Guest blog post written by Myles Creran, MS Walk ambassador
Life threw me my first curveball at 12 years old when I went blind in my right eye.
There I was, an eager infielder, preparing to take the field in a baseball tournament, and before I could step up to the plate, my vision was compromised. The doctors suspected it was a scratch on my cornea or shale from the baseball diamond but months later, I was diagnosed with MS.
At first, I didn’t grasp the severity of the situation. As a 12-year-old kid with a dream to go to the big leagues, all I wanted was to get back onto the field. After months, I convinced the doctors to let me play again, taking safety precautions into account. Eventually, my vision came back, and my MS became dormant. Life went on, and my MS was shelved as nothing more than an occasional doctor’s checkup.
A whole new ball game:
Shortly after my 16th birthday, I lost the function of my body from the middle of my chest down. My hands and legs went numb as I experienced a sensation so prolonged that I could barely move. I remember sliding my feet across the floor because it was too painful to get them off the ground.
As a baseball player, losing the function of my hands and legs was agonizing. It was discouraging to think that I may not be able to do what I loved most. Accepting that I was in no condition to play baseball left me feeling defeated and helpless.
Until that point, I felt like I had such an easy ride with MS. Then, with the snap of a finger, I had gone from being completely fine to realizing how difficult my life could be. Suddenly, I felt different from everyone else, and I couldn’t help but feel isolated and angry.
Keeping your eye on the ball:
Time passed, but my symptoms never fully disappeared. My agony had faded into a recurring aggravation in which fatigue and numbness were my ubiquitous enemies. Mentally, I felt depleted.
Despite these challenges, I knew I had to figure out a way to continue playing the game I love. On a particularly tough day physically, I remember standing at a crossroads, asking myself if baseball was really worth it. My body was in tremendous pain but giving up on my dreams was not an option. My pain was temporary, but if I gave up baseball, I’d regret it for the rest of my life.
I started going to the gym. The first day, I tried to walk a mile and failed miserably.
Rage pulsed through my veins, but I knew I needed to find the mental fortitude to overcome my pain. Every day, I was back on the treadmill, pushing myself to walk further and faster than the day before. I kept on pushing until I started jogging and then running, and then eventually, sprinting. After a month straight of exercising with no days off, I went from not being able to walk, to running a mile in six and a half minutes.
By the time baseball season rolled around, I trained harder than I’d ever imagined I could. When you’re living with MS, playing baseball in 30-degree weather or catching a ball when you can’t feel your hands, is not easy. Despite being told by doctors that I wasn’t expected to walk much longer, I beat the odds. Four years later, I couldn’t be more ecstatic to call myself an infielder for the University of Calgary Dinos.
A balanced approach at the plate:
Just like I make adjustments at the plate when I’m playing baseball, I’ve had to make adjustments to accommodate my MS. This disease is a part of me, and I’ve learned to adapt to it. Today, my hands are a little bit numb and my legs are a bit weak, but I’m doing okay.
I won’t say that it’s been easy, because it hasn’t. I’ve had days where I ran to first base and my legs gave out on me. I’ve experienced shocks, shakiness, fatigue, and numbness. Last fall, I had to miss most practices, but I still went to the field almost every day to support my team.
Through my trials, I’ve learned to make the necessary adjustments. On days where I’m unsure of myself, I bring my cane to practice. I take breaks when I need them. Some days, I take the day off because my body is just not going to listen to me. Those are the days where I decide I’ll regroup and put in the work tomorrow.
Love of the game:
Living with MS has given me an extra appreciation for the game. Whether it’s a good or bad day, it’s still a day on the field and an opportunity to play.
I’ll never forget the week I came back after being sick last fall. It was the first ground ball that I’d seen in a long time and I sprinted into the biggest dive I could. My heart pounded with euphoria as I felt the ball land into my glove. I remember standing up, brushing the shale off my uniform, and thinking “it’s good to be back”.
Baseball gives me a reason to beat MS. After everything I’ve been through, I’m taking full advantage of being healthy right now. I’m going to play the game I love until MS stops me.