Multiple sclerosis is the ultimate player. From “catch me if you can” to that old favorite, “hide and seek”. First you see it, then you don't. Don't get too confident or it'll sneak up on you with a big, “Gotcha!”
You may pass me on the street one day and see a healthy, vibrant woman with a spring in her step. Yet another day you may plainly see the struggle on my face, the slower pace, the awkward gait and the unmistakable sound of shoes slowly sliding on the pavement. Yet again you may see the cane, the wheelchair or the handicapped parking tag and not recognize me as the same woman.
Enter my home and the signs of multiple sclerosis are not easy to spot upon first glance. A colorful cane collection stands idly in the corner of the foyer, waiting to be called into action. There's that innocent looking tall kitchen stool which makes meal preparation possible. Peek behind the shower curtain and you'll see the shower chair waiting to lend a hand. In the darkness of the car's glove compartment lies a handicapped parking placard at the ready, if needed. Those lightweight floor-gripping slippers sit in the closet and await my return from work. The folding wheelchair hides, tucked into a seldom used corner of the basement serving as backup, only to be summoned for duty when the battle calls for it. Inconspicuously tucked away in the refrigerator is a box of pre-filled syringes, each one taking its turn to inject a substance representing hope into my body.
The bedroom mirror is a distant cousin to the fun house mirror we enjoy at the local amusement park. On occasion, I look in the mirror and the image looking back seems oddly strong and youthful, contrary to the effort I must put forth to appear there. Other times there is an awkwardly bent older woman, slightly disheveled, obviously drained of all energy and staring at me with an expression I don't quite recognize as originating from me.
To the casual observer, MS is not easy to spot. To those in the know, MS leaves its mark. In my home, we try to avoid making it a topic of conversation on a daily basis, yet we seldom succeed. When my husband, Jake, inquires about my state of health each day, I am compelled to give him an honest report because, ultimately, my MS effects his life every bit as much as it does mine.
Make no mistake about it. MS lives here.
Published On: December 13, 2007