The sentence that changed 2016 for my family, came early in February.
Complaining of a strange feeling in one leg is how it all started, it was like pins and needles I remember her saying. We had just found out I was pregnant. My memory eludes me regarding the events around her being admitted to hospital, or even what happened the first few days she was admitted.
What I do remember is when we found out her diagnosis. My mom had known for a few days, the Drs had suspicions but could not confirm. Mom didn’t want to scare us, she said. This should have been an indication for Stacy and I that the suspicions weren’t good, but somehow we missed this signal. Stacy looked like my sister, I still think she had asked me to sneak in some smokes and hide them from my mom that day. She was laughing and talking.
It was definitely serious – we weren’t in denial about that, from the pain she had gone through to get here. She was sick, something was definitely wrong but that’s what you come to a hospital for… To. Get. Better.
We laughed and joked.
Finally mom let me in.
“They think your sister has multiple sclerosis”
I remember the tears in her eyes when she said it. That those two words at the time had absolutely no meaning to me. I also remember that I had absolutely NO idea what multiple sclerosis was.
For your convenience here is it:
“Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.”
The events that followed are quite blurry, I only remember things in flashes. She was officially diagnosed. I remember sitting on the couch one night at mom’s just weeping, both of us, no words could describe the fears we had for her. The shock. We could not contain the overwhelming emotions.
Stacy was paralyzed from her waist down, she was dependent, depressed and in pain. She didn’t want to understand why this was happening to her (neither did we). It was a hellish time for our family and mostly for her. It humbled us, changed us and created in us, a faith like no other.
It’s hard to think back even now, and it has been a year – when I go through the pictures, the videos of her and her progress, my heart still crumples a little realising it really wasn’t a bad dream. The hardest part (which was nothing on what she went through), was that I am the older sister, the one that shields and protects, the one who gets the flack first, – this was my baby sister going through a nightmare, with no end in sight and I could do nothing to help her. She hadn’t lived her life at 23… didn’t have a boyfriend, no kids? Hadn’t experienced anything at that age. She was a student.
I questioned everything.
It shook me to my being.
The experience grew us, as a family and as individuals.
It took us so long to come to terms with this, and there are still days that I know we forget. Mostly because my sister tries to be so strong and “normal” all the time, that we aren’t constantly reminded. She quietly takes her meds, deals with her pains and struggles. When she falls over because she moves too quickly it’s as though I get that shock all over again. Sometimes I think we don’t really know how to be there for her the way that she needs. But we try none the less. Some days are harder than others, but she is still fighting and using this experience to inspire not just my family but people in general.
Stacy’s recovery was nothing short of a miracle – in less than 3 months she went from being wheeled into a rehab facility on a stretcher to walking out of it with minimal help. (we are blessed as I said). Today she has a full time job, and if you met her you would never know. I’m sharing with you because the strength that my kid sister displayed this last year and still does, has showed me up… her faith, her courage and her joy in a time where we didn’t see anything to feel positive about has moved me.
Moved me to be more, to do more, not because she has MS.
But because I can.
This is the hardest post I’ve ever written. I’ve changed it more times than I can count. It will never be perfect, make sense or perfectly describe.
In the meantime – be grateful.