What My Husband's Battle With MS Has Taught Me About Courage

My husband has had multiple sclerosis (MS) since before we got married. But he’s always been such a positive person that even the diagnosis didn’t sway him. Here’s how that went:

Doctor: It looks like you have MS.

Husband: How long do I have to live?

Doctor: Oh no, this isn’t going to kill you! It just will cause some fatigue, some slowing down. It can eventually cause disabilities.

Husband: Oh, is that all? OK.

And he came home with a smile on his face, totally unfazed by the whole thing! I was the one who was worried and began researching MS and treatments and all that. He just went on like nothing happened.

In the beginning it really wasn’t too bad. We handled it and it was just part of our life. I gave him shots every week, and sometimes he needed to rest. He needed a cane, no big deal.

But it wasn’t too long before his disability got worse and he couldn’t work. Again, he kept his positive attitude and didn’t let it get him down. He kept a smile on his face and was cheerful. He faced the many difficult treatments, some of which had unpleasant side effects, with no complaints, knowing they were the best chance of fighting the progressing disease.

And now he is bed-bound, with tubes everywhere, has difficulty speaking and can barely move. But if you ask him how he is doing? He will say, “I’m fine.” Or, “I’m doing good.” And he will still have a smile on his face. The only time the smile goes away is when he’s been in the hospital. And even then he’s brave and doesn’t feel sorry for himself. Don’t get me wrong – it’s hard on him – but he hasn’t given up in any way.

Recently I developed a chronic pain condition called complex regional pain syndrome. It’s pretty hard to deal with the pain and the disability resulting from it. I’ve had to stop working. I’ve gotten pretty depressed. But I’ve been thinking about how my husband has handled his disability and realized that if he can handle the cards he was dealt with a smile, then I can try to do better myself at staying positive. I’m not him. And I can’t expect to be the same. But I can try a little harder to smile and look for the good things.

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Thinkstock photo via jacoblund.

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