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Blessed with MS

Blog Summary

Just from the title of this blog, you may be curious how a person can feel blessed with multiple sclerosis. Well my friend, I’m here to open up about my experience and expand your mind frame! As you know, MS is a chronic disease. This is understandable and well known, but it lacks something more. You see, you’re wonderfully made, and if you didn’t know, now’s the time to acknowledge it. Know that even if your body goes through some changes, it’ll never take away your credibility...

MS at the Airport

Blog Summary

If you have ever taken a flight, you know how stressful airports can be. Some flights run smoothly, while others are delayed with little warning. People walking as slow as they possibly can, others at full sprint. Predicting what a day at the airport will entail is almost impossible.   Basically, no matter how well you prepare, airports are generally one of the most hectic parts of a vacation. Multiple sclerosis adds another hurdle into this mix. After all, large airports, varying temperatures and gate changes test the limits of even the healthiest travelers...

The Mask

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​Living with multiple sclerosis, I often feel like I’m wearing a mask. A disguise of sorts for protection. But sometimes, it’s hard to tell whom I’m protecting more–myself or others around me...

When the Medication Stops Working

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Being diagnosed with MS comes with enough baggage all on its own. But going through two years of a specific form of therapy and hearing the news that the medication hasn’t actually been working? Now that’s its own animal.   Hearing the phrase “we need to switch your medication, you’ve developed new lesions” is never something someone with MS wants to hear. After going through the turmoil of the diagnosis, finishing my bachelor’s degree without my dominant hand, and finally getting back on my feet (literally), the last thing I wanted to hear was that I was still developing lesions...

Flying My Fatigue Flag

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I tried not to make eye contact with her in the elevator while I pushed the button for the floor directly above us. I knew that it was bound to happen sooner or later, and I hoped that by not looking at her, she wouldn’t engage. But it did happen. It only happened just that once, but it was enough to make me feel about an inch tall.   “You’re so lazy!” she exclaimed. It was meant as a joke, but she wasn’t exactly known around the office for being timid or tactful. Joke or not, I immediately went on the defensive. She didn’t know I didn’t sleep well the night before. She didn’t know I could’ve (and would’ve) climbed the stairs, just one floor up, but I chose to conserve my waning energy instead...

Like a Box of Chocolates

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A few Sundays ago, I woke up with a tingling sensation in my left fingertips. It was irritating, but unfortunately when you have MS, waking up with a new or odd sensation is a common occurrence. Life goes on…

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

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When I was first diagnosed about 30 years ago, MS was some mysterious, archaic, incurable disease that not many had heard of, let alone understood. When my doctor told me good luck and sent me on my way, I knew it was my job to bury it and never look back. After all, if I couldn't fix it, I didn't want any part of it. I knew there were groups that helped people "cope" with this illness, but if I attended a meeting, it would only mean two things. One, I would surely face my inevitably bleak future, and two, it would mean I've accepted that I actually have MS. I wasn't ready to own it at this point, or ever...

Another Way to Serve My Country

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I first experienced MS symptoms in the fall of 2001 while I was stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base as the senior protestant chaplain. When my primary care manager at Grand Forks suggested MS as a possibility, I started researching the disease, but all of my tests were inconclusive. After being transferred to Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, I was referred to the chief of neurology at the University of Florida Medical School in Gainesville. I took my records, MRI films, x-rays and other documents with me to the appointment. Very shortly after we met in September of 2003 he said, “let’s call this what it is. You have MS.” Although I am retired from the Air Force, my passion for serving my country has not changed. I’ve simply re-focused my attention towards our elected officials as an advocate. As a chaplain and pastor, I have regularly encountered views different than mine. I expect it. People have different beliefs and cultural norms which govern their lives. 

Your Path is Yours

Blog Summary

​In the dark days following my diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, I found light with the help of family, friends and a newfound strength. My MS diagnosis even spurred me to follow my dreams—I finally finished my novel and signed with my literary agent last December. Overall, my path post-diagnosis has been a positive one...

A Bike Ride with My Son

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“You can do it, dad!” Those words reverberate through my head and pulse through my veins every time I ride at Bike MS.

Habits – Friends and Foes

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I was lucky to attend this year’s annual meeting of the Consortium of MS Centers, held in late May in New Orleans. There were a lot of interesting talks, and you can read about highlights here, browse slide presentations here and summaries (abstracts) here.   One presentation that really hit home for me was a talk about habits by Gabe Byars, an occupational therapist from the Salt Lake Community College in Utah. Habits are behaviors we do without having to think too much about them -- like walking into the house and always putting our keys in the same spot. Gabe said that habits make up about 43 percent of our daily actions. That sounds like a lot of time -- maybe that is where the saying “we are creatures of habit” comes from...