10 years of MS teaches adjustment, gratitude

My grandson Jeff married his love, Amanda, a beautiful and caring person. Shortly after they married, Amanda went to the doctor. Here is her story in her own heartfelt words.

“This month marks 10 years since being diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). As I looked around in our new house that is now home to us, and thought about how content our sweet family is, I also reflected on how far we have come and how much has changed in 10 years.

“I still remember what it felt like to be in that doctor’s office, the vision in my right eye fading a bit more every day, not understanding what it meant or the impact the diagnosis would have on mine or my family’s life.

“When the doctor first said, ‘Amanda, we believe you have multiple sclerosis,’ I honestly didn’t know what it was. I thought he would prescribe some meds and my vision would return, and I would be fine. I had no idea that my life would change, that every day I woke up and could see, could walk, could speak would be a gift.

“One would think a chronic disease would have some physical signs of disease, some sign that would tell you something was wrong. When you look at me, you don’t see my illness, you don’t see pain or the daily struggles. Sometimes you may hear my words come out a little wrong, or notice me pausing to come up with the right word. You may see me clench my hand into a fist or shake it trying to get the pain to go away. You may even see me wobble a little as sometimes my balance is a little off. However, you probably wouldn’t look at me and think I am living with an illness that can take people’s lives from them.

“When we were looking at houses to buy, I kept in mind what could potentially happen down the road with this disease. I looked at how many stairs I would have to struggle to climb if my legs stop working.

“When they set up our bed, my thoughts went to what if its too high for me to get into by myself someday of if I wake up some morning and my legs can’t get me out of it? I hate when these thoughts creep in and take away from the joyful moments. So, I do my best to quickly remind myself that I don’t think in what ifs, I think of the present, where I am now, what things I continue to enjoy daily, what I have to be grateful for now, on this day.

“During the 10 years, I have felt naïve, depressed, hopeless and angry. I have asked why countless times. I have cried at thoughts of what I have had to give up, what that has meant for our family. I have never been one to pity myself for long however. I know there are people far worse off than me.

“It took a little time to readjust my thoughts. Instead of asking why me, now I look at what can I do with this challenge to help others with theirs? I became proactive with my health; found holistic approaches to my symptoms, and stopped letting the disease control and define me.

“Of course, there are still days when I feel angry or sad; days when the pain I try to hide shows through, days when I try to keep up with everyone else, but I can’t. There are days I look at where I wanted to be in my life and I am not there, and it hurts. But I accept that because I’m on the path that I need to be on now.

“I wake up every day with a grateful heart. I hug my children tightly, stand on my tippy toes to kiss my husband, fold the laundry, cook dinner, drive to the store, help children with math at my son’s school, laugh and love. Every single day I am thankful to be able to do these things I love doing.

“Ten years ago, I thought my life would change, and it did; but not in the horrible way I thought it would. It changed in a way that helped me grow, to learn more about empathy, about courage and strength, my strength. It taught me to have a grateful heart and love and appreciate those who mean the world to me, every single day!

“We all have a story, we have all experienced pain and hurt in our lives, we struggle, some of us daily. So be kind to one another, lift someone up and live and love in the moment.”

My grandson Jeff, former Shawano police officer and currently with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, commented: “I am so proud of my beautiful wife, Amanda. She is a loving mother and wife. We live in the present, and enjoy one another and the life we have together. Our love makes us strong.”

Question: Who owned The Office Shop/Pac & Go in 2001?

Clothesline Conversation Answer: The owner was John C. White.

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.