I, at least to my knowledge, am physically healthy. My husband Dion is not. 17 years ago he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, known commonly and simply as MS.
I remember the day that Dion was struck with the first symptom: his whole side went numb. At that time we were engaged to be married. I watched him go through a battery of tests only to be told, “it could be one of two things: MS or a pinched nerve”. I desperately wanted it to be the latter.
Since Dion’s diagnosis we have endeavoured to not allow MS define him or us, though it has been an unwelcome piece of our entire marriage. The reality is that it has left and continues to create an indelible mark. Dion cannot run around the park with our daughter Cate. We cannot go for walks. Dion faces severe fatigue. We are likely needing to install a stair lift sooner rather than later in order to remain comfortably in our house- the only house Cate has ever known. Things that most of us take for granted, like putting on our own socks without getting exhausted, are the norm for Dion.
People look at Dion and can get that his body is facing limitations. He has been increasingly open and transparent about what this disease has taken from him. In the process we have also learned how to better communicate through this as a couple. Dion often says that MS is actually our disease. In many ways he is right, except that I can still feel my body.
I have no idea why Dion has MS and I don’t. I hate being able to do things that he can’t. I struggle with balancing the weight of my responsibility for Dion, Cate, our home and my work. I want to do it all well and then I get overwhelmed. I desire to help Dion in the ways he needs it and give him the space to do what he can still manage and sometimes I get wrong which is which. So often people tell me I look and act so strong, which is lovely, except that it masks my need for help and the amount of sorrow I carry. I need people to pray for Dion. And I need, though I am not sick, for people to pray for me.
Being the “healthy” (read: physically healthy) one has its challenges. It is difficult saying this because I fear it might sound like I am belittling what Dion is going through. I don’t. Every day I watch the person I chose to spend my life with struggle. I get to see first hand the brutality of having MS. I also get to witness how Dion is being healed in other ways through this illness. He is being transformed emotionally and spiritually and is helping me experience the same.
I would very truly switch places with Dion if I could. I long to take it all away. Even if it was for just a moment, a moment where he could chase Cate around the block or even just feel my hand in his.