Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fate, Circumstance and MS

On a cold September day in Korea in 1999 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  From that day on, absolutely everything in my life changed forever.  First there was the toll on my body.  Sometimes the damage comes and goes, some damage is always there and some damage just gets worse.  Regardless of what those damaging effects are at the moment, my MS is always there: my hands, arms, legs, eyes….  What I have “gained” from MS is always there with me, one way or another.

Quickly following what I gained from MS was what I lost.  The first loss was immediate: I would never fly again.  That was certain.  Slowly, more certainties would unfold.  My time in command was cut short and by June 2000 I was evacuated back to the States.  Feeling dazed and confused ,I said one final goodbye to the soldiers of Delta Troop, 1/6 Cavalry (Darkhorse!).

 “Don’t you get angry at what MS has done to you?”
I have never answered that question
 “Don’t you miss the Army?”
Nor have I answered that one
 “Don’t you miss flying?”
I especially haven’t answered that one

I don’t think of myself as a superstitious man.  I do not believe in fate and I surely don’t think that things are destined to happen in any one certain way.  Everyone I know and everything I have in my life is in my life because of some series of events in my past.  Maybe I caused those events; maybe I am just an ‘effect’ of other circumstances.  Regardless, I am here today because of what happened in the past.

Someday we will know more about those circumstances and events that cause Multiple Sclerosis.  We’ll learn more about the cause and develop ways to defeat the disease or prevent it outright.  In the meantime, we’ll work on ways to treat the disease and its effects on our bodies.  Regardless, I will forever have the effects that MS caused on my life.

In 2000 I returned to the United States to build my new life with MS.  This was only somewhat successful and it often felt like one step forward, two steps back.    Many of those steps were damaging both physically and emotionally.  By 2003, my MS had gotten the better of my physical and emotional self and I landed in Delaware for treatment at the Wilmington VA Medical Center.  Slowly but surely my body regained its strength and stability; the rest of me soon followed.

I met Brie in 2004; we married in 2006 and moved out west to build a home in Portland, Oregon, the following year.  Eleanor Rogue was born in 2010.  A strange series of events, circumstances and actions have molded the three of us into the perfect family.

There is no was that these events would have ever occurred had I not been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis on a cold September day in Korea in 1999.

“Don’t you get angry at what MS has done to you?”
Yes, I get angry sometimes.  Yes, I miss my Army days.  Yes, I do miss flying. 
I never answered these questions before now, mostly for fear of how I would react if I ever admitted that I missed the things I was forced out of because of my MS.  That’s a foolish fear on my part.  So, yes, I do miss it. 

I have a beautiful, strong woman who loves me and will be standing by my side supporting me every step of the way.  I have a beautiful little girl just 16 months old who wins my heart over and over every time she looks at me.  There is no way I would be in this exact place without every step taken before.

Do I wish that anything was different?
Not at all.

Kevin Byrne - Portland, OR

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