March 21st, 2014
Multiple Sclerosis: The Disease I Love to Hate
Last year my daughter Stacey was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The bottom of my world literally dropped out from beneath me. The thoughts going through my head were many and varied. Why her? Why now? She's my baby girl. This is not real. She has children to care for. What do I do? What can I do?
My initial horror of the thought of multiple sclerosis stems from my ex-husband's mother, Mary,* who died of some form of MS when she was 54. I remember it vividly. The horror of her life as she slipped away has been at the forefront of my mind since my daughter was diagnosed. Mary had to have a stomach tube put in because she could no longer swallow. She was totally bedridden because all of her muscle function was gone. She could not speak clearly and it was very difficult to understand her in the last year of her life because she no longer had control of her vocal cords. Although I come from a faith-filled family, I can't seem to stop the uncontrollable thoughts of how Mary died from passing through my mind when I think of my beautiful daughter, the mother of five children ranging in ages from 14 to 9. I keep telling myself that technology is so much better today than it was back then. I would feel better about that had Stacey been diagnosed in a timely manner. She was having different symptoms for different things and ended up having multiple surgeries before a definitive diagnosis was made. The terrible thing about MS is that it can mimic other diseases, so every other disease that Stacey may have had had to be ruled out first. The testing
that had to be done was unimaginable.
I have gone around and around trying to figure out how Stacey could get MS. Is it hereditary? Was it because she was premature and something didn't develop right that opened the door for a future diagnosis? Was it something I did or something I ate while I was pregnant? Was it other environmental factors? In this particular instance, I don't know the answers to these questions. What I do know is that I hate that there is no cure for MS. I hate that I am helpless. I hate a lot of things about this whole disease process, but I love my daughter to the moon and back and I'll do whatever I have to do to help her.
For Stacey, symptoms come and go. Some days are better than others. She is being proactive and getting more exercise to stay healthy. To that end, she and I are participating in a Tough Mudder in May in Mansfield, Ohio, may God watch over us! The stronger she is, the longer she'll stay healthy and active, and I am going to be there to help her. There is also the plus side that giving back to the Wounded Warrior Project is way better than giving in to this terrible disease. So on May 17th
, please offer up a prayer for my daughter and me as we tough it out at the Tough Mudder. We may not win any awards for our physical prowess but we'll be together and raise money for a wonderful cause.