Monday, April 7, 2008

Blessing or Curse of MS

The first time I met Dr. Roy L Swank was over 12 years ago. My then fiance wanted me to go with her to discuss what life would be like for a spouse married to a MS patient. We walked into his office and there was this small little old man that was full of life. He was in his 90's when I met him, and he was still travelling around the world. He loved his work and took plenty of time to discuss our upcoming marriage and the prospects of having a family. I will never forget the few times I spoke with Dr. Swank because he was always so full of life and passionate about his work. One of the things that really struck me was his description of the typical MS patient. He told me that most MS patients were beautful, vibrant, successful individuals. He said many of them were athletic and full of life, and the thing he seemed to fear most was the affects the MS would have on the psyche of the patients he treated.

I met many patients when we would visit his office, and some looked like they were taking the MS news head on and others looked like it had already beat them. I guess that is what bothered me most about visiting any of the MS centers we have gone to, the affects of the depression and emotional issues. So many of the patients look beat up and depressed and without a fire in their eyes. I have seen that look a few times in my wife's eyes, but the feeling of defeat doesn't usually last very long. I know that a major part of Dr. Swank's practice was to motivate and encourage his patients to live and to not let MS discourage them or control their lives. He was always so positive, and after 50 years of MS research, he had the results to back up his claims.

One thing I have learned about many MS patients is that they are overachievers. My wife is always trying to do more than she can, and reaching farther than her health with allow. She pushes the envelope with what she can accomplish and I love that about her. Many of the other MS sufferers I know are the same way. We have a good friend with MS that just ran a marathon and is in great physical shape, even though I know she has days that she struggles to make it through the day. We have another friend that plays on a softball league and goes hiking with her kiddos regularly. Sometimes she can't walk well for a few days after these activities, but she is smiling and enjoying herself the whole way. My wife is no different. She still skis and is extremely active.

Dr Swank told me one time that success seems to be a trademark of MS patients that he treats. He would describe the people that were successful in their careers and successful parents and would speak about their accomplishments. It was always a blessing to hear about so many MS sufferers that didn't allow the disease to control their lives. I know that my wife will continue to push the limits with her disease, and my daughter and I will continue to be beside her to encourage and sometimes hold her up while she reaches to achieve her dreams. I was asked a few days ago about how my wife's MS has affected our lives, and my immediate response is that it has been a blessing. I honestly believe that. I have met so many great people, seen so many beautful places and had many great experiences in my marriage, and so many of those things have happened because of Multiple Sclerosis. We can view MS as a curse or a blessing, and it truly is a choice. We have made the choice to view it as a blessing.

1 comment:

Amy said...

This is a beautiful post and a fine testament to the choice you've made to seek out the blessings. Thank you for sharing.