I have a remarkable sister… and brother-in-law. Having MS is only a small part of who he is. Today’s Guest post is by my twin sister and better half, Michelle.
You’re told you have Multiple Sclerosis. You research MS and learn that it’s an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your nerve cells and damages the protective sheath, resulting in disruption of messages being transmitted to and from the brain and often leading to disability. Doctor’s can’t tell you the cause or what the course of the disease will be for you. They don’t have many answers and they cannot offer a cure. Depending on how advanced your stage of MS is, you’ll be offered medication that might help slow the progression of the disease but not all medications work and some medications can cause life-threatening infection. So Doctors will treat your symptoms.
You’ll see a neurologist for regular exams. If you have sleep disruption, you’re sent for sleep studies. For cognitive fog, you’ll see a therapist. For bladder issues, you’ll see a urologist. Gait and balance issues are addressed in physical therapy. You’ll have a myriad of medical appointments on your calendar, but you really won’t know what the next week, month or year has in store for you. And this unknown territory coupled with the loss of control is the nightmare that is MS.
For anyone diagnosed with MS, your experience living with it will be unique from the next person who is diagnosed. You may hear of some people living with the disease for long periods of time with very little disruption in functioning. For that reason, friends, family and strangers will tell you about others they know that live with the disease and are doing great. You’ll be told to try alternative therapies and special diets, to stay away from diet soda, to give new vitamin regimens a try or to read an new article on the latest therapy. You may find that people don’t know what to say at all, so they say nothing or they distance themselves from you. The reality of losing people in your life because of this disease may upset you. You may feel like you’ve been dealt a bad hand in life and this may make living with MS difficult.
My husband has Multiple Sclerosis.
Diagnosed in 2012, he was hit with this blow shortly after losing his big brother & only sibling to Esophageal Cancer. Either one of these two devastating, life-altering events would threaten to break an ordinary person. To lose the rock of your family, the one you looked up to and had by your side all of your life is pain like no other. Then, to be told you have a progressive neurological disease that could result in disability and your Doctors have no idea what the future holds for you is frightening in every sense of the word.
But my husband is Mike O’Grady – and he’s extraordinary. So much so, that he is bigger than his MS. Let me tell you about him.
He is the strongest, most gentle, hard-working, truth-seeking and sincere person I know. I met him in my late 20s at a time in my life where I discovered who I was and what I wanted in life. At the risk of sounding “kooky” I believe I manifested him from my dreams of finding someone who can love me with every fiber of his being and also accept me for exactly the person I am.
When I met him, I thought he’d make a terrific guy friend. Someone I can build a cool friendship with. He was friendly, fun and made me laugh. The more time I spent with him, the more special he became to me. I learned how strong and sensitive he is and how much he values family. It was the most natural, effortless relationship I’ve ever had. At some point I realized I had found my soulmate and from there, we built a family & a happy life together.
I have seen him accomplish great things from his strong will to succeed. His sales & consulting career was impressive; he was always setting and blowing past his aggressive goals. His work ethic was outstanding; he wrote articles for industry magazines, taped videos for his website, and published a book to help companies with their sales. Everywhere he went in business he made a friend and helped someone. His goal then, now & always – is to have greater purpose in life that makes a difference for others.
Although MS has changed the way Mike spends his time today, he continues to wake each day with the same values, purpose & will to succeed. Despite the MS, everyday he pushes himself past his pain and the limits his body has set for him, and challenges his mind as well. Although his body screams to not move, he gets up and heads to the gym a few times each week because he knows he needs to keep his body strong. He makes breakfast for the kids every morning. He does bills and paperwork, even though his brain fights him on complex tasks. He reads even though his eyes and mind will tire soon after. He stays connected to his work, offering help to businesses even though his energy is limited… and the list goes on and on.
He lives each day with greater purpose and pushes himself through his struggles and he does this to keep his family safe, comfortable, happy, well-adjusted and normal as normal can be. Every moment in every day my husband demonstrates how much bigger, stronger and more powerful he is than the MS he is living with.
Like I said, my husband is Mike O’Grady and he is a super hero.
Guest writer Michelle O’Grady lives in Lincroft with her husband, Mike, their 3 children and several fluffly, four-legged friends. She finds herself fortunate to be able to work full-time from home as a Project Mgr with Amare and spends her spare time with family, friends, walking, biking & on creative projects when the inspiration hits her. Her favorite quote: “Life is for Learning…” by CSNY.