I just… felt like Running.

“Nobody ever mentions the weather can make or break your day”

It’s great drying weather out there. The clock’s have sprung forward and it couldn’t have come quick enough. The inevitable “There’s a great stretch in the evening” memes are more than welcome this year. Honestly, it’s felt like a Game of Thrones type of Winter with no end in sight. Being Irish, we should be prepared for all kinds of bad weather yet we batten down the hatches at the first sight of rain and I’m as guilty as anyone.

Yesterday saw the first real sunny day of the year and I knew I had to capitalise on it. Between the constant rain and snow, the opportunities to go for a run have been few and far between. The less active I am the less active I want to be. Inactivity creates lethargy. First thing’s first, I put the washing out on the line to dry; this was too good an opportunity to miss. No sitting in the kitchen drying on the clothes hoarse for this wash!! Then, I got my running gear ready, done the obligatory few minutes of stretches to get the blood flowing and body heated, and off I went.

Even as I set off I had no idea which route I would take. I was just glad to get out. For the day that was in it I decided to run to Clontarf. I knew even before I got there that I would see family’s out and about, with their children and dogs, cyclists, other runners, the abundant variety of birds hovering on the shoreline and, of course, the Poolbeg Chimneys majestically overseeing it all. It was a no-brainer really.

I hadn’t planned on it, but about 15 minutes into the run, I started to get notions. I’ve always intended to go running on the beach at Dollymount Strand but I’ve never got round to it. The furthest I had run, from my house, was as far as the Wooden Bridge which is a good 5km into my run but it’s at least another km further to the beach. That’s an achievable goal for me to reach, still the problem would be the return home. My fitness is not at that level yet and I’d be foolish even to chance it.

A while ago I got an email from a girl in work, Jill. In the email she asked for sponsorship for a 10km she was running to raise money for MS Ireland as her sister had been diagnosed a number of years back. I knew straight away the email was sent to me in error as we didn’t really know each other back then and there was no way she could have known about my diagnosis at the time. Anyway we got chatting as I thought it was a strange coincidence that I received an email about MS by mistake. Naturally, I donated. Now I chat to Jill regularly in work. Not only that but she has convinced me to sign up for the Dublin City Half Marathon in September in aid of MS Ireland. It’s funny the impact MS has had on me; both good and bad.

Feel free to join us, the more the merrier 😉 –>


So there I was, yesterday, as I reached the Wooden Bridge at Clontarf; “Feck this, I’m training for the Half Marathon. I’m going for a run on the beach!” Sometimes you have to act the fool. By the time I got to Dollymount Strand I had pins and needles in my right foot and couldn’t feel a thing. The sensible thing to do was to stop and walk until the feeling returned or at least turn back. I get very stubborn when I run though. I ran the length of the beach and turned off to run toward the Bird tree-top sculpture at Saint Annes Park. The pins and needles persisted so I start running faster even though my energy was rapidly dwindling. Luckily, as I ran faster the feeling soon came back to my right foot and I managed to continue jogging albeit at a much slower pace.

Bird Tree Saint Annes.png
Me and my pals Peter and Gar at the Bird Tree-top at Saint Annes Park: Sept 2016

I had threatened to do this run for such a long time but had no intention of attempting it when I left my house yesterday morning. I was in no way completely ready to do it. But I wanted to stay out while the sun was still shining and try get Vitamin D naturally for once. The sun once was a deterrent for me going outside, now it’s the protagonist. I was being both foolish and stubborn and I regret nothing.

I kept thinking on the home straight about Homer Simpsons attempt to jump Springfield Gorge “I’m gonna make, I’m gonna make it, I’m king of the World!”. Of course, Homer didn’t make it (click here for the link) but as with most things in my life there always has to be a Simpsons reference to fall back on. I finished the run in 1 hour 48 minutes and 25 seconds. I practically crawled for the last few kilometres but I did it and I’ll do it again. Just as inactivity creates lethargy; energy creates energy. I done my stretches when I got home and felt a few pains today but nothing I can’t handle. I even went for a walk back to Clontarf with Michelle and Oliver 🙂

I have set up a charity page for the Half Marathon for anyone who would like to donate; https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/half-marathon-for-ms

My MS Update

I have had to go back to the hospital, for blood tests, every month since last September when I started on my new medication. My white blood cells are not at the level they should be which means I’m more susceptible to infection. I may have to consider changing medication again if it persists. All part and parcel of having a chronic illness I suppose. My next MRI is booked for May so that should tell me more, particularly about any additional lesions; which I suspect there are. In which case I mightn’t have a choice but to change meds. I’m lucky that my mobility hasn’t been affected since my initial diagnosis, however, there are other constants like spots in my vision and fatigue that just don’t go away. Running, I find, is the best way way to alleviate these.

