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I Loved Running — and Now I Won't Run From My Multiple Sclerosis

Early on in high school, I developed a love for running. I was never the fastest, and I didn’t have “right” form, but it was mind-clearing and therapeutic. I ran for half an hour every day in the afternoon. I lived in an old agricultural labor camp in the Monterey Bay area, so I was surrounded by acres and acres of land that I would use as my personal running track — open for me to use whenever I wanted.

I would get tired quickly. I would pant and trip but was oblivious because my focus was on the music blaring out of my noise-canceling headphones. The daily grind of going out every afternoon for my run gave me endurance, so by the time my sophomore year of high school began, I was ready for the track days in my physical education class. When we ran the mile the previous year, I usually was second-to-last, finishing with my best friend who happened to be asthmatic. In my freshman year, my mile times were around 12 or 13 minutes, but by sophomore year, I could run a mile in 8:40. I was happy to finish with that vastly improved time. I could not stop — when I finished my four laps, I had to continue to run until we were set to walk back to the school down the street. But there was a new sensation in my body that had started the summer before, and it was starting to dominate.

I had weakness, numbness, and utter loss of control of my legs from the waist down. My knees could bend backward at any moment. When this happened, I had to take small steps until I regained some sort of feeling — any sense of control. This fragile state continued throughout my sophomore year of high school. I worried, but I also dismissed these sensations and attributed them to just being tired.

At the beginning of my junior year of high school, I

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