Nick has taken over the blog today to write about MS from his perspective. I love this man more than my luggage and am grateful for him each and every day. And he’s a damn fine writer, too.
Jennifer accuses me of being naïve because I’m constantly looking to the future and thinking about how great things will be.
When I was 9 or 10, my family lived next to a briar patch in Hickory, N.C. It wasn’t directly next to our house – there were some woods in between that I would play in all the time. My next-door neighbor, Brad, was one of my best friends. We were playing tag football when he threw the football into the patch.
We were all sitting around deciding who would go get it when Brad’s mom called him back home. It was dusk and all my friends were walking off, so the decision became pretty simple.
The ball was probably 20 yards into the patch and I was wearing shorts. I walked through the patch, getting scratched on every open surface and the pain was substantial.
Yet the whole time I just kept thinking about what it would be like when I was out. I kept thinking about how Mom was making spaghetti for supper and how I’d be playing my Nintendo in no time.
The day that Jennifer and I stood in a cramped examination room in Baptist Hospital in North Little Rock, I couldn’t channel that inner kid. All I could hear were the words Multiple Sclerosis over and over again.
I was scared and doing my best to pretend that I wasn’t. I kept looking over at my best friend, my partner in crime, and wondering what it was that I was supposed to do. The doctor kept talking about how great it was that we caught it this early, but I just kept thinking, “What does this mean?”
Jennifer and I talked constantly about going to Europe for our 10th anniversary next year. Now, here we were spending our ninth in a hospital.
It’s ironic, but I’m always the stoic one. I’m the one who says things like, “It’s going to be all right,” or “We can get through this.” But on that day, it was Jennifer who looked at me and told me that we were going to be OK.
She joked about being the first one to be in a wheelchair – I’m diabetic and she always swore that she wouldn’t push me around in a wheelchair if I lost my feet. She picked out the red cane because the medical supply guy said it was faster.
She suffered through five days cooped up in a hospital bed regaining the use of her legs with a grace and humility that I know I don’t have.
I’m still learning about MS every day. But this disease has taught me something that I knew all along – MS can temporarily rob my wife of a lot of things, but her smile is completely off limits. And the future is still out there, waiting on the other side of this briar patch.