Friday, June 10, 2005

A father copes with multiple sclerosis

From the Guardian:
Just as my 12-month-old daughter is learning to take her first wobbly steps, I fear I am taking some of my last. As I watch her faltering progress across the kitchen floor, I know just how she feels. Like a toddler, I too need to hold on to the furniture and walls for support, and invariably I stumble and fall before I reach my objective.

Unlike her, I don't bounce quite so easily...

My eldest is beginning to suspect I am not quite like other dads. Information is on a need to know basis, and we have decided they will not really need to know details for some years yet. Daddy keeps them entertained by falling over and spilling things. If I don't hurt myself, it's not a big deal. The trick is to make it all matter of fact.

But that does not stop the questions. "Why are you wobbly? Why do you use a stick and wheelchair?" I explain my legs don't work sometimes as well as they should. And then it's swiftly on to the next thing.

Naturally, I want to protect my children and shield them from my MS. But I can't hide or cure the disease and we were never going to grant MS the status of becoming a big family secret. By not talking about something, you empower it and it becomes more threatening precisely because it is hushed up. The children would be vulnerable.

Their unspoken fears might include my premature death from MS or indeed their own deaths. MS is a very inclusive condition. Everyone in the family is affected...

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