Diminishing Skills

Diminishing Skills






Diminishing skills is a term often used to describe an aging athlete.

Someone past their prime.

A person who may still show occasional flashes of renown, but nothing close to that of their past would be described as having diminishing skills.





But when you think about it, diminishing skills could also be used to describe those of us with MS or some other yucky disease.


Over time your diagnosis may have stolen some or most of your key abilities or function.



The Funny Meter.  Lovely.
The Funny Meter. Lovely.



Oh, of course the Funny Meter has to rear its ugly head when I’m making a serious point.


Please leave us alone.

You have a whole new season of TV shows to criticize.

Go watch an episode of ABC’s “Blackish”–that looks like a keeper.




Now, back to the post.


The reason for this topic was a recent conversation I had with someone.

He asked if I was still working out, to which I replied “Yes, four to five times a week.”

Next he asked if I had lost any strength over time due to MS…”Could you still bench 120 pounds?”

“Nah” I said “I might only put 10 or 20 pounds on the bar, but that’s it.”



Phew.  Me taking a break between sets.
Phew. Me taking a break between sets.




And that got me thinking.

Has my body begun to fail me?

What the heck.  I’m working out more than ever, but yet my body is getting weaker.

.What gives?




I asked an Occupational Therapist and a med school resident the same question.

Together, they explained that the MS is robbing my muscles of the signals to fire.

The OT continued to explain saying as an example, a particular muscle may have 1,000 potential units available to work.  But because MS is disrupting the signal from my brain to the muscle, it may only be using 500 units.

Thus, you are weaker.

“That also explains the atrophy of your legs” she added.  “Because your muscles are working less–they begin to shrink.”


Skinny legs


have noticed my legs getting way thinner over the years.

Much different from when I was able to run.

Geez, now I have hairy, girlie legs.

I could be an Amish model.

Spiders look at me with envy.





You probably already know all this about MS.  I may have had it explained to me before as well.

Sometimes you have to hear it a second time before it actually sinks into my lesion-filled brain


How have you dealt with the diminishing skills of MS?

Has it been hard to accept?  How do you cope?


Diminishing skills are just part of the acceptance process of multiple sclerosis.

I’m 18 years into my MS relationship and I’m still grieving on it everyday.

Maybe at some point we’ll reach a compromise.










4 Replies to “Diminishing Skills”

  1. It can be frustrating and depressing when those skills just vanish! Muscle atrophy not only causes weakness, but it also creates a vicious cycle. We want to exercise to keep our muscles ready for action, but the lack of stamina forces us to stop. Then the muscles atrophy from lack of exercise and the cycle begins again. When I was doing some heavy therapy using weights on a Nautilus-like machine, I felt great. Yet every week, I had to exert more energy. So while I was leg pressing three times my weight, I was toning AND weakening. Eventually, I overdid and damaged my knee. Now I have a good excuse to do easier exercises.

  2. Muff,
    well said.
    I understand your frustration.
    Better to do easier exercises than none at all!
    Thank you.

  3. I have to admit, I’m in the same MS boat. I have diminished stregth on my right side. Which sucks, because my right side is my favorite side. I have been trying to adapt by using my left side more often. It seems pointless at times, but it’s always worth a try.

  4. A few of things. First, see http://climbingdownhill.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/rest-stop-exercise-2/ The contraption I use maintains some of my strength.

    Second, in the last months, I have developed severe spasticity. If involuntary muscle tightening and tone is any indication of strength, I’m an amazon woman. However, it has shortened my inner thigh muscles thereby killing my ability to walk, so it’s a wash.

    Third, a friend recently published this post http://soihavemsnowwhat.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/i-can-do-this/ which shares the same issue, but from a different angle.

    I had to catch up on your posts – loving your humor.