A Daughter's View
A Daughter's View
M.S first touched my life in early Spring 1995. At the time my life I was at the brink of new possibilities. I was about to graduate from college. I had a new job lined up as a first grade teacher in September. I was also engaged to be married. Things were “golden” as they say.
One evening, my brother and I were told that my Dad had found out some information that he needed to share. He had been having issues with numbness and balance. We all thought that it was due to his history as a runner. My parents sat us down and we knew something big was up. We have always been a family that talks (ALL THE TIME) but this was different. My Dad was scared. I had never seen him that way.
My Dad had been my go-to guy. My mom is and has been my support. But Dad is the fixer. He is the guy that I had always gone to with a problem, idea or otherwise. My car is making a noise-DAD. I had a problem with a paper in school-DAD. A tough math problem-DAD Even in the teenage years when my mom and I could hardly speak without arguing….Dad was there smooth things over.
Hearing that my Dad had M.S. and seeing him scared for the first time….well, it was like the reverse of the “Wizard of Oz” moment. The color in my life turned to gray. I had always battled depression and other anxiety issues and I felt the dark monsters lurking in the corner ready to strike. Plus, as I felt them returning, I no longer knew that I had the emotional support of my mom (she had her own worries) and I had no idea at the time how much of my Dad would be left to me and for how long. At the time, I knew very little about MS and I had no idea how much or how soon it would destroy my Dad.
Luckily, our family has always been what my brother and I have described as “Benevolent Bootcamp.” None of us are ever allowed to wallow for very long. My parents and (especially my Dad) are always about “working the problem” Even my battles with depresion were met with the response “We are here for you, but what can we all do together to help you” My brother and I still know that self-pity is not tolerated for long in our home. That may sound harsh, but I believe that has gotten us through the MS diagnosis as well as we have since 1995.
We all “worked the problem.” Mom and Dad did this the most. If they didn’t like what one doctor said, they went to another. And another, and another…..! They never accepted defeat. My dad has gone from walking me down the aisle in 2000, to now being confined to a wheelchair. He has lost a lot. But each time he continues to do ALL that he can with what he has. We are all very good at kicking each other in the tail when we start to feel sorry for ourselves.
If I could have talked to myself that day in 1995, I would have told myself not to be so terrified. My Dad would go on to speak at MS conferences. He and my mother would become active in the MS community. I did become a teacher and have been living that dream for 18 years. I did get married (not to the first guy, but that is another story) and I have two great kids. And everyday that I see my Dad get on the floor and play with them is a gift that I will treasure for as long as I get to see it!