I’m a National Little Britches Rodeo alumni, a professional entertainer, a teacher, and a Multiple Sclerosis patient. I’ve written a paper back book titled “MS ENTERTAINER” about my first year with Multiple Sclerosis. My book was published by iUniverse in 2010 and is highly accessible to patients on Google, Amazon, Songstall and Barnes & Noble.
© 2010 Bonnie Lynne Ellison
All Rights Reserved
Bonnie Lynne Ellison opened her eyes slowly, laying in the dirt, surrounded by cowboys with jeans, boots and hats, and paramedics with a stretcher. “Don’t move! Don’t move! What hurts?” With the help of smelling salts, she was relieved that her horse was standing close by.
“Lady” was a big girl . . . 1500 pounds of muscle and determination. Bonnie was a sixteen year old brown-eyed, brown-haired girl . . . 120 pounds of “no fear,” and full of determination to win the National Little Britches Rodeo Championship Saddle in Littleton, Colorado. Each had a mind of their own. Unfortunately, Bonnie was seriously outweighed when her horse reared up, and fell over backwards, on top of her.
“Give the little lady a hand,” the announcer suggested as they carried her in front of the grandstand, towards the First Aid Station. “I raised my arm, acknowledging the audience’s support, and to show my mom that I was still alive,” she said. “I’m a born entertainer. I love the applause.”
After x-rays, Dr. Frank Mataurano’s final report was a badly bruised left leg, multiple bruises, pulled tendons, and squashed muscles. She got wrapped up and received a cane to maneuver.
Nine years later, Bonnie changed from the rodeo circuit to the entertainment circuit. Performing in Olympia, Washington, at the Evergreen Inn, with her partners Frank Bruen and Jerry Jacobs, their group, the F.A.B. Company, did a quiet show using acoustical instruments while emphasizing their original songs and comedy.
“Soon, strange, unrelated things started happening to me,” she remembers. “My right foot turned over easily, I started limping, and I was dropping everything. On my third wedding anniversary, I received a dozen long stemmed red roses from my husband. After my roses arrived, I jumped out of bed to answer my morning wake-up call, ran into the dresser, and barely saved my flowers from falling to the floor.” Later while performing, when she lost her balance on the stage, and almost fell off backwards, she decided to call a doctor.
The doctor recognized that something was wrong. Surprisingly, a leg examination pointed to a problem in her brain. “Certain messages are not being transmitted properly,” the emergency hospital doctor explained, “The problem could be anything from a minor nervous disorder to Multiple Sclerosis.” She decided to go home to get a few more opinions from the Colorado medical world.
Bonnie has Multiple Sclerosis. She was diagnosed at twenty-five years old. “It affected me like a stroke. The right side of my body was paralyzed,” she said. Today, she is sixty-five years old and shares her incurable disease with “approximately 500,000 other people in the United States and 2.5 million people worldwide.”
She learned that Multiple Sclerosis is defined as a degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Degenerative means that there is deterioration of the cells involved. It concentrates on the central nervous system, the brain and the spinal cord, which is essential for directing nerve impulses throughout the body. MS often, progressively gets worse with time. The disease may affect almost any part of the body.
Reoccurring attacks known as exacerbations, or relapses, are interspersed with periods of partial or complete recovery known as remissions. Recovery may be due to a substance called myelin.
Nervous fibers or tracks in the brain and spinal cord are wrapped in myelin, a white fatty material which protects the fibers and helps conduct nervous impulses. When myelin is destroyed, called demyelination, nervous impulses are disrupted and myelin is broken down, leaving hardened patches of scar tissue throughout the brain and spinal cord.
“Sclerosis” means hardening in Greek. Since the disease affects multiple parts of the central nervous system with multiple exacerbations, it is called Multiple Sclerosis.
Numerous drugs are being used as treatments in an effort to relieve the symptoms and to counteract MS complications. I was given ACTH (a)dreno (c)ortico (t)ropic (h)ormone and Predinisone in 1973. Exacerbations are unpredictable. Exciting research is being done and new drugs, new injection and oral therapies, are presently being used as treatments.
“I think that I’ve experienced every problem that you can with MS,” she said, “but I’ve been fortunate. After several years, my disease was termed “stabilized,” and I was able to regain my “near normality.” She performed for Gary Morris, “International Award Winning Vocalist and Actor (www.garymorris.com) and continued to entertain with the F.A.B. Company, her national recording and performing show group. She even went back to school to get her Broker’s License in Real Estate and her Elementary Education License in teaching..
She attributes her recovery to early diagnosis of the disease, her doctors, the support of her family and friends, her competitive nature, her spiritual growth, and her daughter.
Living with Multiple Sclerosis for 40 years, she said her spiritual awakening has helped her to cope. “I always wanted to be a singer. My dream came true. Now, I’m closer to my God who guides me, comforts me, and takes care of me. He gives me words to say, songs to sing, and music to play. Now I’m a Grandmother and a Substitute Teacher . . . a songwriter who believes in miracles.”