I remember the first MS function I attended in Atlanta, GA, there were only 3 men in a room of over 400 women. I was there with my wife, who was diagnosed in 1999, to learn more about this disease called MS that had crept into our lives from out of nowhere. There was the guest speaker and one male MS patient who made up the total men in the room. I learned a lot about the medicines that were available for MS patients, how better eating habits can be a big help in fighting this disease and how to do a better job managing stress in your life. Also about new medicines in the developing process and where to get funding to help with the cost. At one point in the evening the guest speaker allowed the women to tell their story about how MS had changed their lives. One by one, the women spoke about how the disease changed their lives with their spouse. They talked about how their husband stopped wanting to touch them and how the LOVE they had seemed to disappear as the MS got worse. Some spoke of how the lack of support from their spouse felt more devastating then the MS itself. One lady stood up and said if you took a jackhammer to that special part of her body she wouldn't feel a thing. Many talked about how they begin to walk different and their husbands showed signs of not wanting to be seen in public with them anymore. Later that night after we got home I told my wife that there was a moment at the MS meeting when I wanted to crawl under the table and hide as the women talked about how stupid we as men can act at a time when they need us the most. I remember meeting a man who sent his wife home to her mother and father, divorced her and
married someone else and then took her only child away from her. That night I got to see many stages of MS in that room and I made a commitment to my wife that as long as I live I would never be the kind of husband that was described in that room that night. This was our battle together and whatever we had to do, we were going to fight this as ONE like we promised GOD years ago, in sickness and health, for better or worse, until death do us part. I thank God for the MS Society Organization making meetings like this possible all over the country. It truly helped me be the kind of Caregiver, Husband and Father needed to get the job done.
Michael A. Whiteside