To bring you up to date on Adam’s hike, when we last heard from him he was looking for a nice steak dinner after climbing Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern US. He must have found that steak, and a bit more, because he came off the trail at Gorham, New Hampshire. He is not racing to Katahdin as he thought he was going to.
Why he came off the trail, I don’t know. He’s not shared his reasons. Ultimately they aren’t important. I’m very proud of my friend for hiking about a third of the Appalachian Trail, and I look forward to backpacking with him this winter.
The reason I’ve titled this post “The Journey Continues” isn’t just because Adam will probably get back on the trail at some point. Its because that for people with MS, life isn’t just a journey, but a challenging one.
Before I started writing about Adam’s hike back in June, Adam made it very clear to me that if his story was going to appear online it wasn’t going to be a motivational tale of success on success. I agreed. And I tried very hard to show some of the darker problems Adam faced – coming off the trail every month for a checkup, heat, pain, doubting himself. However, I don’t think I fully captured the most important fact. MS sucks.
MS patients live an average of six years less than non-MS patients, and the quality of their life deteriorates as the disease progresses. Adam is hiking ten years after diagnosis but many people are in wheelchairs by then. One day you are fine, and the next you wake up and can’t move. Adam is sluggish in the morning and has to swallow a handful of pills to start the day. Heat saps his stamina. His legs hurt. MS patients are living longer and better lives now, and research into a cure and treatment continues, but just living an ordinary life is a climb. In other words, MS sucks.
Adam knows he’s been exceptionally fortunate, and he’s been able to do things many people with MS can’t do. So when you look at that photo of him atop Mount Washington, remember everyone with MS has a mountain to climb.