Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Love, Confusion, Anger, Love...A Spouse's View of Multiple Sclerosis

Let me first say that I met Kevin after he was diagnosed with MS and so I went into this with my eyes wide open.  His sense of humour and zest for life overshadowed any challenges that I saw him struggling with because of this horrible disease; I probably delude myself that many of the physical challenges he deals with are just part of aging.  For instance, when he complains about minor problems with his vision, I just assume that he's been used to having the vision of an Army pilot his whole life.  Now, when he can't see perfectly, it's just because "his arms aren't long enough."  That may be true, or it may not, but it helps me not stress about the little things.
After we first met, I did a lot of research on this disease. At the time I worked for a major pharmaceutical company and had access to very current research on the disease, I also spoke with my father (a retired physician) to understand the medical lingo a bit more.  I ultimately decided that every relationship will have its ups and downs - at least I know what one of the "downs" will be!  Kevin is such a wonderful husband and I won't let MS take that away from me (it helps that he won't let MS take him down without a fight!).
That being said, there are challenges.  I'll never forget the phone call I received at my office about six months after we started dating.  "Can you meet me at the VA?  I can't see and my neurologist is able to fit me in."  I looked out the window and it was SNOWING!  Fortunately he made it there safely and the VA wrapped its collective arms around him and got things under control.  He takes it all in good stride and has a hearty chuckle about it.  At one point after another "hospital experience", Kevin had to use a walker for a couple weeks until his muscle strength came back.  I wasn't going to let that slow us down so we went to the farmers market and he sat in the middle and I filled up the walker's basket with all sorts of fresh produce.  I've never heard so many ladies whispering to their friends about how jealous they were of that walker and of a husband who would come with them to the farmers market!  We still have a good laugh about that afternoon.
Sure... there are times when MS is an unwelcome visitor who ruins our plans but we are determined not to let it take us down.  We've built a wonderful support network comprised of friends, family, the Veterans Administration, and the National MS Society, helps us take it in stride and keep us upright.  Now it's our turn to give back to all of them.

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