Monday, June 28, 2010

The Elephant in the Room While Making Raspberry Jam

Mollie writes:

I keep telling myself that I want to keep this blog real.  And part of keeping it real is writing about mothering with MS.  It's no breeze being a parent at any one time, be it colic, potty training, crazy teachers in your fourth grader's class, or just the unbearable snottiness of being 14.  But having a parent with a major medical issue is tough, and being a parent with a major medical issue is tough.  And having your parenting partner  down for the count weeks at a time is tough, too, just ask my husband.

My family and I started this phase of our lives when both boys were preschoolers.  I had a year where I simply couldn't stop injuring myself - I broke bones, dropped knives into my feet, you name it, I did it.  It was starting to get embarrassing when I went to the emergency room and the ER doctor told me I looked like a woman at war with her feet.  With a cast on one broken foot and stitches in the other, I limped out of the ER that day, relieved that he knew I wasn't being abused by my husband (who was in Chicago at the time).  It was frustrating, embarrassing and completely out of my control.

The phase passed and I didn't think twice about it for a few years,  But elementary school rolled around for the boys, and there was no way I could explain the inexplicable burden of fatigue I'd experience.  Followed by bouts of clumsiness and broken dishes and I would be ready to scream at the heavens, except things would clear up and I'd have years of clear sailing.

MS is incredibly easy to deny for long stretches of time.  Symptoms go into remission and a person could play tennis, take two preschoolers to Europe, finish a college degree, and do the solo parenting dance for weeks and no problems.  Then, bingo, things would flip over to Side B and life would just slide off the turntable.  There was simply no rationale behind it.

I'm trying to organize in my mind how to approach this subject in a way that is clear, honest, hopeful, real.   I will probably sort things into phases - meaning symptoms, medical response, diagnosis, and subsequent life with a degenerative disease AND teenagers.  But the mental process of organizing it and actually writing about it are two different things.

I don't want readers to think that I'm some sort of "super gimp."  I'd rather you see me as some sort of confused soul trying to make sense of her life while making raspberry jam.  So in the coming weeks I will occasionally write about how I figured out I was "Sick and Tired" rather than sick and tired.  If I can, I'll try to take you through diagnostic hell while starting an after school program, parenting on steroids, and the infinite bliss of juggling parenting AND working outside the home, and all whilst juggling The Stealth Disease.

Hopefully I'll be able to chuckle at some of my mistakes.  God knows I made 'em while trying to find domestic nirvana (nerve-anna?) in my corner of the world.


  1. I admit to being curious about this particular elephant. You would mention MS so casually, I figured I'd maybe not come to a post about it in particular yet. Still going through May's posts, by the way.

    God bless!

  2. Attention everyone: She really IS Super-Gimp. Grace under pressure is Mollie's most awesome super-power. I am pretty much in a perpetual state of bowing to her, this woman is so accomplished, beautiful and TOGETHER.

  3. Mollie, I relate to this on two levels: One, my dear husband's mother died from MS when he was a child, forcing him to grow up way too soon. Hers was a rare and aggressive type. It also caused him to be wonderfully nurturing, compassionate and self sufficient.
    Furthermore, that same dear husband is now disabled and battles his own elephant that is traumatic brain injury. That first paragraph hits home, and we began our days in the trenches when our oldest (now 11) was a baby. I hope that they will also grow to be compassionate, nurturing and self-sufficient. -Beth

  4. Oh my sweetie! Your children will have HUGE souls. There won't be an ounce of superficiality in them. I promise. The world, with all its problems, promise and compromise, will be theirs.


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