A disease where your body attacks itself, where the communication between body and brain and brain and body goes all wack-o.
What causes it? No one knows.
What exactly will happen to those individuals who are affected by it? No one knows, but everyone will be affected in one way or another.
My baby sister (who will turn 39 this Friday!) was diagnosed with MS almost 14 years ago when, after losing her vision for days, she went to the doctor. She likes to say that the scan of her head revealed the existence of her brain, but it also showed the reality of MS.
I was very pregnant when she called and told me the news. And when I hung up, I cried. What exactly did it mean? What was going to happen to my sister?
Well, it meant she gave herself a shot everyday. It meant that she waited for an attack that could affect any part of her body. And for years, she took her medication (shots in her thighs, arms, and stomach, shots that hurt, shots that left odd lumps and indents on her body) with no sign of the disease.
All the while modern medical people made serious advances and an everyday shot turned into every other day. YEA!
She had small attacks. Her hips gave her problems. Fatigue. When the MS struck, her doctor prescribed steroids. Let me tell you how much my sister hates steroids. Hates. Roid rage is real, ask her. She kept smiling, determined to live her life and not let MS steal her power.
Eventually it turned into taking a pill everyday. YEA!
Then a major attack hit a few years ago, affecting her speech. For me, living hundreds of miles away, the whole thing didn’t seem real. I talked to her on the phone, hearing her stutter, struggling to stay positive, to keep hold of herself.
She went on vacation with us that summer to visit family in Massachusetts, she hiked up a mountain and canoed along a river. She struggled, but held that smile, held onto the fact that she was still mostly capable. She wore herself out, probably more than she should have. That’s my sister…she’s a fighter, aka stubborn.
She’s mostly recovered from that hit. After all the trouble, her doctor took her easy-peasy pills away and she’s back to giving herself a shot, yet because of the advances in medication the dreaded shot-time isn’t as terrible. She celebrates this.
Last Saturday morning I joined hundreds of people in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana for the MS Walk. Thanks to Chrissie and Erin for inviting me to join them! People dressed in orange shirts, some with fluffy tutus, funny hats, and carrying the names of those they walked for written with love on shirts walked three miles through Headwaters Park.
We walk to raise money to end MS, to keep the lives of those living with the disease as good as it can be for as long as possible. There have been tremendous advances in medical research in the last 20 years and someday there will be a cure.
There will be.
So we walk.
I walk for my sister.
Love you, Janet!