While eating lunch today, I decided to check twitter. I reached over to my phone, and hit the icon for Twittelator. There, waiting for me was a direct message from an online friend in Nottingham, England. She wrote “The MRI results are back…..It’s MS.” I now know 3 people with this dreaded disease.
The first person I knew to be diagnosed with MS is my friend Jeff’s wife. As I remember him telling me, she started having symptoms while they were on their honeymoon at Disney World. After many tests upon their return, her doctors eventually came to the conclusion that it was MS. I worked with Jeff for many years. And still count him as one of my closest friends. I remember there were nights when he was just exhausted. For awhile, his wife couldn’t drive. Either there was dizziness or she couldn’t feel which foot was on each peddle as she drove. So, he had to take her to work. Then bring her home. And then come to work in the evening. There were many nights in the early days of her diagnosis when I worked his shift because he simply couldn’t. I remember conversations about how he was learning how to give her injections by sticking an orange or some other kind of fruit. From time to time, I ask him how she’s doing. There are good days. And there are bad days. One day, she won’t have feeling in her fingers. It may last a week. It does eventually come back.
The second person in my life with MS is my father. He sent me an email out of the blue three or four years ago now. We hadn’t talked for many years. Sure, MS helped us reconnect. But, I so wish it was for other reasons. My dad has adult onset MS. There isn’t any official treatment. The last I had heard, his doctor had changed his diagnosis so that he would be eligible for medical treatment. The first symptom my dad had was falling in the shower. But, today most of his symptoms are in his legs. I visited him a couple of years ago. Although it looked like he could walk. It looked like he was in pretty bad pain. Occasionally, a muscle would spasm. He’s now retired and living again in Southern California. He lives fairly close to my cousin who has helped get him back and forth to doctor’s appointments and surgeries. My dad has other health problems. So, although the MS is a major part of his life, it’s not the sole reason for these surgeries.
My English friend and I have never met face to face. The closest we came was when I was housesitting for a woman while she worked in London. I got a call on my mobile from a number that looked like it was coming from the owner of the house. So, I picked it up. It was my friend in Nottingham. It was nice to hear from her. At this time, I don’t really remember the details of how she got my #. I do remember giving it to her. Not exactly why. I remember laughing at her because she said it was a mistake to call. I could tell it was an improptu decision. Maybe she was concerned what her husband would think about her calling an American. I’ll have to ask her one of these days. BTW, I should mention that we are only friends. Nothing more. Although, I consider my friendship with her to be an honor.
We “friended” each other pretty early on in twitter’s existence. She’s about 7 hours ahead of me here in Colorado. And I work at night. So, I started saying good morning to her as she checked in before she left for work. After awhile it got pretty ridiculous. I still say good morning to her when I see her. But, truth be told, I’ll admit it right now that I sometimes hold off from saying it when I see her post.
About a month or two ago, I saw her post on Facebook that she had an MRI. I sent her an email asking if everything was ok. She said that it was either a brain tumor or MS. I’m sure she’s glad that it wasn’t a brain tumor.
MS isn’t necessarily a terminal disease. People can certainly keep living the life they have before for many years. Or at least modify the way they live their life. But, it is a slow progression. I can’t imagine waking up one day with numbness in my fingers and not knowing if the feeling will come back. It can affect all parts of your body. Even your brain.
I don’t know why it took until the third person for me to look up when the next MS walk is. Maybe it’s the skeptic in me that doesn’t know if these things actually contribute to a solution. But, that’s what I did. I registered for the May 7th MS walk in Denver.