For Better or For Worse

In SICKNESS and in HEALTH… 

The words SO many of us have said but hope the last parts never come to fruition. We hope we will never have to muddle our way through the ‘for worse‘ or the ‘in sickness‘parts. We hope we will be able to skip right over all that while we live happily ever after in fairytale bliss. 

But unfortunately for many of us, we are suddenly knocked out of this fairytale and awoken from the BEST dream EVER, as we are slapped in the face with something TOTALLY  unexpected…

Something we never thought we would ever have to deal with as we looked into our significant other’s eyes and said “I Do.” Not US we thought to ourselves… It will NEVER happen to US… 

BUT THEN IT DOES.

And from that moment on, Life as we know it quickly vanishes into thin air… Never to be seen or heard from again. From that moment on, your NEW Life as a battling Duo begins. 

Heres OUR story of ‘For Better or For Worse…’

What were the chances that this small town Grimsby girl would meet, fall in love with, and marry a Tennis Pro all the way from Oaxaca, Mexico?

Although I haven’t actually calculated this, I’m willing to bet the odds are a lot slimmer than being diagnosed with MS…but as we all know, anything can happen! 

It all started in August 2010, only 5 months after my diagnosis. My parents actually knew him before I did, through taking tennis lessons at our local club. It was only after my Dad suggested I take lessons myself, that this whole love story began to unfold. Just two lessons and a new racquet later…this story was off to the races faster than either of us expected. 

We new almost instantly​. We had both been in long term relationships before and when we met each other we simply knew….We KNEW life without each other was likely not in our cards. We only dated for 4 months before we confirmed this suspicion with an engagement, and then got to spend a whole year and half anticipating the life we THOUGHT we would have. 

I never kept it a secret…on just our third date I told my now husband (Joel), that I had recently been diagnosed with MS. 

A couple days ago I decided to ask him a few questions regarding what it’s like being a spouse to an MS warrior. I wanted to ensure I got HIS words and not MINE when trying to capture what life’s like from his side of the battle. 

The first question I asked was “What did you think when I FIRST told you I had MS?” to which he responded in the usual candid fashion he always displays…

“I didn’t think anything of it because you didn’t have any symptoms. You looked normal to me.”

We both read about the disease and understood to some degree the prognosis…but my husband said it best, “you LOOKED normal to me.” And I did…

I never even acted like I had just been diagnosed with one of the most debilitating​ chronic illnesses to ever exist…Because even AFTER my diagnosis, I never wanted to believe that I would be the one to end up in a wheelchair before the age of 30. 

I don’t think many of us want to believe any of the worst case scenarios we may face in life. Most of us want to remain optimistic about our future. That is until we are no longer able to hide from the new reality we MUST start living. 

After 5 years of marriage, Joel has been by my side for nearly my entire MS Journey. He has been with me since the days of mere tingling in my arms, right up until the rough patch I’m going through now.

He was with me during the days I lost the majority of function in my right arm, and still with me now as I struggle just to make it to our driveway.

He’s seen it all…and when asked what he thinks is my most debilitating symptom, he referenced an invisible one. “The nerve pain you have every day. It’s something you don’t see and it’s impossible for me to feel but I can see how much it’s killing you.” 

I can’t help but agree…don’t get me wrong, barely being able to walk while being burdened by overwhelming fatigue are certainly FAR from welcomed symptoms… But you can still learn to live a somewhat independent life by making modifications to the way you live. However living with chronic debilitating pain NEVER gets easier. It is emotionally and physically draining in every single way. It is the silent symptom that makes you want to SCREAM at the top of your lungs. 😱

But it doesn’t matter what new symptom evolves or what new attack erupts, my husband is the epitomy of ‘devoted’ and goes above and beyond his call of duty as both a husband and father every single day.  

We both agree that it’s hard only having one person who’s able to take on the brunt of the household chores, but he never complains. He is one of the most hardworking and driven people I know, and when asked if he had any advice for others facing a tough road ahead, he replied “Be the person you would like to have if you were in the same situation.”

Well, Joel, in case I haven’t told you enough… you are MORE than the person I could have ever hoped for. You are supportive, patient, kind, loving, understanding, hard-working, driven, selfless, and the list goes on…

I realize that because of my limitations, life is far from the one you envisioned as a husband and a father way before you knew I was the person who would become your wife. And even once you knew I was the one, we both still envisioned an active life. One full of tennis, soccer, walks, day trips with our son, camping, weekends at the beach, traveling and simply living free of the burden that is MS.

