Hi, my name is Rick…Well, kind of…It’s the nickname I chose when I was a young adult. Being called Richard just didn’t feel right. I have made several attempts at writing this introduction and always end up with, what seemed like, a book. In the process of these attempts, I have learned things about myself that had not really come to the forefront before. Realizing I didn’t need to write my autobiography, I tried repeatedly to abbreviate it and deliver the pertinent information to the reader. With each attempt, I learned even more bout myself, yet still pondered…”Did I focus too much on getting through life before MS happened?” “Was my aim slightly off target?” “Did I forget to smell the roses?” Perhaps all of these questions are correct, but at least I have been given a fork in the road of life’s journey which provides a time of reflection and correction. I shall begin again…
Hi! My name is Rick and I am the luckiest guy in the world!! In 1978 I was a very busy, young Engineer working on a Research and Development project to produce the world's FIRST Whole Body CT Scanner (CAT scanner). It was also in 1978 I had my first bout of optic neuritis. Being a U.S. Marine after attending college (Vietnam Era), I had the attitude of never being defeated. After taking Prednisone and a few days off from work to recover, I returned to my passion. (Yes, I was passionate about my work.)
There were five to ten years between bouts of optic neuritis. With each bout, I took Prednisone and a few days off from work then went on my merry way. There was no mention of MS from the physicians. Each bout of optic neuritis seemed to be a little less severe than the one before so I ignored them and made little mention of it. The times of extreme fatigue, heat intolerance, insomnia, bouts of depression and the inability to walk very far I attributed to the aging process.
In May, 2009, while on vacation, the optic neuritis returned. I went to the Optometrist and he recommended I see an Ophthalmologist. The Ophthalmologist ordered an MRI. With "Dawson's Fingers" being seen on the MRI, I was then referred to a Neurologist. With the MRI results and research on the computer, I pretty well knew what I was facing before the battery of tests and Lumbar Puncture. Like everyone else here, acceptance was delayed as I struggled to hammer the data into anything not resembling the symptoms of MS, but to no avail. On June 15th, 2009 the diagnosis was made formal and my life changed forever. It was up to me to decide in which direction it would proceed.
No longer could I work because MS was an immediate disqualifier for the work I did. My pilot's license was no longer valid. (FAA Rules and Regulations) All of the diligence, time, money and sweat that went into my education....all of the years invested in developing my career were gone in an instant. Even my hobbies, i.e.: blue water sailing would only be a memory, but the most important issue to deal with would be - What about Carolyn? Well...that fantastic lady stood by and supported me (strange how love works) and on February 6, 2010, we were married.
People react differently when you tell them you have MS. Some actually, and unfortunately most, have no idea what MS really is. The look on their face tells it all. They either ask what medications you are taking to cure it, or the terror in their eyes lets you know they think you are dying. The true friends take the time to educate themselves about MS and offer their support and encouragement.
So. how did I decide to deal with MS? I use humor and try to follow my neurologist's directions. Taking my medications on schedule and staying as active as possible. I try not to alienate those in my support arena. I resist depression with every resource available to me, and try to learn new hobbies and ways to adapt. These are just a few of my methods of coping. I place a heavy emphasis on humor.
I have spent many hours on PLM. I stated that briefly because there are so many positives to PLM I really don't know where to start. If you are reading this you already know, so I won't waste your time singing PLM's praises. However, there are a few comments I would like to share:
As for the forum entry (thanks anonnge) about walking canes and wheelchairs being a "chick magnet" - WRONG! If you really want to see a "chick magnet", I have two (one in each ear). They are very high tech, talk to each other, blue tooth as well as iPod compatible and nearly invisible. Talk about battery powered "chick magnets"! Try talking on your cell phone while it is in your pocket and your blue tooth earpiece is at home. Every chick around will want to know how you are doing that - Instant conversation! Unfortunately, I had to promise to cut way back on my dating when we got married. Carolyn was pretty specific about that (I think Zero was the number mentioned). However, the walking cane does come in handy for keeping chicks at a distance.
As for my fellow MS members with the profiles that lament about what a terrible disease this is and how badly they feel when they do something like stumble or forget - SUCK IT UP! SHARE THE BLAME! Here is how:
Females - Blame it on your comma, period or exclamation point (whichever applies), or your husband, or your children, or say something under your breath about that third margarita, or look around frightfully and ask if anyone saw where that Ninja went. Start mumbling about everything previous if it's really serious. Redirecting is the key.
Males - It's a piece of cake. Simply tell everyone that you are male. The females will instantly understand and the other males really don't care.
I look forward to learning from many new friends on PLM. I leave you my wishes for a spectacular life and the parting advice from a radiologist and dear friend, who frequently told his associates, friends, students or anyone he was talking with.......:
"If you're looking for sympathy,
you can find it in the dictionary
between....squat and syphilis."
(I cleaned that up for public reading)
Dr. Young, I learned much from you. Thanks for sharing humor with me, but most of all, thank you and the writers of the TV Show "MASH" for those great words of wisdom:
"Sometimes you just have to pull down your pants and slide on the ice."
More to come.
Feb 24, 2010
Sep 15, 2011