MS no longer something to be ashamed of

Amanda, my grandson Jeff’s wife, is a beautiful dark-haired, dark-eyed, devoted wife and mother of four. Her smile lights up a room. If you met this vibrant woman, you would never know she is living with a progressive autoimmune disorder, a disease that affects 2.5 million people around the world.

Amanda recalled: “I can remember looking over at my husband and mother and seeing their faces as the doctor gave me the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. It was March 2009, one month after our wedding. We had three small children and our world was about to change.”

Amanda explained: “The first sign I had that something was wrong was when I began to lose vision in my right eye. I put off seeing a doctor, hoping my sight would improve, but my vision worsened and I knew I needed to have it checked out.”

Amanda went to several doctors and had many tests. When she heard the doctor’s diagnosis, Amanda explained: “At the time, I didn’t know much about MS; I wasn’t too concerned until I looked over at my mom. She is a nurse and the look of shock and worry on her face told me this was serious.”

After Amanda’s diagnosis, she immediately started on IV steroids to help decrease the inflammation and lessen the length of the flare up.

Amanda and my grandson adore children, and they wanted more if they could do so safely. The doctor agreed to hold off additional treatments. After their fourth child was born, Amanda’s neurologist started her on daily injections. The shots were extremely painful. I can remember seeing the welts on her arms and the look of concern and sadness in her eyes, and my heart ached for her.

Amanda said: “I suffered from flu-like symptoms as a side effect of the medication. The MS affected my emotions, I became anxious and depressed. I was given another type of injection along with a variety of prescriptions, but I didn’t feel better. I wanted my life back. I desperately wanted to have an active role in my kid’s lives. I felt like I was failing my husband and my children. I hated how I felt, both physically and emotionally.”

Amanda continued: “In April 2015, I had lost our fifth child. We were devastated. The miscarriage required a surgery that ended up being more serious than the doctors initially expected. The recovery was difficult. My MS symptoms increased significantly, almost overnight.”

It was at that time that Amanda realized she needed to try something else. The prescriptions weren’t helping, and neither were the injections. In June 2015, she began her search for a more holistic approach to control her symptoms in an effort to relieve her depression, anxiety, fatigue, pain, vertigo and migraines. Amanda found amazing relief in a combination of natural supplements.

Amanda continues to see her physician and neurologist. They are aware she is also using Plexus, a natural supplement. Amanda realizes that the supplement will not cure her disease, but her symptoms have greatly diminished allowing her to live life in a way that is important to her.

It is heartwarming to see Amanda down on the floor playing with her children. She attends their school events and is also a teacher’s aide. She worries less and smiles more. She has energy and a zest for life. An amazing transformation would be putting it lightly!

Amanda commented: “Three years ago I was in a bad place, sad and living in a broken body and spirit. I hid my symptoms and my disease from others, ashamed to let people know I had MS. I kept people at a distance, afraid they would discover my secret.”

Amanda did not want sympathy, she just wanted to live a normal life enjoying her marriage and children.

“Today, I look at my future through new eyes, with a new mindset,” she said. “I know there will be MRIs that come back showing my MS has progressed and there will be more flare-ups. I know I will live with this disease the rest of my life, but I also know I have a life to live, I have an incredible husband who loves and supports me and four amazing children who bring me joy every single day. I am very blessed.”

Amanda added: “I believe I was given this mountain to show others it can be moved. I no longer hide in silence. I am happy to tell others who are suffering in silence there is hope. It is a disease we will live with the rest of our lives, but we do have a choice on how we handle it. I choose to continue to fight, to continue to focus on the beauty in this life and to never let it defeat me. I have places to go and things to do.”

Question: Who were the owners of Shawano News and Liquor in 1991?

Clothesline Conversation Answer: Ruth and Orville Hartleben

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.