As stated in my original post, there must be plenty of caregivers who find themselves in situations much more challenging than that in which I find myself. Mandy, my wife, has relapsing-remitting MS. As implied, it comes and goes. Actually, it comes more often than either of us like. For a long time, when she climbed out of an episode, Mandy would recover nearly 100%. Now we’re quite grateful if and when that happens because it’s happening less and less of the time. These days we’re satisfied with a 90% recovery, give or take.
The Internet is an interesting space, don’t you think? For example, just because we’re all gathered here in this MS forum does not mean that only people directly affected by MS stop by to read these posts. Others who visit may have stumbled upon the site, or perhaps may have been told about it by someone they know. Some, perhaps you, simply know someone with MS and are exercising your curiosity in an attempt to understand more about the disease. I’m going to try, in this post, and perhaps the next one or two, to give you a sense of what it feels like to watch someone you love slip before your eyes into the grips of what I can only describe as a monster.
Mandy and I got together only five short years ago. When we first moved in together, she showed no signs of MS. Indeed, she was strong, raring to tackle the challenges that lay before us; anxious to begin a new life. Since employment opportunities here in our part of Virginia were, at that time, slim pickings, Mandy did what she had to do and hit the interview trail. Within just a short time, no surprise to me, she found a really great job with a national trade organization. This was right up her alley, she having had quite a bit of trade association experience during her working lifetime.
So each morning I would head north about 4o miles to what was then my office, and Mandy would drive east for an hour to her new job. Within a few short months we found ourselves settling into a nice routine. Family came to visit. We got ourselves two cats; two so that they wouldn’t be lonely while we were off at work. Cats because both Mandy and I can be a bit fastidious and we knew that we needed to bring a little insanity and chaos into our home. We brought home good paychecks, went out regularly, and basically were well on our way to building a wonderful life together.
One day, while out of state visiting my family, I offhandedly asked my father, a semi-retired physician, to take a look at Mandy’s arm. She had been complaining for a couple of weeks that it was a bit numb. My father, who is renowned in my hometown for both his diagnostic skills and his bedside manner, felt Mandy’s arm, asked a few questions, and with a look that I was quick to recognize, suggested that we make an appointment with our family physician as soon as we get home. He didn’t pull any punches when he stated that he was concerned that Mandy might be presenting early symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.
At this point I can only imagine the sound of the thud as you fall off your chair in shock. That’s because it’s extremely rare to hear of anyone being diagnosed with MS this quickly. Well, get up, because this story is only beginning. While my father was ultimately proven correct in his cursory diagnosis, the reality is that it took us nearly six months before we were able to get the rest of the medical community to agree.
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Published On: March 05, 2008