What About Me? - by Rick Szczepanski

Living with Multiple Sclerosis

I was a year old when my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. While growing up I realized what a generous, courageous and loving person my mom was, always putting her family first despite her pain and suffering.

In 1990, my wife also named Mary was diagnosed with the same disease. Mary and I took one day at a time but in 1995 she rolled up in a ball and died. She wanted to be left alone, initiated no affection of hugs, kisses holding hands, etc. and just did not want to talk about any problems we had so I gave up and took my life to other people as my energy source.

Her attitude went to abuse in criticizing me in front of family and friends, not showing any support when I was laid off from my job and irritable everyday. It was her attitude not the MS that destroyed her. Attitude is everything.

I drew my energy off of every positive person I met and kept in touch with them. My life was not covered up by these people but entertained, blessed and able to live my life as it was meant to be. My friend with MS and I talked about everything personal and intimate. She was supportive, honest and a dear friend to this day.

My mom passed away in 1995 at the age of 75 from complications of MS. In 1997, I decided to create a scholarship program to remember my mom’s “Never Give Up” attitude and get the word out on the high school and college campuses where MS was not talked about. We now are established at three area high schools, Grand Valley State University and this program will be offered to all Michigan high schools in 2006.

I talked honestly about the connection of MS and depression, MS and alcohol addiction and the real life stories I had for the last fifty years of experience. There is ignorance with doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists that MS, alcohol, abuse and depression affect others in the relationship. They must tow the line with their patients.

Being in a relationship with Multiple Sclerosis can be rewarding, fulfilling or completely empty. Starting with the person who does not have this disease, he or she must be able to keep their identity, enjoy the things he or she loves in life, take care of their needs emotionally and physically and just enjoy life.

I decided to take care of myself first. Always being in contact with friends, family and so many who supported me.

The person with MS must do the same and then the two can give and take in a loving relationship. He or she must take on an attitude of positive energy or they will be swallowed up in pity, low self-esteem and very little coping and communication skills.
Both must express emotions, hugs, kisses, support each other, share intimacy and most importantly, talk. Failure is bound to happen if these needs are not met.

The partner must express his feelings openly to others with hand- shakes, hugs and meeting with friends to keep in touch with others. One thing so many cannot talk about is the needs as a partner he or she must take care of their sexual needs. Starting with infancy we all need hugging, kissing, bonding and support.

If you would like to know more about the scholarship set up by Rick please visit www.msscholarship.org or Click Here

If you’d like to discuss any of these issues with Rick, you can contact him via:

guide4living@gmail.com

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