As I look back at my life, a lot of good and bad memories come to the surface. The one memory that stays with me twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, is that I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, known also as MS.

       This to me is a bad but also a good memory. It is a bad memory because I wonder what will become of me physically in the years to come.

       The good part is that I have my life, and I now look at it differently. I do not know how my MS will progress, so I now try to enjoy my life, to it's fullest.

       I do this by taking one day at a time, planning ahead and doing the activities I enjoy with my family. Multiple Sclerosis is a scary word that has a strong and powerful impact on my life.

       Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, sometimes progressive disease of the Central Nervous System (Brain and Spinal Cord) which most often affects young adult women age twenty to forty years of age.

       The term Multiple refers to scattered areas in the Brain and Spinal Cord. This is where inflammation and lesions called plaques occur.

       However, some lesions can not be repaired and Myelin, the fatty Brain tissue, is replaced by scar tissue, from which the term Sclerosis comes from.

       The body and with the aid of some drugs may be able to repair some damage by reversing inflammation and actually repairing damaged Myelin.

       Some people have only one attack of MS, others have many, and the course of the disease is highly unpredictable. There is no cure or possible real explanation of its cause.

       The explanation I give family and friends are that your nerves are like a cable wire that has insulation around it.

       When MS strikes it damages the insulation leaving, the cable wiring exposed to other illnesses. This causes MS cases to have nerve damage and severe paralysis.

       When I told my family and friends the devastating news that I was diagnosed with MS, I was shocked over the way they tried to coddle me.

       For example, I was helping my mother unload groceries one afternoon, and she stated, "No, Samantha, you shouldn't lift those bags."

       This comment was a blow to my self-esteem. I felt as though my mother was treating me like an invalid.

       Then a co-worker felt that I should no longer lift patients and that I should just sit and rest because I look too tired. I felt like screaming at my mother and the co-worker to "SHUT UP!"

       Instead I explained to them that I have been doing this job and other activities with no performance problems since my MS was diagnosed.

       Just because I was labeled with MS doesn't mean I should be treated any differently. I can still do the things I enjoy or do in everyday life, but now I just know my limitations.

       The hardest part of having a debilitating disease, is the way disabled people are treated as a whole. Society can be so cruel to people with any disability. There has always been discrimination and pity for the disabled.

       If you are disabled, society looks at you differently then others. You are not part of the normal society anymore; instead you are an outcast. Family and friends try to avoid you.

       They don't want to get close to you because they are afraid you will get worse and can't be part of their lives anymore.

       Everyone treated me as a regular person until I was diagnosed with MS. Now I am some fragile little creature.

       It is nice to know people care about the disabled but does anyone think that we want to be pitied or constantly asked how we are.

       I feel that family and friends are always watching over me to see if they notice a change with me physically. I feel like I am an experimental rat in a cage, and the people on the outside are watching my every action.

       This memory of being diagnosed with MS, is part of my being that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. There is nothing anyone can say or do to change my future with Multiple Sclerosis.

       I would just like to see family, friends, and society in general being able to open their eyes and quit discriminating against anyone with an illness.

       We are all people no matter what our physical appearances may be. Who made the rule that physical appearance or condition is the cause for any form of discrimination?

       For myself, I would like to be treated with a lot less sympathy, and a little more empathy.

Samantha Ward


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