Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Today I received an unexpected call from my dear friend Michelle. I have known her for several years as we work in the same office. Over time we have become good friends and I so adore her. Last year she was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive case of MS at the age of 25. Her husband also works in our office and is a cherished friend. They really are great people and have been through quite an ordeal together.

Yesterday Michelle started chemotherapy. It is the last option that her neurologist has given them given the frequency and intensity of her attacks. They have already exhausted all other known approved measures available here in the US and they have also incorporated homeopathic alternatives as well. Unfortunately none of it has been enough to kick her into remission. I admire their decision to take action and move forward controlling what lies within their control. I know that that was not an easy decision for them and one they had hoped to avoid.

She's been in a wheel chair and has lost her vision. Between attacks some of her functionality/vision have returned. Today she did say that she is able to read and this is a very bright spot in her life as she is passionate about reading. She and Mike have 5 children between them; one of which lives in Pennsylvania and 4 that our here. They have two toddlers at home (both age 2) and one child in Elementary and another in Middle School. I stopped by to see them after work yesterday to take a card that the office had signed to let her know that we were thinking of her. I cannot imagine the struggles they face day to day.

It is hard for me to see her as she has changed so dramatically but I never want to miss an opportunity for selfish reasons. I also made sure I didn't cry this time. It really is an extremely helpless feeling to stand in the periphery and watch. There's no way to anticipate their needs and I never want to be intrusive. I have set up an account for our fellow co-workers to donate to assist them and I've arranged various groups on occasion to help at their place with cleaning and also to make accommodations for her after she was last hospitalized. The dinners and food provided seem fairly insignificant when you put it all into perspective so again I just stand helpless and feel small.

She has fallen many times and is unable to be alone at this point. Her husband is her loving care giver and attends to all of her needs without complaint. He bathes her, feeds her and carries her when necessary. Not only is he the care giver but the Father, cook, maid, chauffeur and full time employee. I worry tremendously about his health and stress levels as well. They are not affiliated with any church and do not have much family in the area for assistance. They do really well despite all of these challenges.

Tomorrow I am working remote from their home as to remain with her while he goes to the office. Again, this seems so small. I am happy to help and often go remote anyway so the company will be appreciated on my part and I feel like it's the least I can do. It really is heart breaking to see her rapidly decline, start to recover and then be knocked down again. Amazingly she maintains a positive attitude and outlook. She is a determined and driven individual with a heart of gold. She is truly and example and constant reminder that I can handle my own life and struggles because again they are small.

Another co-worker is assisting to arrange a team for the MS Bike Ride (with Michelle's blessing) as he participates each year given that his Mother had MS. She has since passed on but he remains dedicated and full of hope with tremendous insight into coping with this debilitating disease. I also spoke to our Office Manager today about an Oracle volunteer event to participate in the MS Walk for the sake of showing communal support and contributing for the purpose of on going research. Again, it all seems so small in their big picture. Michelle is open to it and i hope it provides some level of emotional support.

Chronic illness adds so much perspective even as one indirectly affected by this. There have been times when she has called me last in the evening and has been elated that she was able to get her husband a salad from the kitchen. There have been times when she has called and been ecstatic that she could put laundry away. There have been times when she has called to simply ask how I was doing and offer sincere gratitude. It is extremely humbling on so many levels and again leaves you feeling helpless and just wanting to make everything better.

I have to remind myself that we came to this earth to learn. I have to remind myself that everything happens for a reason. I have to remind myself that there are opportunities and blessing in every circumstance. I have to remind myself that trials make us stronger and help us to become more like He would have us be. I have to remind myself that this life is only part of the plan. I have to remind myself that there is much hereafter. Knowing all of this doesn't lessen the ache inside.

On the B Side: I am grateful that there is a plan, that we are here for a special purpose and that we are blessed for the challenges and trials that we endure. I doubt that I comprehend the true significance of it all or how a loving Father in Heaven must feel watching us all stumble through this life doing the best we can. I am also really grateful for the way in which Michelle and Mike have touched my life and enabled me to look outside of myself.

1 shout outs:

Shellie said...

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit...
Success is failure turned inside out.
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems to far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit.
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit!