Wednesday, February 28, 2007

a tad bit in the open

I’m a married father of five and grandfather to two beautiful little identical twin girls. My wife and I have been married for thirty years and we are both U.S. Air Force veterans. She was in for ten and I was in for four. We are both disabled with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). As a consequence we both are no longer able to work, in fact we need a considerable amount of help at home to just kinda keep up.

Cognitive problems hit me first and started showing up while I was still in the USAF. I just knew, because of my fractured brain, I would end up in a lot of trouble before the military doctors ever figured out what was wrong with me. My wife also possesses all the cognitive problems now. The civilian world also diagnosed me with a Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder.

The shrinks ignored all my physical symptoms and the regular MD’s weren’t sure what was going on. Once you get the mental illness label it seems everything that occurs to you fits nicely under that label. If it wasn’t for the good efforts of Dr. Tammy I would still be an ‘interesting case’( I was told that) on some shrinks couch. My wife and I were both diagnosed with MS within a couple weeks of each other. We are a bit of an oddity since no one has ever heard of both partners in a long time marriage both developing MS. It’s been very hard on the family but doubly so for the kids. Bipolar is exceptionally hard on every one especially during the undiagnosed years. The illness has brought us into poverty with all the commensurate lack of respect.

How did we both get ‘The Illness’? Was it old Air Force days? We both grew up about a mile apart, as the crow flies, on the Illinois side of the Saint Louis area. Was it something in the water or blowing in from the factories along the Mississippi? Or did God just decide we were both so ornery that He would just go ahead and inflict us on each other? We’ll never know. We just have to keep going and hang in there the 'best we can'.

My wife and I and the three kids still at home struggle along by ourselves as 'best we can'. It’s amazing how society still expects us to jump through all the hoops everyone else does with equal success and enthusiasm.

Thanks to the 109th Congress they just took away, as of the first of this year, my disability money and medical. I’ll keep going but there are people out there who will lose there lives as a result of these cutbacks.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society