In 2007, my only information about Multiple Sclerosis came from the television show The West Wing. While watching the fictional Barlett’s struggle with the condition, I never imagined that a few years later Brenda and I would be the ones facing the struggle.
Looking back on it now, we know that Brenda’s blurred vision was the first symptom. She had gotten new glasses and her vision cleared in a few weeks, so we thought it was just taking her longer to get use to them.
When she was hospitalized with Hereditary Antithrombin Deficiency, one of the residents told us her MRI showed signs of MS, but it was dismissed by other doctors. We were so worried about the four TIAs that had left for a short time totally paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak that we couldn’t focus on anything else.
Through the years, Brenda started having other minor medical issues that seemed totally unrelated. When exploratory surgery found no reason for the pain in her left knee, we ended up meeting with a neurologist. We thought maybe the pain was related to back problems, but he discounted it and instead sent her for a spinal tap. The results were Primary Progressive MS. We knew from The West Wing, this was the bad version of MS.
MS changes a person in ways that it is hard to imagine. It robs you of your energy and vitality, turns your muscles against you, than worst of all is Pseudobulbar Affect that robs you of part of your personality. The person I married and loved for twenty-five years had become someone different and our relationship and loved changed with her.
Like anyone facing such an overwhelming medical condition, we work hard on keeping in the here and now and avoid thinking about what could have been. Our life together has changed beyond anything I can describe, but we adapt, we struggle, and we put on faith in God and each other that we will face each challenge together.