Dave Anderson from Minnetonka, Minnesota shared his story with us for our
MS Veteran newsletter, Fall 2009 edition.
MS came into my life in 1981 when my left side suddenly went numb. Two days later, the feeling returned and I continued with my life unaware of what this numbness might mean. My next, and most severe symptom, was optic neuritis in 1990 when I suddenly lost the vision in my left eye. Thankfully, steroids allowed my sight to return. My eye doctor mentioned that my loss of vision could possibly be an indication of MS, which I chose to ignore. All was quiet again until 1996, when I experienced entirely new symptoms. This led me to a neurologist who confirmed the diagnosis of Relapsing-Remitting MS.
My reaction to this diagnosis, I would learn, was common. My emotions went full spectrum and were mostly negative. I felt that my future had been snatched away, just when I was at the peak of my career in computers and the Internet. It was a tough road and it took me a couple of years before I saw that life with MS could be “okay” – not great – but “okay”. The rock solid support of my wife, Marian, was key in making this possible for me.
Soon after my diagnosis, Marian and I went to the National MS Society (NMSS) office in Minneapolis where we met a wonderful woman, Jeannie, who guided us through the realities of living with MS. I have taken advantage of the many NMSS resources available, including self-help groups, seminars, weekend retreats, and much more. I highly recommend using the services of the NMSS as they can offer valuable support and information.
Being involved in the Internet at work, I naturally sought out information on the web. I was looking for a way to talk to others who were newly diagnosed to see what they were doing to manage their MS. I was fortunate to find MSWorld.org and became a frequent visitor to this site.
Over the 11 years I’ve been using MSWorld, I became a volunteer and now serve as Vice President. It is an amazing group of 30+ volunteers with MS who manage the website. There are more than 30,000 registered members from around the world. MSWorld is a free service that is there to help people with MS, and their loved ones, when the need is most urgent.
I receive outstanding care for my MS at the Minneapolis VAMC. I have also been fortunate to be able to volunteer for a number of programs; including training sessions on using the web-based program MyHealtheVet and facilitating a 6-week course for people with chronic health conditions to help them better manage their illness.
It is my belief that our attitude has an effect on our health. Once I decided to learn how to take charge of my MS, I knew it was up to me to stay as healthy as possible, albeit not perfect, so I am able to do the things that matter in my life. I know the medication I take for my MS works for me and I take it faithfully, as prescribed. We all hope for a better quality of life. I found that taking charge of my health has helped me live that hope.
Posted: May 2010