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Blaming MS for the breakup: perception or reality?

Blaming MS for the Breakup: Perception or Reality?

1. He Couldn't Accept His

Own MS

I'm very concerned about a comment made in your article on dating (Summer, 1990 issue). Everyone interviewed stated, "We were divorced because my partner couldn't accept my MS."

I am a soon to-be ex-wife of a man who has MS and, believe me, the first one to make that statement would be my ex. But the truth is he couldn't accept his own MS... He left work and went into a deep depression, totally ignoring his family. I had to become the worker, the cook, the child care person, while he did nothing but watch TV all day, blaming everyone else for everything. He acted totally helpless and showed no support or love for his family, but wanted support from us all across the line...

He finally went to a support group. He left us shortly after, clearing out the bank accounts and practically leaving us penniless. He said we "couldn't take his MS"... I finally had the sense to file for divorce, but it wasn't because of the MS, it was because of the man... Once selfish, always selfish. I now know the marriage was doomed from the start.

2. Was I Blind?

Something was brought to my attention recently that caused me to stop and look at myself and what I may unknowingly be doing to my loved ones.

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1985. Since that time I have gotten progressively worse, ending up in a wheelchair, not able to move from the waist down. I have bladder, bowel and vision problems among other things. I hate the MS and the related problems, but I've swallowed my macho pride and learned to adapt and live with it.

One of the things I tend to forget is that others in my home are also living with my MS.

Now all this brings me to the point. How thoughtful am I toward the ones that love me? Not very. This was brought to my attention one evening by my wife, Ramona. She seemed to be getting shorter and shorter with me every day for several months. As anyone would, I said "What's wrong honey?" To my surprise Ramona told me she was fed up and moving out because of how thoughtless I was. I was stunned, heartbroken, scared.

This is my best friend, we have known each other for nineteen years and been together for the last ten. My only thought now was, MS has done it again. It has busted up another relationship. I had heard the stories in my MS groups about spouses leaving and I used to think it is just a matter of time before my wife will think to herself, "Who needs this?" I believe these thoughts go through all spouses' minds at one time or another and they are quite valid.

As my wife sat on the side of my bed discussing getting her own apartment, all I wanted to know was why she wanted to move out and give up her home that she loved so much. Ramona said, "Honey, I love you but I can't live with you anymore."

With tears in her eyes she began to tell me why she wanted out. After four hours of conversation until four in the morning, this is the message I came away with:

Ramona didn't mind cleaning up after the accidents I would have in the bathroom. You know, the "I almost made it syndrome." Accidents in bed were always cleaned up and I got a bath and a clean change of bedding with never ever a complaint or a look of disgust. Ramona fixes my meals and then cleans food off the floor. She says nothing. She always makes sure I have a neatly organized closet of clean clothers. Not a frown. Ramona makes sure that I have everything I need or want to make my life easier. I shave and then she gets what I've missed so I'll look nice. She is always willing. Ramona listens to me when I complain about MS over and over. She shows compassion over and over. Whenever I do venture outside of my little safe house, she makes sure I'm buttoned up and my clothes match. She takes a moment and tries to replace my frightened look with a smile. She never quits.

All these things were aired to make me aware that I was unkowingly taking these things for granted. Ramona made not one complaint about these chores. The problem was the extra and unnecessary work that I had created by being thoughtless or plain lazy. I drive my three-wheel cart too fast in the house. Any wheelchair jockey knows the damage you can cause if you exceed the speed limit while drinking your morning coffee and reading the paper. I make light of this but it's not funny to watch Ramona in a hot garage mixing touch-up paint all the time...

Ramona has never asked anything of me that was beyond my capability. What she did ask for that night is for some simple considerations such as returning my direty dish to the kitchen counter. If you can take it out you can put it back; if you spill it, wipe it up; if you can't, ask for help. Don't just leave it. And the list goes on. I don't know where my thinking was. I'm sure all these things being done for me were not being done by THE MS FAIRY!

Even though severely handicapped I can make more of a contribution than I have. If I can find time to spend thingking, "Poor me, look what I can't do anymore," then I can spend time thinking of what kind of contributions I can make.

I still have my bouts with anger, depression, frustration and loss, but may I never forget the message that was so long overdue. Ramona did me a big favor in bringing all this to a head. I love her with all my heart.

P.S. Besides caring for me, Ramona is a full time student at Cal State Northridge working on a Masters Degree. She has carried a 4.0 grade average for four years. This is done in the evening while teaching junior high school during the day.

My sister, age 52, was diagnosed 19 years ago. At that time her two children were pre-school age, so they don't remember the time when their mother didn't have "pins and needles" in her legs and didn't have to rest every day.

I was around during the first eight years of the illness. I helped her devoted husband take the load off her. It was easier just to go in and clean the house than to help her do it herself. The children grew up feeling guilty if they had any feelings of resentment over having to tiptoe in from school and be very quiet so that they wouldn't wake Mom. I was around to see their home and family begin to revolve around MS. I was living across the country when the downhill trek toward the breakup of the family began...

Why should she worry if I had a clean bed to sleep in when I visited? We had long before that time relieved her of any responsibility to nurture other people. We had all helped her to be totally involved in her MS...

I have learned that nothing is accomplished by being unkind, harsh, begging, threatening... But looking back, it seems her family protected her but forgot to protect themselves, failing to establish healthy living patterns for themselves...
COPYRIGHT 1991 National Multiple Sclerosis Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:three readers' stories and a professional's comments
Author:Cavallo, Pamela
Publication:Inside MS
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Previous Article:A look at the FDA from the MS point of view.
Next Article:Freeze-fracture: probing the myelin depths.

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