Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis Story

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Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis Story: Reduced to a Comic (Transcript)

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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 asked.

“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 giving speech?)

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 illustrations)

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)