My sister, Angie, is my rock. With a five year age difference, we weren’t very close growing up. When I was diagnosed, I was a scared 21-year-old but she was a 16-year-old that showed maturity beyond her years. The day I was diagnosed, my parents didn’t know what to say to her, so they went with nothing.
I had to stay in the hospital for a few days for the steroid treatment, and no one wanted to tell her why. Later she revealed that she just heard aunts and uncles whispering, and assumed the worst. When she did visit me in the hospital and found out it was multiple sclerosis, she was relieved. Even though she didn’t know much about MS, she figured it was better than all of the horrible things she was imagining for those first few days.
When I was out of the hospital and staying with my parents for a few days, my sister and I talked more than we ever did before. We had both changed since I’d moved out of the house for a few years, so it was a good time to connect and become the friends we are today.
She noticed how uncomfortable I became when my parents would fuss over me. To me, I was the same person as I was before, just with a diagnosis. So she decided to make it her mission to make me laugh about what I was going through.
We had pamphlets about MS that my neurologist had given to me. My sister would read a possible symptom of MS aloud to me and then find a way to make fun of how I would be with that symptom. I was experiencing
numbness in my limbs, so she got these outrageously high, uncomfortable stilettos out and said that since I couldn’t feel how painful they would be I should wear fabulous shoes. She pointed out not being able to sleep wasn’t a curse, but a wonderful opportunity to get as much studying done as possible. She then flippantly stated, “Hey you have a leg up on your competition at school; this MS is going to make you smart.” As far as forgetfulness she said I could get out of things my parents wanted me to do and blame it on the MS.
One day, months later, I was eating dinner at my parents. My mom wanted me to stop on my way to her house to pick up a specific candle from a specialty store that was located in my neighborhood. I was running late and decided to forgo picking up her candle. During dinner, my mom asked me if I got her candle. I didn’t want to admit that I slept in and was running late, so I hesitated and looked at my sister. Angie in a very serious voice said, “Damn MS…makes her forget everything.” I was so shocked I couldn’t even laugh at first, but once I started laughing, I couldn’t stop. Despite cursing being a big “no-no” in my family, that soon became a catchphrase.
I learned from my sister that it’s okay to laugh about my MS. I just need to find the best part of everyday and if I’m having a hard time with that, I think back to dinner that day and it always makes me smile.