Yesterday’s run is the most I’ve pushed myself since as long as I can remember and I’m really feeling the benefits of it.

“Nobody ever seems to remember life is a game we play”


Hello Sunshine

“Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire couldn’t conquer the blue sky”

Lady’s and gentlemen of the class of whatever year you’re reading this in….

It’s December already, it’s getting pretty bitter out, most days are overcast at best. Winter is here and sunlight is more and more scarce. Vitamin D cannot be directly received from sunshine at this time of the year. This is a concern for me. There is a definite correlation between lack of sunlight and MS. It is much more common in colder climates with little sunlight. This time last year is when my symptoms started to really show. And because I’m in my final year of college until May, finding time to take advantage of the rare sunshine is even tougher. Exercise is a good substitute but I’m finding less time to do that too. Working full-time and studying part-time is proving tough especially at this time of year.

Lack of sunshine used to never bother me in the slightest. In fact I welcomed it. I used to think the sun hated me. I had a few forgettable sunburn experiences as a kid that I would try to avoid the sun at all costs. When avoiding the sun wasn’t an option I would lash on the suncream before going outside.

Baz Luhrmans Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen is a very inspiring and educational piece. If you’re not familiar with it or haven’t listened to in a while give it a go. One thing I now disagree with Baz on though is his encouragement of applying suncream. Madness, I know. But let me explain myself. Of course suncream (screen/block) is very useful but as I’m learning about most things these days it should be applied in moderation. Whenever I’m in a hot climate or on a rare sun-kissed Irish day I lash on the suncream.

“The benefits of sunscreen has been proved by scientists. Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience”

When I was told it was evident that I was showing the first symptoms of MS I was advised to get lots of sunshine as it is the best way for us to get Vitamin D. Straight away I thought “not that bastard sun, he hates me!”.  But I did as I was told. I went for walks by the sea each day. This, apparently, is also good for your balance which I was struggling with badly. I made sure the sun got onto my baldy head at the very least but also I felt getting the fresh air and having the sea breeze in my face was just as beneficial. Even as the weather improved my doctor advised me not to put on suncream before leaving the house and allow my skin to absorb the sun even for 10 or 15 minutes a day. I still feared getting burnt but it was great advice. I actually feel better when the sun hits my skin probably because I know now how good it is for me. When I eventually went back to work a few people thought I was taking the piss being off. I’d come back with a bit of a tan and lost a bit of weight from all the walking. Turns out the sun was my friend all along. I just didn’t realise. The sun, as with most friends, is great in small doses but spend too much time in their company you can end up burnt 🙂 Everything in moderation.

Hello Sunshine: Come into my life 🌞

Still though, I did spend most of this years sun holiday by the pool under the umbrella covered head to toe in suncream but I made sure that I got a bit of natural sun before doing so. I also take daily vitamin D supplements as I know a lot of people do. I’m lucky enough to be prescribed these on my Long Term Illness card so they cost nothing. It’s recommended all people living in climates similar to Ireland’s should be taking vitamin D supplements to compensate for the lack of sunshine particularly in Winter time. 

It’s a great feeling the sun hitting your skin directly even if only for a brief period. There’s so many natural things about the world that I’m only starting to open my eyes up to since my diagnosis. I find myself treating MS as a sort of awakening. I wonder sometimes how I wasn’t like this before and why only now when faced with a genuine challenge do I see the world so differently. The main challenge I’ve found recently is how to put a positive spin on everything. Perhaps it’s not always possible but I don’t be far off seeing the positive side to most scenarios. Brief mindfulness sessions have helped but I don’t practice it enough.

A lot of lifestyle changes I’ve made since being diagnosed with MS haven’t felt life changing as I have implemented them slowly and not tried to change everything all at once. I try not to eat too much processed food and I have a lot more fruit whereas before I would have crisps and a chocolate bar. A lot of dairy free and gluten free items in the shopping trolley. I’ve cut back on red meat. I’m loosely following certain diets that people with MS highly recommend. Again, everything in moderation. I try to go out walking or for a run on my lunch break in work. This is not always possible and sometimes I lack the necessary motivation but I try not to be too hard on myself when I go short periods without exercising. I generally feel a fuzziness coming back to my brain when I go for periods of being idle so I use that as my trigger to get back on the horse.  This is how I try to live my life now, I know there’s a lot of people who live much healthier ones. For me, it’s a vast improvement from before diagnosis. I still know that there’s something lying in the background that could raise it’s ugly head but I’m confident that if I keep going the way I am a relapse is a long way off.  It’s just a reminder that we’re all the masters of our own destiny. Or maybe we’re not. What do I know.

To quote Doc Brown in Back to The Future 3: “your future hasn’t been written yet, no one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”

But trust me on the sunshine.