My MS journal
The list of things I can’t do has grown with time. But so has the list of things I can.
by Jane Markey
I was born on Feb. 27, 1957. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was 30 years old. I have a daughter, Kristi, who was only 2 years old, and a son, Michael, who was 4 years old, at the time.
Let me begin at the beginning. The year was 1987.
One day, I noticed that when I bent my head down, my hands would tingle.
I lost my balance on the last step of the basement stairs and fell. I went to the doctor, who ordered an MRI. When the results came back, he told me I had multiple sclerosis. The news sent me into a crying frenzy. I knew nothing about MS. I thought I was going to die in a short time.
I made an appointment with a neurologist, who described some of the things that probably would happen as time went by. I didn’t want to think about it.
I was sure those things weren’t going to happen to me.
Two years after my diagnosis, my husband, Michael, and I participated in a walkathon for MS. About halfway through, I realized I couldn’t make the rest of the walk. MS was rearing its ugly head.
We still led active lives. We went white-water rafting, we skied, we played tennis and racquetball. But as time went on, I couldn’t do as much. My legs kept giving me trouble. I began walking with a cane. And I was running out of reasons for why I couldn’t do the things I used to be able to do. I could no longer blame it on being tired or out of shape.
Believe it or not, I loved cutting the grass. But even that became a challenge. For some reason, I couldn’t pull the cord to start the mower.
My neurologist told me my MS could affect more than just my legs. I started swimming, which did help with my legs.
After I “graduated” from a cane to a walker, I had to give up going to the pool because it was too hard for me to get around. The stairs in the house became impossible to navigate. I had to stop driving. I began to have muscle spasms in my feet and calves.
Eventually, we moved into a ranch house with no steps. And we built a pool in the backyard. I used it nearly every day. After being in the pool, I noticed so much improvement in my legs.
And now, to the present. I’m 64 years old. I use a wheelchair all the time. It’s been quite a journey, and I’ve learned a great deal.
MS has taken away my ability to use my legs.
It has reduced my stamina and affected my strength. It’s starting to affect my vision. But what it hasn’t done and what it will never do is take away my memories or my ability to treasure all the good things in my life.
MS is an absolutely horrible incurable disease. But even though I was dealt a bad hand, I’m still in the game. Don’t deal me out!
I’m not going down without a fight. So hold on to your hat.