Every mom wants to do the best she can to care for her kids and keep them safe from harm: We make sure our cars are equipped with proper safety equipment like anti-lock brakes and strap them lovingly into child seats and seatbelts to protect them in case of an accident. We make sure they are wearing a helmet when learning to ride a bike. At home, we hide the dangerous chemicals and put away the knives.
But there are some things we can't prepare for, or protect our children from, such as devastating illnesses. Sometimes, our babies grow up safe and sound, and we still find ourselves taking care of them later in life. In that case, we want to ensure they are comfortable and looked after, and do our best to keep life as normal as possible when it might feel out of our control.
Case in point: Multiple Sclerosis
My son Joe, now 40, has been fighting MS since 2002 and has a spinal cord injury due to a car accident in 2005 related to his MS. Joe currently has primary-progressive MS. Joe’s biggest challenges are staying out of the hospital and free from infections -- and learning to use his new power wheelchair.
When my daughter Marie, age 37 and a mother of two children ages six
and eight, was recently diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, I felt like lightning struck in same place twice. While the illness causes numbness in her hands and feet, flu symptoms, and fatigue from weekly shots, being a working mom with MS is a challenge in itself.
I have come to learn that the challenges of MS affect the entire family. I'm sometimes overwhelmed by the gravity of the disease and the horrible impact it's having on my children, in fact, on our entire family.
Being a caregiver to a person with MS can be a challenge.
Joe was hospitalized from December 2012 to February 2013 due to a major exacerbation that caused many complications and took away much of his independent living skills. Since then, I have joined Joe's wife Rosanna to become part of Joe's 24/7 caregiver team, and have even learned to be a pureed diet gourmet cook for him.
Rosanna recently won the "Caregiver of the Month" honor from Healthy Women. She is an avid snow boarder and together she and Joe have formed the non-profit foundation Threus.org to help others with spinal cord diseases go skiing, surfing, kayaking, and even white water rafting. Prior to his recent exacerbation, Joe was an enthusiastic paraplegic skier and skydiver, and as soon as he is stable again, the two are planning to scuba dive together. It's an important goal to Joe, who values and wants his independence back.
Educating, Donating, Working Together to Overcome Multiple Sclerosis
I would trade places with my children in a heartbeat. However since that's not possible I will fight to find every resource to help them and help fund research to find better treatments and hopefully one day a cure!
During the month of May, we at AskPatty are partnering with the National MS Society to raise awareness of the disease with our MOMS (Moms Oppose Multiple Sclerosis) social media campaign.
On World MS Day (Wednesday, May 29, 2013), AskPatty will be hosting a special Twitter Party at 5 pm (PDT), where we will have an assortment of guests on hand to educate participants about the illness, and to discuss ways we can work together to overcome MS. We have also created an official MOMS donation page where supporters can contribute directly to the Society to help research prevention, treatments, and a cure.
Please join us in our MOMS social awareness campaign as we discuss Educating, Donating, Working Together to Overcome Multiple Sclerosis!