My A-Ha Moment

Born in December 1976, I am a child of the 80s.

One of the most quintessential songs of that era was “Take On Me” by the band A-Ha. 


So, it was much to my amusement when the other night, I dreamt that the band was hanging out in my living room.

In my dream, there was also a woman – who I presume was their business manager – and she was frequently walking in and out of the room while speaking incoherently into her phone. She asked to use my office so she could continue her call, in privacy.

I was asking the band if they ever tire of performing the same song or whether it bothers them how “Take On Me” overshadows everything else they’ve ever done. As they were about to respond, the mystery woman returns, holding a copy of one of my stories.

An uneasy feeling overtook me. I knew, in that moment, my secret was out. She read a piece of my work, which read:

“It’s not that I intentionally try to hide that I have MS... but sometimes, it’s just nice to have a MS-free conversation, particularly with a new acquaintance. I often worry that once I drop the MS Grenade, it overshadows and dominates the rest of our introduction.”

The woman expressed that my words had special meaning because her sister had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. 

Gone was her all-business demeanor, now replaced with raw emotion.

She said my story helped her understand the experience her sister was going through. My words colored in many lines she had been unable to see or comprehend. She asked for my contact information and all three of them thanked me for my work.

Then I woke up.

In my dream, none of us were crying, but I awoke with a few tears in my eyes.

As I laid there, I attempted to process what had just occurred. Perhaps sometimes a dream is just a dream. Or… maybe not.

You see, this past year, I’ve been struggling to write. To continue to tell my story. To share with the world what it is like living with MS.

It’s not that I don’t have the words… I’ve had plenty. Where I’ve fallen short is with embracing my story.

I’ve deleted entire paragraphs or saved posts for future use because I just wasn’t feeling them. Why? 

Ultimately, it was out of fear.

Fear that I’ve reached the saturation point in my attempts to wax poetically about being a husband and father living with MS.

I began to worry that, to others, I’ve become a one-dimensional version of myself.

I succeeded in the business world, earned an MBA and enjoy raising two energetic tweens with my beautiful wife. I’m a Dad joke aficionado, believe April Fool’s Day should be celebrated monthly, enjoy jigsaw puzzles and checking out new restaurants. I love to learn, read, meet new people, and I’m a pretty bad ass baker, if I may say so myself.

I’m not just the MS Guy – I’m more than just foot drop and extreme fatigue – and that’s what I worried I had become.

In its own whimsical way, my dream reminded me that all the quirky things that make me who I am also make my writing what I hope it to be – a unique voice in the MS community, that helps raise awareness and understanding of our disease.

Writing about MS can be emotionally draining… a constant reminder that I have this damn disease, even if sometimes I don’t want to admit it.

But when I hear from others that my words have helped them, whether they have MS or not – that’s my motivation to continue.

In the U.S., there are almost a million people living with this chronic disease.

We are professionals, spouses, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors…

We like to cook, laugh, hang out with family or friends, travel, listen to music…

We do it while living in our parallel MS universe of doctor’s appointments, bizarre sensations, invisible symptoms and frustrating limitations.

For each of us, we are much more than just MS. 

That. 

That’s why I write.
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Michael

Michael Wentink, Blogger

In 2008, Michael Wentink was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. At 31, he was a new father, a recent MBA graduate and a Director at a Fortune 500 company. MS altered this path and after an early retirement, Michael is now navigating life on a road less traveled. A native of Northern Virginia, Michael currently resides in San Antonio, Texas with his wife and two young children. Read about his journey with multiple sclerosis at mjwentink.com and follow him on Twitter.