Marriage, Ministry and MS

Chrysty and I are 36 years old, have five kids and have been married almost 19 years. Our lives are amazing really. We are big time in love with one another and with life. We’re happy with kids, ministry and really everything we do. My hard-wiring is such that I’m an eternal optimist, looking for solutions and planning for change. Chrysty is by nature a relational cheerleader and super positive.

With the topic I’m tackling here, I just wanted to make sure readers understand who we actually are. This series of articles I’m writing describes a major area of pain for us but this pain doesn’t control our lives. Basically what we do is open the “MS box” periodically and speak frankly about the future, the present and how this all affects us. We’ll talk, cry, get angry, express whatever emotions we happen to experience, then we wrap the box back up and put it on the shelf and live our lives.

I get frequent questions about Chrysty’s health, particularly when I ask for prayer for her. Here’s a brief explanation of the journey we’ve been on for several years.

For 12-18 months prior to her official diagnosis Chrysty had periodic reoccurring symptoms. Initially they stayed only a day or two. Most symptoms were connected to dizziness, extreme numbness and balance. There were many possible explanations. It was just too difficult to narrow down the cause initially and then the symptoms would leave.

One October she had a two week episode with blurred and doubled vision and numbness in hands and feet. This lasted a couple of weeks. The next March, the same issues returned but stayed for a month. Each time, she would fully recover as far as we knew.

On July 4th, the same year, our family worked all day at a rental property. It was over 100 degrees and the seven of us worked outside all day. The next morning, she could barely move. Her vision problems were back. Her hearing seemed to be affected some. She couldn’t write her name. She couldn’t lift a spoon. She couldn’t make it to the bathroom without help. It was time to get an official diagnosis.

Six weeks passed before we could get in to see the he most highly recommended neurologist in our region. Her symptoms were slowly improving but still very present. He confirmed that Chrysty had MS (multiple sclerosis).

The doctor, no doubt a brilliant man, spent probably 20 total minutes with us. He looked over the MRI sheets we brought in and wrote out a prescription.

His prognosis? There’s no cure, only some treatments that have some success for some people. Since it seemed to progress rapidly with her, probably she’d be in a wheelchair in 10-15 years. If she took the prescribed medication she might be able to stretch it to 15-20 years and only have to have her liver and kidneys checked every couple of months.

We’d been looking all over the internet for medical, natural or non-Western medicine solutions, so I asked the doctor “Is it possible there are alternative treatments or any experimental medications that might help?”

He said, “It’s possible yoga or exercises could help her keep strength up” (losing strength is a huge part of the symptoms). I asked further, “Is it possible there are other treatments in other countries that might help?” Then his response was plainly and flatly, “I’m telling you the only thing that will ever help is what I’m prescribing right now. There won’t be anything else.”

His statements fueled a journey. First briefly mourning as we cried in the car together. Then the decision not to return (after all, how could he “know” there are no other options out there?) Then we started pursuing alternative forms of treatment.

Here’s what we needed at the time, 1) hope, 2) to feel like we were doing “something”. So we made a plan and starting taking steps.

“O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry.” Psalm 88:1-2

More to come…

Anyone experienced any similar situations?