Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence
Jeff Jensen: Multiple Sclerosis Changed My Life
Jeff Jensen -- LaPorte, Indiana
I enlisted in the US Army in 1987. After completing Basic Combat Training, I went into Advanced Individual Training (AIT) as a Field Medic. I went to AIT again in 1990 for Transportation. While in AIT the 2nd time, our reserve unit was activated and sent to Kuwait. We were overseas for 184 days before being sent home.
Life went back to normal once I was home, until April 2009 when my vision became a little strange. I wasn’t sure what was going on so I made an appointment to see an eye doctor. The optometrist ran a series of tests on my eyes and found that my eye exam suggested a possibility of MS. She recommended I see a neurologist. I made an appointment and had a MRI scan and then a spinal tap completed. Following my tests, an MS Specialist confirmed that I had MS. At first I was in denial that I had MS. This denial stayed with me even as I administered my daily disease modifying therapy injections. In time, I accepted my diagnosis and realized that MS was not going to prevent me from living my life to its fullest every single day.
My journey with MS has not always been an easy one. I’ve had my ups and downs, but through it all, I’ve come through all right. I exercise every day; push-ups, sit-ups, turn, and bounce. I like to bicycle, take walks, and enjoy swimming at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). I really enjoy being in the water and think I must have been a fish in a previous life. I’ve found that doggy paddle is a good stroke for me as it prevents water from getting in my mouth. Every year I participate in the National MS Society Bike MS and Walk MS fundraising events. Last year I participated in the Society MuckFest fundraising event which was a lot of fun.
The MuckFest is a 5K course that has 15+ outrageous obstacles along the course route. The course I participated in was in a forested area with 18 obstacles laid out in clearings along the route. Each of the obstacles varied, some spinning and swinging you in the air while others took you over, under, and through various elements. I completed all of the obstacles, although that wasn’t required to complete the course. Some folks didn’t want to get muddy so they avoided the obstacles that got them too dirty.
The MuckFest was a challenge, made me laugh, and was a great opportunity to meet new people. There was an obstacle early on where I couldn’t get my leg over a barrier and a couple came and helped me. They were there to have fun just like me, and they kind of stayed with me throughout the remaining course. I enjoyed talking with them and was touched that these people, who were once strangers to me, stayed with me, providing emotional support and a little physical support when needed. Being surrounded by so many people who have been touched by MS in some way was amazing. The sense of community was all around me and I hope to be able to compete again next year.
I’ve had MS for over five years now and although I’ve had to make adjustments to accommodate some of my symptoms, life is good. I like keeping my body healthy, active, and fit. I enjoy watching sports of all kinds, playing keyboard, writing poems, and collecting baseball cards. I like being involved in fundraisers and would like to find additional ways that I can raise money to benefit Veterans as well as MS organizations working to find a cure. I enjoy life and every new day gives me an opportunity to get out there, meet new people, have new experiences, and raise awareness for MS. I’m just one person, but I am going to make a difference in the fight to find a cure for MS.
(from fall 2014 newsletter)