Health, is a blessing many of us take for granted until our health or the health of someone close to us begins deteriorating. Once it is affected, we realize it's importance. What if someone you loved had a lifelong disease, something that would never change for the better, only take turns for the worse... How do you think your life would be affected?
“My mom has MS. (Multiple sclerosis). She was diagnosed with it before I was born. Her disease kills the cognitive decision part in her brain. Basically, her motor skills, memory and decision making abilities are all kind of shot. She's there, but she's more like a selfish kid, than a mom.”
“How was it, growing up with your mom?” I asked her. She explained,“I actually thought she hated me. I didn't understand that it was the disease that made her that way, and that she had no control over it. She would shut me out and treat me bad so I thought I was just a horrible kid, but really she didn't even know that what she was doing was wrong.” This woman explains how she was passed from relative to relative to be taken care of since her mother couldn't. She actually cut her own finger so that her mom would notice her and have to talk to her. “The disease made her seem so selfish. I felt like I had no mom, and on top of that, she made really poor choices.” Because her mother's motor skills were effected as well, this woman encountered many traumatic experiences with her. “There were so many car accidents, she fell in the pool, she would fall down the stairs... I remember when I was 6, she fell down the stairs when I was home alone with her..she was carrying a laundry basket so I took all of the clothes that had spilled and put them under her head to prop it up because she wasn't breathing. I called my dad... I was so scared. I just wanted someone I could run to when I was sad or scared you know, someone who would hold me and talk to me, but my mom wasn't like that. I was always the one taking care of her.”
“Who was your support system during all of this,” I asked her. She said “My whole family, literally everybody.” Diseases can do one of two things to a family...either completely tear it apart, or draw them closer together. For this woman, she was lucky enough to have the second happen. “My grandma kind of stepped in as my mom, and the rest of my family was always there whenever I needed them.” She has an older brother as well, and he and her father were her rocks and role models.
Now that she is older, her relationship with her mother is very different. “With age comes understanding and I know that my mom can't help the way she is, she can't change, so I started putting my feelings aside and tried to make things easier on her.” This woman loves her mom to death. She will do anything for her. She drives her to her appointments, takes her shopping to get her out of the house, writes things on sticky notes and places them around the house so if her mom forgets things, she can look at the notes to remind herself. She even rearranges the rooms in her home to make it easier for her mom to have things to hold onto as she is walking through.. “You know what I think changed me the most... watching my friend's mom die from MS. I realized I don't want to take my mom for granted anymore. You never know which fall will be the last fall, or how quickly her brain could start deteriorating..”
“So how do you think your mom's disease has affected you as a person?” I asked her. “In what ways do you think this has made you a better person?” She responded, “Well I think it's made me more sympathetic, it's definitely made me stronger and know how to take care of myself..” To end the interview I asked if she would change anything. Her response..“You know, as much as it sucks sometimes, I wouldn't change it. Without her disease, I probably wouldn't be who I am today.”
- A the word changes contributor