which MS borrowed. As a pianist it was rather scary and frustrating. But MS has never taken my music away.

  6. Ahhh, Washington DC in the summer. I'd almost forgotten what that was like... I haven't forgotten about the traffic though. Aren't the National games at RFK? Or did they build a new stadium?

  7. Funny thing with MS and symptoms, they tend to come and go frequently and unexpectedly.

    So true...I do not know what I would do dealing with the come and go and frequently and unexpectedly without the understanding of my husband.

    It is always a victory when we can enjoy an outing without leaving because of symptoms of MS.