We have tried our very best to keep living a life full of positivity while battling this BEAST we both face. It is impossible to have the life we once pictured… Not only because of my physical limitations, but also because so much time is consumed with doctors appointments, research, trying new treatments, clinical trials and so much more. 

But despite ALL this adversity, we are still here and we are still fighting this thing together. We are making the most of the situation we have and I’m so proud of us. We may not be able to do a lot of the things we once thought we would do, but we are always trying to find new things to explore together.

June 9th marks our 5th year wedding anniversary. Wow!! 💍🍾

Throughout this time we have endured more than we ever thought was possible…but through all of this battling and hurdle jumping, I truly believe we’ve become stronger than EVER before. 

Sure there are the moments we both explode in frustration, but those moments are only short-lived because we then remember we are both fighting the same war. 

Thank you for doing everything I’m not able to do and for making my life easier on a daily basis.

Thank you for understanding how difficult it is for me just to get up and get a coffee.

Thank you for understanding how challenging it is for me JUST to grab the remote off one couch and walk to the other.

Thank you for understanding how cooking a meal takes EVERY last ounce of my energy and therefore never expecting food on the table when you come home, but being incredibly grateful for the times when there is. 

Thank you for getting Landon up every morning and getting him ready for bed every night. 

Thank you for not only providing for us financially, but also taking care of the laundry, the cleaning, and for taking me to swimming once a week because you know it’s literally the only active sport I can do. 

Thank you for coming home from work every day as quickly as you can because you know how hard it is for me to take care of Landon right now….

Thank you for realizing I will always do EVERYTHING I can to push through when Landon needs or asks for something, yet recognizing that even though I do it, it comes with more difficulty and pain than words could ever describe.

Thank you for appreciating when the only thing I’ve been able to accomplish all day is folding one load of laundry.

Thank you for all the times you have carried me to and from the car because you understand how taxing it is for me to walk those mere 10 feet.

And most importantly, thank you for still seeing ME as ME despite all the changes I have endured, and loving me unconditionally despite all the challenges my illness has brought into our lives.

Thank you for all of this!  For all of the little things you recognize and do for us. I could not be more proud of the husband you are to me, and the father you are to Landon

If there is a silver lining in all of this, it’s that we have proven why the the words for ‘Better or For Worse, in Sickness and in Health’ are part of a wedding ceremony. They aren’t just there because they sound good…They are there as a constant reminder that when life gets tough, we as a couple must get tougher, become reslient, and remain united.

I strongly believe that I will get better one day, and life will become easier for both of us…but that will only happen in time. Whether it’s sooner or later we must keep doing what we’re doing, and most importantly, maybe the hardest part of all…we MUST remain patient. 

And as the old saying goes…

 ‘Patience is a Virtue!’ XOXO ♥️

#ourlovestory #forbetterorforworse #thebestisyettocome #united #strong #reslient #marriage #happy5years #love #MSawareness #journey #fightingthefight #burnfireburn.

The Mother I’ve Become

Let’s just cut right to the chase…being a mother is HARD! No matter who you are, what you’re facing, where you’ve come from, where you’re headed, what you’ve overcome or what you’re still battling, being a mother is down right difficult.

Yes it is rewarding, but it is by far one of the most challenging journeys that life has to offer. We like to relate to other mothers by knowing that everything we are going through and all the obstacles we face, are shared by millions of other mothers who are going through the ‘same’ thing.. But although the one common thread about being a mother is raising a child…my personal belief is that all these other things we encounter while doing so are merely similar, and MAYBE not so much the same at all…

From the baby who won’t sleep, to the one who won’t stop crying, to the high pitch teething screams, to the formula fed baby or the baby still being nursed. To the toddlers who only say no, to the ones who babble all day… From the children who are being bullied to the ones bullying others…And from the teenager struggling in school, to the one who questions every single house rule…

ALL of what we may or may not face while navigating our way through motherhood is only similar, because no two mothers OR two children are the same. 

We all relate in similar ways to other mothers going through various stages of parenthood. From the sleepless nights to the potty training days, to the stubborn teenage years and everything inbetween…OF COURSE all these stages are very relatable from one mother to another.

But what remains very VERY different, is the personal story each of us hold… That is EVERYTHING we must battle, overcome or modify in order to accomplish any one of the ‘motherly’ tasks with which we are faced. 

