Monday, August 30, 2010

The Many Faces of MS: A Roommate's Perspective

Here is the 4th installment of "The Many Faces of MS." If you haven't read the other installments read those first. You can find them here:

A Friend's Perspective

A Father's Perspective

A Mother's Perspective

This week Stephanie is my guest blogger. Stephanie was my roommate for two years and was the lucky one living with me when I got diagnosed. She was the first person I told (besides my parents who were w/ me) and she was such a great friend through it all. Steph just finished law school and will be working in LA starting in Oct. I'm flying out to CA at the end of Sept to help her move from San Fran (where her parents live) to LA. We are going to have a fun vacation!! I hope you enjoy Steph's perspective.

When you first learned that I had MS what went through your head?

When I first learned Jodi had MS, I was shocked. I knew she hadn't been feeling very well and had been experiencing some numbness in her limbs, but I remember Jodi trying to rationalize it after she had closed her foot in the door and thought she had pinched a nerve! I knew she had a doctor's appointment the morning she was diagnosed, but when she wasn't home later that day, I called her to see what was up. I was very concerned by the diagnosis she shared. MS? What does that mean and how was that going to affect her life?

I was even more concerned knowing that she had to stay in the hospital for the next week. One day everything was normal and the next things seemed to be turned upside down.

What did you know about MS (if anything)?

I knew next to nothing about MS- probably only the most extreme cases came to mind and this scared me. I had no idea at the time why Jodi would need to be hospitalized for a week and that was pretty scary too, especially since I am terrified of hospitals, but wanted to visit her just as soon as I heard the diagnosis.

My life has changed since I was diagnosed with MS. What about me living w/ MS has made the greatest impact of you? How have you dealt with that?

I think as Jodi's roommate at the time, the thing that made me most aware of Jodi living with MS was the constant shipments of shots to our house, and that they were stored in our fridge. Needles (like hospitals) also freak me out! But Jodi was so matter of fact about the necessary adjustments she needed to make in her life, much more so than I would ever be. It was difficult knowing that she would often be sick after her shot, but it was impressive how Jodi would never let the shot get in the way of a fun night out- she'd just plan around it and have plenty of Gatorade on hand!

Do you think I have changed in any noticeable way since being diagnosed with MS?

Honestly, I don't think Jodi has changed so much since her diagnosis. She just has a new cause! Since I met her Jodi has always been a champion for causes such as Habitat and the AFC Mentoring Program, amongst others. She always seemed to be volunteering for something or other, and now she just has a new cause that she has devoted herself to!

Anything else you want to tell my readers about what it is like to be "Another Face of MS?"

I think that something positive that came out of Jodi's diagnosis was the opportunity to really get to know her awesome family better. When Jodi was diagnosed, I think I had met Paula & Bob one or two times in passing, but after that day when her parents came to the house to pick up a bag that I had prepared for Jodi for the hospital, I have had the opportunity to share in more positive interactions with her family and they are terrific and amazingly supportive! It's been a real treat to get to know them better during the MS Walks and also sharing some holidays with them as well!

Knowing that Jodi is living with MS it also puts things into perspective for me. One sleepless night is nothing compared to the exhaustion I know Jodi has faced, and I guess it just makes you more aware of the people around you and particularly the idea that MS is somewhat of a silent disease, in that it doesn't necessarily manifest itself in a way that is visible to outsiders, so that if you didn't know Jodi, you wouldn't know that she has MS. So it just makes you a little more sensitive to the fact that we each have our own story, and that there's always more to someone than what just meets the eye.

Thanks so much for sharing your perspective Steph! I look forward to our vacation very much!

I hope you are enjoying "The Many Faces of MS" series. Unfortunately this will be the last installment unless any more of my family or friends would like to contribute. I would love to hear from more of you so just let me know!

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