Multiple Sclerosis in Politics: Michelle Obama's Father

  • If you are a person living with multiple sclerosis and if you are at all interested in politics, then you already know that Michelle Obama’s father lived with multiple sclerosis.

    On the opening night of the Democratic National Committee convention, Michelle spoke fondly of her parents.

    “And I come here as a daughter - raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me.  My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.

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    My Dad was our rock.  Although he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in his early thirties, he was our provider, our champion, our hero.  As he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning.  But if he was in pain, he never let on.  He never stopped smiling and laughing - even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my Mom a kiss.  He just woke up a little earlier, and worked a little harder.”


    Some might say that it is fantastic to have MS mentioned in front of the nation to help make it a condition familiar to every household.  But some might question what impression Michelle’s mention has on the image of someone living with MS. 

    Last night we were to have an opportunity to SEE and HEAR one multiple sclerosis patient speak at the Democratic Convention.  But Beth Robinson’s speech was preempted by interviewers discussing the election, convention, and campaign.

    I was curious to hear what she had to say as the spouse of a U.S. Marine and as an MS
    patient.  I had planned to discuss what she had to say about the short-comings of the American health care system.  I wanted to hear about her frustrations in obtaining necessary care and pharmaceuticals as a military dependent.  But it wasn’t meant to be.

    Living within the Washington D.C. beltway, I have many friends who are beneficiaries of excellent military coverage and others who are customers of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEBHP).  These friends are plenty happy with the access and coverage they receive.  I can only dream of having the same someday.

    Back to Michelle Obama’s speech.  She mentioned the physical struggles of her father as he got sicker and less mobile, the extra time he took to get dressed and ready in the mornings, the continual laughing and smiling through it all.

    But I question the image brought by the words -

    “He just woke up a little earlier, and worked a little harder.”

    I don’t know about you, but multiple sclerosis is anything but "a little" disease. 

     

    Okay, so off I go to continue putting a face on this often invisible disease. 

    Hey, join me.  Create a Sharepost and we can do this together. 

     

    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

Published On: August 28, 2008