For the longest time… WAY before I was a mother or even before I was married for that matter, I had the ‘perfect’ vision in my mind of being the ‘perfect’ mother to the ‘perfect’ child and doing everything in ways that every other mother does.

I had envisioned the sleepless nights, the nursing, the teething stages, even the days I would keep my baby attached to me in one of those carriers just to get something done. 

I had envisioned picking him/her up and carrying them on my hip. I had Envisioned long walks during the nicest days, and frantically running to the car while getting caught in the rain. I had envisioned going everywhere and anywhere I wanted with him/her and carrying multiple bags plus a car seat all at once…

I had envisioned teaching my son or daughter how to play every sport I knew, taking them to the park, to play dates, to the mall, and to the doctor all on my OWN, and doing everything else a ‘normal’ mother would do. 

That WAS my vision…but of course that was all before MS.

As I discussed in a couple posts back, my vision of being a mother changed drastically not only after my diagnosis, but after living this life with a long list of debilitating symptoms in tow… Symptoms that included overwhelming physical fatigue combined with severe nerve pain and the inability to walk more than a couple of steps… And when walking those steps only having one hand free because the other one is gripping on for dear life to whatever is beside me.

But it wasn’t until AFTER Landon was born that I was forced to face the fact that I WASN’T going to be the mother I had envisioned all those years before. 

Nothing was ever going to stop me from being the best mother I could be, as I always knew I would give it all I had. 

BUT,  it has taken a long LONG time to mentally get to the point where I’m at now…that is accepting the fact that I am the mother I’ve BECOME and not the mother I THOUGHT​ I’d be.

I’m not the mother who can get there in time for the majority of falls he takes. I’m not the mother who could EVER afford to worry about the things that dropped on the floor and then went directly into his mouth. I AM the mother who has bribed my child with candy just to make him cooperate during my breaking point and deepest desperation…

I have NEVER been the mother who nursed, or the one who got up in the middle of the night to get my baby a bottle…Luckily, my husband took on that challenge full force! (He is actually the true warrior in all of this as he is the one who takes care of EVERYTHING​ I can’t do. He is a true example of a devoted father and husband who I’m thankful for in every single way…♥️)

I have NEVER been the mother to go on long walks, to take him to the park, carry him on my hip or carry multiple bags and a car seat all at once… I have NEVER been able to play with him in our front yard, driveway, splash pad, or any other open space… I haven’t even tried this for the fear of him escaping and me not being able to protect him from busy streets or any other danger.

BUT then there are the things I HAVE done and continue to do, but at a much more modified pace and totally different style.

I remember the times I took him to the mall, took him to the doctor and even gave him baths all on my own! I even remember the one time I took him to Swiss Chalet for a mother-son lunch date…😘

 I DID go for walks, but they consisted of only to the stop sign and back, and on REALLY good days maybe a street further.

But NEVER have I EVER gone anywhere or done any of these things without immense fatigue, pain, and difficulty to the point that I was gripping the stroller with every ounce of energy I had left JUST to stay upright.

But regardless of the way I’ve done things, how much or how little I’ve done things, or at what modified pace… I’ve done them! and for that I am so incredibly proud. 

My BIGGEST hope for Landon is to one day see all the things in this life he can accomplish through problem solving, thinking outside the box, getting creative, and pushing himself slightly or a LOT out of his comfort zone. 

With Landon now being a toddler, I could not be more proud of the person he’s becoming. 

Because of everything I can’t do, he has been forced to help me in ways he may never even realize. He has become sensitive to my pain, intuitive about my limitations, and always always ALWAYS there to give me a kiss during one of my biggest meltdowns. 

I am FAR from the ‘normal’ mother I thought I’d be. But then again what’s normal? No mother has it easy and we are all fighting battles of some sort and to some degree of severity…

We post pictures of ourselves and our families in the perfect setting with the perfect smiles and the perfect tagline…but beyond the ficade there is almost ALWAYS a story of which only we and our best supporters know. A story that pushes us out of our momentary bliss and back into the reality we face every single day.

If there is one thing about MS which I have become thankful for, it’s the down right resilience it has instilled in me as a person and a mother. I will NOT quit because quitting is simply not an option.

No matter how hard it may get, Landon will ALWAYS be my personal cheerleader and everlasting motivation as he chants ‘GO Mommy GO!”

#themotherivebecome #thebestmothericanbe #resilence #neverquit #fightthefight #mamawithMS #personaljourney #burnfireburn