Tuesday, September 21, 2004

By Frank; In the beginning; a new lifestyle

It all started 20 yrs ago. First my 20/20 vision deteriorated suddenly. My depth perception was diminished and I developed color blindness. There was no explanation. The CAT scan found no brain tumor and there was no noticable reason the doctors could pinpoint. Several months later my wife recalled a bout of Shingles I had had earlier. The doctor deduced that that was the cause. Since then other doctors have speculated that the Shingles were the trip-wire that spawned the MS. Who knows?

I went on with life, the color blindnes and depth perception problems went away. The vision almost returned to normal. But, as time passed other seemingly minor issues began to emerge. First after 10 years or so I began to notice that when I wrote certain numbers and letters the pencil would jump slightly out of control. The problem effected 3s and 7s first. I remember being frustrated by the spasm, for lack of a better word, that always seemed to occur when I wrote those numbers.

At the time Corinne, my wife, and I played golf twice a week. I began to notice that walking the course was a struggle. I seemed to have to sit and rest between holes often. I mentioned it to the doctor during one of my annual physicals. He suggested that I was dehydrated and needed to drink more fluids while on the golfcourse. Jokingly we disussed whether increasing the beer intake during the round would help.

Others began to notice a limp in my gate. I didn't notice it or feel it. If I didn't notice or feel it, how could it be something of concern?

At another annual physical the doctor suggested I visit a Neurologist for further investigation. Why not? I felt fine, there was nothing wrong with me. Let him check me over, give me the green light and off I'd go.

The Neurologist took a history, did a physical exam and asked me to walk down the hall. OK, no big deal. Dr. Shokrae then made the following observations. First, I walked with a rather wide stance. Second, he noticed the limp. Then he said he wanted to run some tests to rule out certain diseases. Ok, no big deal.

All I had to endure was an MRI, a lumbar puncture and a visual acuity test. Apart from the headaches associated with the lumbar punture it was a painless experience.

Then came the meeting with Dr. Shokrae to review the outcome of the tests. As we sat in his 7th floor office he began to point out the lesions on and in the brain. Afterword my wife revealed that she was concerned about what the prognosis was. I was in shock. I was confused. And I was at least a bit scared. At that point what I knew about MS was limited. I was sure it wasn't good but I didn't know what to expect.

Since that day lots of things have changed. I'm retired now. I get up every morning and make my wife's breakfast. Do the laundry. Run whatever errands need to be run through the week. Granted it is not as fullfilling as managing a field service organization, but it is a purpose! And I'm thankful to have the soulmate that I have.

I accept the lifestyle changes that come with MS. I accept the fact that tomorrow may be different, that I might not be able to perform as well physically as I did yesterday. That I might need a little help along the way.

I now know that MS is what we all, regardless of our position in life, fear the most- CHANGE!