One Man’s Experience with Relapsing MS By Donnie, Father, Husband, Project Leader, Former Athlete • May 10, 2018
I want to paint a picture for you. Imagine me, a healthy 30-year-old man living in small town Kentucky. I was married to the love of my life and together we had two beautiful girls ages 2 and 4 years old. We had just purchased a house about 2 miles from the in-laws. I was happily working at a growing pharmaceutical company and I even played on the company softball team in the summer. When I wasn’t busy with work and the family, I played golf every chance I had. My life was picture perfect! But that all changed when I was diagnosed with relapsing MS. I felt blindsided. Living with a chronic disease was not part of the plan. My future was now a big question mark.
After some research I quickly found out I was part of a special group, and that men with relapsing MS were in the minority. Did you know women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with relapsing MS as men? This begged the question: what‘s it like to be a man with MS? Well, sometimes it’s tougher to find tips and advice written specifically for men. And I’ve definitely met more women than men who are also living with relapsing MS, though both are faced with their own challenges.
Early on in my diagnosis I didn’t see a lot of changes in my life. I still did a lot of the things that I loved, including softball and golf, but eventually I started experiencing mobility issues and I had to give them up. Emotionally, this was tough. Athletics had been such a large part of my life and I had never imagined the day would come when I wouldn’t be able to participate. I found that I had let sports define me in a way. And if I defined myself this way, how would others see me now that I wasn’t playing sports? The feeling of inadequacy was overwhelming. It took some time to adjust.
Most people would say that cutting the grass is a pain in the butt. I, on the other hand, love doing any type of yard work! When I was a few years younger I was actually cutting grass on the side to make extra money. I had two daughters to support, plus it gave me a chance to get outside. At the height of my little enterprise, I was cutting about 8 yards per week, including my own. But heat intolerance and balance problems shut down the mowing business. A few years ago I even had to stop mowing my own yard, which was hard to accept. I hated the fact that I was going to have to pay someone to mow my yard, a task that was previously a breeze for me. But I grew to be okay with it because I knew it was the smart choice.
So here I am today, almost 18 years after my diagnosis. A lot has changed over those 18 years. My two beautiful little girls have grown into two beautiful young women. They have seen me struggle with my relapsing MS, but through my example, they have also learned how to be persistent and never quit. My wife is still the love of my life and I love her a little more each day. I still work at the same company and have held many different roles over the last 24 years. And even with my limited mobility, I’ve continued to be as active as my body permits.
Relapsing MS took away a lot of the things that I enjoyed. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t really hard sometimes. My wife and daughters have to do the things that I can’t do anymore. Maybe some people look at me differently because I use a cane and I don’t play golf or softball anymore. And I wish I still could do those things. But I know I’m going to be okay.
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but I think MS has made me a better man. It has made me more empathetic to others’ challenges. It has forced me to steel my resilience. And it has shown me that I’m stronger than I ever knew—and I don’t mean athletic strength. I am talking about the strength that comes from within.
If you are living with MS, I encourage you to tap into your own inner strength. I promise it’s there, even if you don’t know it and even in your darkest times. Failure is only allowed to prevail when we give up trying so it is important to remember that relapsing MS can try to take a lot from you but it can’t steal your spirit—whether you’re a man or a woman.
- CARE PARTNER
- LIVING WITH RELAPSING MS
Happily Ever After
By Donnie, Father, Husband, Project Leader, Former Athlete, October 12, 2017
I’m sure that a lot of people out there have interesting stories about how they met their significant other
My RMS Philosophy: Stay Positive and Don't Look Back!
By Donnie, Father, Husband, Project Leader, Former Athlete, August 16, 2017
When I was in high school, one of my football coaches left a quote in each player’s locker before the start of one of our games
Attend a live event or watch one online to learn more about LEMTRADA.
More From this Blogger
Meeting My Teammates —MS One to One®
December 15, 2016
LEMTRADA was approved on November 14, 2014, in the US. How do I know this date so well? Because I ha ...
Tackling My Relapsing MS Head-On
December 7, 2016
I remember when it happened—when relapsing MS showed up uninvited, but I processed the news, a ...
Perfection to Progression: My RMS Diagnosis
December 6, 2016
When it comes to my life, I’ve always been batting a thousand. Spending time with my family is ...