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Climbing, Leaping, and Other Compulsions Associated with Multiple Sclerosis

Posted May 20 2009 11:57am

Why must the onset of multiple sclerosis lead so often to a sudden desire to climb mountains or jump out of airplanes?

I see it so depicted in magazine after magazine, in brochures and in seminar invitations, to such an extent that I can hardly deny it must be so; and yet I have to admit in all honesty that I have not experienced this same compulsion, neither before nor after being diagnosed with MS.

Is there something wrong with me? Is there something wrong, something lacking in my particular case of MS?

I cannot help but feel guilty. Shouldn't I be wanting to scale something--the neighbor's garage, for instance--and then straightaway wanting to leap from the highest point thereof?

Once upon a time Satan was talking to Jesus.

He brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written:

'He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you, and in their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"

And Jesus, perfectly free of MS, mind you, as well as any other bodily malady, answered thus-wise:

"It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"

It occurs to me, where mountain peaks are concerned, that if I was supposed to be on one, God would have put me there in the first place. After all, He had the good sense to put the monkey in the jungle and the whale in the sea; the worms in the ground and the bunnies in the bushes.

And what did He put on the mountain peak?

Snow.

Do I have a witness?

Nonetheless, it is the testimony of our eyes, upon the perusal of all the available material, that among all the curious symptoms associated with MS is the sudden inclination also to perform great feats of strength and daring--feats which, incidentally, are now quite beyond our capacity--white water rafting, surfing, bungee jumping, kangaroo riding, tree climbing, marathon running, and such-like.

How does this hyperactive, somewhat pointless impulse come about? What is it about damage to the central nervous system that causes skydiving?

These are questions that need further research. For now I can only admit to the existence of the symptom, and bemoan its utter lack of presence in my case. As it stands, I cannot climb the mountain--the stairs in my house are enough. I cannot commune with the clouds in the sky, for those in my brain are sufficiently thick on their own.

Can someone say amen?
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