Has your life ever felt like a comic strip? Mine has, particularly my experience with MS. Here’s my story.
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My big mouth always gets me
into trouble. (guy w/big mouth “Blah, blah, blah, blah”)
During a high school English
class, I got a three day suspension for
saying “This book sucks!” Hey it was
Bill Shakespeare—to be honest he still sucks. (Ill-
Shakespeare profile with voice shouting “You suck” from beyond)
And in September of 1996, it
was my mouth that got me into trouble with multiple sclerosis.
For several months before, I
had noticed numbness in my left hand as well as how my right leg would stop
working during a run. No biggie I
figured. But on that September day, it
was during a routine physical with my family doctor when my big mouth casually
mentioned my lingering problems. His
eyes turned as cold as a stethoscope. After
asking more about my symptoms, the doctor used his fingers to lightly trace a
ring around my bare waist.
“Can you feel my touch?” he
“No”, I replied.
Either he was onto something or
I was a bad guest of honor to the tickle party.
After further examination, my
doctor sat down. “Look, I believe we
have a serious problem here”, he said. “I
think you may have multiple sclerosis.”
Cue the dramatic music.
An MRI later confirmed the MS
diagnosis. A neurologist classified it
as “relapsing-remitting MS.”
Relapsing-remitting? I thought that was what you called a VCR
flashing “12:00” all the time. (Ill-VCR flashing “12:00”)
I was devastated. Confused. Thoughts whirled inside my head like a salad
spinner. (Ill-Head with Salad spinner for a brain…Why me? What’s the future
hold? Wheelchairs, walkers & canes, oh my!) I couldn’t read about MS or talk about it
without getting upset. I was a tornado
from the neck up. (Ill-Person, has a scribble of a tornado instead of a head) Didn’t know what to do or say. So I said nothing. Told very few—not even my parents. On the outside I was smiling, but on the
inside I was screaming my fool head off. (Ill- person
smiling with thought bubble in huge letters “I HAVE MS! HELP ME!)
I went into a state of denial. Deny, deny, deny. Figured it works for politicians. And it would work for me. (Ill-politician
Denial led to anger. Angry I couldn’t run. Angry I was fatigued. Angry my bladder had a mind of its own. Ill-person
with wet spot on pants)
Anger led to frustration. How could I be a good Dad, husband &
provider being saddled with MS? How
could I keep up? (Ill-Dad w/”World’s Worst Dad” trophy?)
And frustration led to
depression. A dark cloud surrounded my
head as dense as a big-city smog. (Ill-head with smog hanging above)
Over the half-dozen years, my MS
matured into “Secondary Progressive .” I
began using one cane, then two. A
wheelchair became necessary to get around the cavernous, big-box stores. An AFO to walk. Hand controls to drive. Splints, devices, modified whatchamacallits—I
became a hybrid of Inspector Gadget, RoboCop & Ironman rolled into one. (Ill-any
Today, nearly 18 years later, I
have yet to fully accept my MS. I don’t
think those of us with MS ever do. But we
have reached a semi-mutual agreement of understanding. A truce. A compromise I must live with for the rest of
my life. Then again, a compromise with
MS is better than surrendering to it. (Ill-person waving white flag)
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