Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Many Scars

On Saturday I was blessed to receive a glass engraved plaque from the NMSS--National Multiple Sclerosis Society--for being in the top 100 fund raisers. I placed # 38, respectively. And today I received two free one day passes to the Disneyland Resort from them.

I know--and fully acknowledge--that I couldn't have possibly received this beautiful acknowledgment of my time and dedication to this worthy cause if it wasn't for the empathy and giving hearts of those who donated these past two years to the southern California Inland Empire's MS Walk, and specifically, to my MS Walk page/campaign.

It is these people who truly have poetic souls and see beyond the needs of themselves.

I feel truly honored and blessed to be a part of this.

Multiple Sclerosis literally translates to mean "Many Scars"--that's just one of the numerous things I have learned since my enlightenment and indoctrination into this venture.

The following is the story of how I became involved in the MS cause--and why I will remain involved:

In October of 2007, MS changed my world…..but back to that in a minute.

The following spring, I would lose my job and my home. Had I been the one who was diagnosed with MS, I might have a reason to give you other than “this darned economy!” However, I wasn’t diagnosed with MS—and neither was my husband. But in October of 2007, I met someone who was.

While there isn’t any obvious correlation between foreclosure and MS, in my small world there was--and both rocked my foundation to its core.

In 2007, I was working in an Assisted Living Community—and with Autumn came a new resident. He was only 51…and he had MS.

I think what struck me the most was that in working with the elderly, I was used to seeing the natural progression of aging and the daily effect it had on those living with it. However, I immediately recognized in our new resident that there was nothing natural about MS and how he came to live there at such a young age.

Diagnosed in 1989 (pre-information era) at the age of 33, this newly engaged man and Hospital Administrator—who chose to forge on with his life--had much to lose. And he did. Slowly, and seemingly methodically over the years, MS eventually took away use of his legs, his marriage, his career and his home. What MS couldn’t do is rob him of his will to keep living well, learning, networking and smiling.

I was fascinated.

What on earth does he have to smile about, I wondered, having had to move into Assisted Living?

But as I watched, listened, grew and learned--he moved there to not only have access to 24 hour care, but to be able to now live his life with dignity. He once said to me; “There was nothing dignified about me lying on the floor and not being able to pick myself up.”

I got it. Curious how smiling is contagious.

We became fast friends and he got me not only interested in the MS cause, but pro-active in it as well. I signed up for the MS Walk in his honor and joined our local Walk committee where along with other committee members, we brainstormed fund raising ideas and how to make the most of the “Walk season”.

From there I was invited to work at a camp for a week where people with MS can enjoy swimming, movies, games, talent shows, crafts (I mean very cool crafts like tie-dyeing T-shirts! Groovy.) and workshops.

I completed my second annual Walk season in April of this year and in May I attended my second annual camp for those afflicted with MS as a caregiver.

I start fund raising for the MS Walk '10 in the late fall/early winter. This will be my third annual Walk season.

Strange as it sounds, I thank God for MS if only for one very selfish reason; that even in the shame of foreclosure—and the financial hardship and nightmare that has ensued for myself and my family following it--at least I don’t have MS.

Whatever else has happened to me, I don’t have MS.

In it’s place I have perspective.

So, from my friend I am learning that it’s never too late to try and live with dignity—and to learn how to smile.

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