Leaping Into The Unknown

leapParalympic champion Kadeena Cox, who has MS,  won gold in cycling and athletics last year.

She has now had her UK Sport funding suspended while she takes part in ‘The Jump’, a Channel 4 winter sports programme.

They claim it is ‘due to the nature of the activities in the show’, i.e. ski jumping. Cox later tweeted, ‘B4 judging my decisions ppl should imagine living life as a ticking time bomb. MS has changed my outlook on life, so I’m gonna enjoy skiing.’

Well said, on so many levels, and how short-sighted and discriminatory for UK Sport to judge her decision rather than supporting her as a fantastic role model?

In my own way, although much more small-scale, I know exactly what Kadeena means. All of us with MS have a ticking time bomb and a lot of us want to cram in as much as we can, while we can.

Back in 2011 when MS first made itself known to me in all its hideous colours, it was the shocking obliteration of my mind that spurred me in to action. My very first proper symptom was being unable to speak properly – I was weird enough to have a lesion sitting right on the speech part of my brain, so I started speaking nonsensical English with a German grammar form, fumbling for words and generally having the lights go off, one by one.

For an aspiring writer, it was devastating. I had almost finished my second degree, in the hope of spring-boarding to a great career. Suddenly, I couldn’t string sentences together and essays proved impossible. Luckily I was given amazing support and time extensions and finally gained a 2:1. It was hell, but I did it. MS was not going to beat me.

So what’s the most ridiculous thing I could do next, given the circumstances? Start a blog. Of course. Start writing. Go after that life-long dream, which in my case was way less sports-oriented and more becoming a writer. Why not? That ticking time-bomb.

Even more ridiculously, I signed up for a Master’s in Creative Writing. Lol. It was awful, I nearly withdrew, I got support, and I’m now in the middle of typing up my dissertation.

Kadeena uses the word ‘judging’ and she could not be more right. People do judge you. If you have a disability, you should do exactly what society deems appropriate and if not, you break some unwritten protocol. I’ve been told, ‘what were you banging on about, you got a 2:1?’. Yes, but only after working ten times as hard as I would have pre-MS. I’m stubborn like that.

I’ve been told, ‘You? Take a Master’s?’ Yes. I like to challenge myself, not on the ski slopes, but on paper. It’s been a voyage of self-discovery (i.e. most of my writing is awful, but some of it is good). I’ve been pushed beyond mental endurance and it has been good for me. Horrible at the time, but in retrospect, fantastic.

So could you just stop judging us? Why not get a life instead?

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14 thoughts on “Leaping Into The Unknown

  1. Suzanne Gardner says:

    Woah well said and very much in tune with my current thinking! This ticking time bomb is with me all the time so I need to get on with stuff! People can stuff their judgey looks up their arse! Cheers for this xx

  2. David says:

    Hi and belated Happy new year to you and the teenager.
    I wish you luck with the dissertation, you have come a long way and done very well so far in your MSLife.
    As regards Kadeena she is an outstanding person by not letting MS dictate how her life should go, as far as I understand the funding is for athletics only.
    As a disabled skier I hope Kadeena enjoys her training and time on the Jump.
    I have been sit-skiing for just over a year now onto a mono ski, and going back to Aviemore in 4 weeks time.
    I love watching the Jump, sometimes a little envious, I would like to try the bob and skeleton.
    With a LTC who knows what can happen or when. My friend has aggressive progressive MS, this time last year she said she’d like to try sit skiing while she could, but alas the MS ticking time bomb didn’t give her the chance.
    I can’t go to Zip world on a zip wire any where or try the Ifly in Manchester, my GP doesn’t like me skiing, but hey I don’t get told to slow down.
    Happy days

    • stumbling in flats says:

      A very Happy New Year to you too!

      Kadeena certainly is outstanding and a brilliant spokeswoman for us all.

      Well done on your skiing! I’m very jealous. I tried skiing once in Norway and vowed never again, lol. Aviemore is beautiful – I spent a fabulous holiday there as a child -so have a fabulous time 🙂

  3. Steve (TwoTon) says:

    People may try to judge me and how I deal with my MS but they’re onto a loser.

    If they wish to base their views of me on some preconceived ‘normal’ then so be it.

    The only person with any ability or indeed right to judge me is myself. I know what I can do, what I can’t, what I want to do and what I don’t. I know what my future may hold and I know just how much that terrifies me so it’ll be me that decides on how much I’ll push myself on any given day towards any given goal or whether I decide to spend a day on the settee.

    For some/many/me Kadeena Cox and those like her with or without MS are are a Godsend. Her and those of her ilk are not solely an inspiration they’re also a confirmation, a confirmation that I’m not wrong and that people as obstinate as I am are entitled to live with their neurological illnesses in the manner that suits them.

    As you said UK Sport are extremely shortsighted in their decision. Are they not an organisation with a remit to get people off their arses and try things, to attempt and strive? What exactly do they think this message sends to people and in particular those who find even regular activities a challenge?

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Very well said!!
      I know what you mean about being terrified of the future. I am too and I worry so much about what will happen to me if I have to give up work. I worry about lots of stuff! But it really doesn’t help having to put up with people judging me as well …

  4. Judy says:

    Hi Stumbling,
    Applause to your go for it attitude, despite the things that were standing in your way!!! I love your book! Be well.

  5. @markwebb_dc says:

    Well said that Stumbler! Wrote on same topic a couple of days ago.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      I retweeted it, it is a fantastic post!! We have to complain about the way this has been handled – almost a case of she is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. So unfair. I for one will be cheering for Kadeena every step of the way!

  6. Paul says:

    So so true. Your posts are always spot on and articulate what I find so difficult to put into words. Thank you!

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