Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Can You Still Walk?

The last few years has shown me how little our closest friends and family really understand Multiple Sclerosis. I realize that I have studied and understand the disease, but neither one of us really knew how little they understood. A few months back we had a family member ask if Michelle could still walk. I kinda thought that was an odd question since she has been running around with kids at the Children's Home for months now. I have come to realize that they see the disease as something that consistently progresses, and don't realize that the majority of MS sufferers live out a fairly normal life.

I have tried to explain how MS works to my family and they seem to understand until she has an attack. Since she was diagnosed in 1990, she has had a lot of years to learn how it affects her body and what to expect. About two years ago she was having a lot of issues and we were unsure of what to do. After talking with our families, they just felt like the disease was going to progress and that we needed to just accept the fact that she was getting worse. We felt like there was something else causing the issues, so we started weeding out different variables to see what it was. We soon learned that it was the environment where we lived. The toxins in the air from the oilfield work surrounding us was making her have more issues. Once we moved, she immediately felt better and she was back to her normal self.

Through that experience I guess I finally realized that my family was expecting her to just get worse some day. They thought that since she was getting older that her MS would progress. I don't guess I have every thought of it that way since we spoke with Dr. Swank so many years ago. His success rate for MS patients leading a normal life was off the charts and we knew that my wife's chances were great. Neither of us expect her illness to progress, but it could. We are already planning for those issues, but are not going to live our lives in fear of what might happen. For now we will continue to try and educate our families about the disease and try to help them see that she is doing great and will continue to as long as we take care of her illness.

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