My Support

Taxes.
 
They are a part of our everyday life, from the dollar cup of coffee to the chasm that separates our salary and our take home money in our paychecks. After finding out I had MS, the last thing I needed to hear was that I had to pay another tax. However, this one was different.

 
When I got my diagnosis, my neurologist provided a perfect analogy that has guided me and my wife over the past eight months.
 
He compared MS to a tax that your body has to pay. Sometimes the taxes are high, while other times it’s low. Regardless, you need to always make sure you have a way to pay this tax. In our case, that currency is rest. The more rest I have, the more I’ll be able to cope and survive with the inevitable symptoms that will tax both my physical and mental health.
 
I am lucky to be a father and teacher. While I genuinely love these vocations, they each offer a unique challenge to a “restful” life. Between the 2 and 5-year-old at home and the one hundred ninth graders at work, I am consistently being pushed and pulled in many directions without many moments to sit down and catch my breath. Over time, these responsibilities quickly run me into the ground, setting off “mini’ flare ups of my MS, with headaches, fatigue and the irritability that comes with both.

Fortunately, I am also lucky enough to be a husband.
 
frank-and-wife.jpgI met my wife, Kate, 12 years ago, and since that time we have experienced the sweetest of joys and the harshest of sorrows. Through it all, she has been an amazing support as we navigated through waters that have no doubt damaged, if not broken, many relationships. So it hasn’t been a surprise that since my diagnosis, she has propped our family on her back and carried us all.
 
I sit here in a quiet house, typing this blog because she took the boys out. First the park, then the mall, then off for some lunch. From doing these trips, I know just how difficult they can be. In and out of car seats, skinned knees from a playground fall or just two brothers acting like brothers; these trips are draining to say the least. But each and every weekend, my wife makes sure that she does these things.
 
She does them for me. She does them so I can rest in order to feel as good as I can when I battle this disease each and every day. She does them because she loves me.
 
While I deal with MS on a first-hand basis, she might have an even greater task: dealing and helping a loved one who has MS. My symptoms lead me to be short with her and our children, physically exhausted or mentally strained from a combination of everything. Through everything, she is there for me, unwavering in her love and just as importantly, her understanding of what I’m going through.
 
Love and partnership are incredibly powerful tools that help us find happiness in an often times challenging world. I have never been able to think about a life without Kate, but the struggles that are now in my life because of MS make these thoughts an impossibility. Her love, partnership and support are keeping me going more than any medicine could. I hope that everyone is as fortunate as I am to have a person like her in their life.
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Frank

Frank McCaughey

Frank McCaughey is a husband, father and teacher in New York. He was diagnosed with MS in August 2016. In addition to his family and his career, Frank is a volunteer fireman and an avid sports fan.

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    13 Comments

  • Jeanne   Jun 13, 2017 2:09 PM
    You are an inspiration, Frank and Kate! No doubt you have been dealt an unfair hand in this. But what a miracle that you have each other!
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    gabbisino  Jun 13, 2017 2:15 PM
    I am new and rather confused...I am trying to work my way around, but I don't know how to see the people on here or their profiles or how to get support. Thanks.
  • Catherine   Jun 13, 2017 2:58 PM
    My husband was diagnosed almost 30 years ago. It was an extremely difficult time for our family as I was a stay-at-home mom and we had two children. After a very rocky two year period I settled into full time work and ended up finding myself professionally in the process. I'm now retired so find myself "slowing down" more and more which only makes me more patient with my husband who still climbs stairs every night to get to bed. I often look back at that period in our lives and regret many of my reactions and actions. Hang in there as a family and you too will find your equilibrium.
    All the best!
  • julie   Jun 15, 2017 11:08 AM
    Frank--I am happy for you. MS has broken my 32 yr old marriage. I am in need of a support team.
  • Pat Kipf   Jun 15, 2017 12:02 PM
    There is no greater medicine than the love and support of partner. My wife works in the health care field everyday, now with my MS, we stared with PPMS, I went from working and tired to disabled and home bound in 9 months. she comes home and helps with,y needs. I feel guilty for making her home life so much like her working life. But everyday, every chalange she is there by my side. My strongest supporter and harshest critic, but always thinking of us. Those people are special, because it's so easy to give in and leave.
  • Sammy   Jun 15, 2017 5:37 PM
    Frank,

    Your story really hit me hard. When I read about your wife doing all things with the children, etc, I cried happy tears. Even though your wife doesn't have MS she understands what she can't see. My ex-boyfriend did not understand what he could not see. Six months ago I left him because I was heading for a relapse. Today I am taking care of myself and feeling well. Give your wife a hug for me. She is an amazing woman!
  • Ryan   Jun 19, 2017 7:34 AM
    Thanks for posting this.

    I was diagnosed with MS in May of 2014, barely six months after I married my wife. She has been a tremendous support of me and my changing needs. Your description of the love and support Kate gives you each day is an example of how we should appreciate those who care for us through this journey. "Guys" aren't always good at expressing this type of thing, but you nailed it.

    Thanks again...
  • kboeldt  Jun 19, 2017 7:35 PM
    Hi, I'm curious if you take any medication? My husband has had MS for 20 years.
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    Marcus  Jun 27, 2017 11:34 AM
    Frank, you are incredibly fortunate to have Kate support you. Don't ever take that for granted.
  • Sandra Velez   Jun 27, 2017 11:53 AM
    You have an awesome wife/ support, love everything you guys do to keep your family together. You are one of the reasons I ride MS150😀
  • Francine   Jun 27, 2017 11:54 AM
    Thank you for sharing this! Great analogy and made me feel as though I'm not alone in this. I was diagnosed in 2009 and still working full-time. I won't give up and go on disability until absolutely necessary. One day at a time is what I keep reminding myself through the struggles. Your story is inspiring and encouraging. Thanks again!
  • Anna Ray   Jun 27, 2017 12:30 PM
    I enjoyed your article and especially your neuro's advice. After having my boyfriend break things off upon my diagnosis 5 years ago I also appreciate how much a supportive spouse, which I have now, can be. Thank goodness for people like this. Best of health to you and yours. Keep fighting and "paying your MS taxes".
  • Larry R.   Jun 27, 2017 9:00 PM
    The mere recitation of wedding vows are the foundation for better or worse, and with MS our vows suddenly germinated and "worse" became the new normal planting itself in the prime of our lives. My loving wife saw an opportunity to make the best of a perilous condition as MS advanced, at times, ahead of us forcing us to abandon plan A implementing plan B, or C, or D keeping us vigilant for the next assault. I am at war with MS and with confidence I can say I have not won too many battles against it. My wife has seen the pain, the frustration, helped me up when I was down mired in sorrow and despair, cried. MS isn't me; it's both of us. Marriage vows are the, uh, crazy glue that binds. Worked for us.