When my husband Raymond and I got married in 2011, we were just like every other couple: Caught up in the joy of our fairy tale wedding day, excited to embark on our God destined lifetime together, and ready to take on the world hand in hand! We had planned for everything…we had jobs, a 5 year plan, and even a little money stashed away for a rainy day! What we didn’t plan for was Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
I still remember the day I realized that something wasn’t quite right. We were 3 years into our marriage by this point, and settling into comfortable domesticity. We were happy, carefree, and had just gone under contract to build our dream home. We were out shopping for groceries one Sunday when I saw Raymond walking with his right foot turned out in an unusual horizontal position. I’m the joking type, so I called him out on how he was walking and told him to stop goofing off. He was able to walk normally once he started paying attention to it, so we thought nothing else about it for a while. But then it happened again. And again. And Raymond was tired all of the time. And often, he would say completely nonsensical things, or forget his thoughts in the middle of a sentence. I remember speaking with my mother and Raymond’s grandfather at this point, and they both mentioned that they had noticed a few odd things about Raymond’s gait and dexterity, but didn’t think anything further about it. Raymond decided to get a full physical, just to make sure he was okay.
Getting The News
The look on the doctor’s face is one of those looks that I’ll never forget. Raymond had undergone a battery of neurological tests, and the doctor informed us that Raymond had a couple of issues that he suspected were the result of a brain tumor, or Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Of course, after dropping that bombshell the doctor left the room, leaving Raymond and I to digest the news. I immediately started praying that if it had to be either a brain tumor or MS, we’d rather face MS. (I didn’t know too much about it at the time). After all, a brain tumor could mean cancer, death…all of those scary things that MS didn’t seem to involve. Raymond felt that the whole thing was a fluke. In his mind, all of his symptoms could be explained. When he developed issues with his vision, he had gone to the eye doctor and gotten glasses. Problem solved, right? The tiredness was just attributed to his working long hours. But as a wife, I had the intuition that something was wrong, and that our lives were about to change.
The doctor came back into the room to let us know he was making a referral to a Neurologist. The next few days flew past like a whirlwind, and after more testing, spinal taps, and an MRI, it was confirmed: Raymond had Multiple Sclerosis.
Raymond had his first big flare up shortly after being diagnosed, and ended up in the hospital, unable to move his legs for about a week. Raymond had what appeared to be an aggressive form of MS that would attack and leave lots of new brain lesions in its wake. The doctor began encouraging Raymond to file for disability, as his body could no longer sustain him through 8 hour standing shifts. Raymond didn’t want to hear that. We were under contract for a new home, and we both knew that it takes months to years to get approved for disability. He didn’t want to leave me to shoulder the financial responsibilities alone. I remember grabbing his hand and saying “in sickness and in health. Through richer and poorer.” I knew that although things seemed bleak, God would never fail us! Raymond had to end up leaving his job and we filed for disability. It was a lengthy process: Raymond had to get an attorney, and appeal two times over a two year period to get approved.
Through God’s blessings and grace, we were able to get our home and move in. I never truly understood the meaning of Philippians 4:19 until our Multiple Sclerosis journey, but God certainly did provide! We decided to have a child, and in 2016, two years after his diagnosis, our baby girl was born. Bella turned out to be the breath of fresh air we all needed! While Raymond used to resent being home, unable to work, he was now able to pour everything into being a stay at home father. My mother moved in, to assist with carrying Bella up and down the stairs, but Raymond was able to handle everything else. Multiple Sclerosis, which had taken so much from him, had given him the opportunity to have the sweetest, most special bond with our baby girl!
The Future Looks Bright
It’s been 5 years since his diagnosis, and Raymond still deals with a host of symptoms: Double and blurred vision, gait disorder, Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA), and permanent damage to his corpus callosum, caused by lesions. He will have to have infusions of medicine every month until they find a cure for this disease. Yet, we are thankful that Raymond can still walk and still enjoy being a husband and father, when so many others with MS can no longer do so. Raymond does not take this for granted, and he makes it his mission to support MS awareness through fundraisers, and speaking at support groups.
Currently, there are nearly 1 million people living with Multiple Sclerosis. MS affects everyone from Hollywood stars, to athletes, to people that you see everyday on the job. While a cure has yet to be discovered, researchers continue to utilize the financial support received from donors all over the world to research cutting edge treatments and medical breakthroughs. With each day, we grow closer and closer to eradicating this debilitating disease!
How You Can Help
I’m encouraging everyone to join us in the fight against this debilitating disease that affects so many people around the world. Here are some easy ways to get involved:
- Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest! It’s a quick and simple way to increase awareness.
- Share your personal story in the comments below, or if you’re a blogger, drop the link to your post about MS in the comments.
- Get involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to stay abreast of the latest news and research, find out dates for seminars and walks, and make contributions!
- Participate in Walks and Fundraisers!
Thank you for your part in helping to fight for a cure for MS! Together, we can move mountains!
See you next time!