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This week is Multiple Sclerosis week. On the Channel 6 News Live at 4 Thursday, we spoke to several people who have been impacted by MS in their own way.
Click the attached video to view the interview.
Our guests included Linda Hogrefe from the MS Society. We also spoke to Alexi Munchrath and her mother Cindy about their experience. Alexis has lived with MS all of her life even though she doesn’t have it. Her mother has had MS since Alexis was born.
This is Alexis’ impact statement to explain their lives together:
My mother has had MS since I was born. My parents got divorced when I was very young and my mother
could not take care of me or herself alone. My grandparents (her parents) had us move in with them. My mom has to have someone with her at all times because she needs help completing many tasks. As a result, if my wonderful grandparents are out, I am the primary caregiver which sometimes takes away from my school work. My mom needs help going to the bathroom, crossing her legs on the couch, opening a candy bar, looking for a song on her iPod, etc. Not that I mind helping, but this can become time consuming and limit my ability to volunteer as much as I want to and study as much as I need to. Sometimes the emotional stress of MS becomes too much and is distracting from my school work.
Multiple Sclerosis has had an immense impact on my life. I believe there is no stronger person than one who has been plagued by this disease. Of course, MS comes with some really unfortunate effects, but I'd like to think that the positive effects significantly outweigh the negative ones. There were plenty of nights where teardrops hit my pillow because I didn't understand what was happening to my mom. Why couldn't she walk? Why did her hands shake? Why would she tell me that story from high school 3 times in a day? But, as I got older I began to see who my mom really was. This cruel disease did not define my mom. It was absolutely not going to stop her from living. Every day she challenged MS to beat her. I watched her struggle to walk to the bathroom. I saw her commitment to go to Fast Forward, a gym, and get stronger. I knew how tired just taking a shower made her. But never, not once, did I see her give up.
This is the positive impact that MS has had on my life. My mom is the strongest person I know. She taught me that no matter how challenging a task is to complete, giving up will get me nowhere. No matter how many times life knocks you down, you get right back up stronger than before. She always encouraged me to be the best that I could be. If I was not understanding long division, she would tell me to take a step back, breath, and try again. If I was at my soccer game and did not score a goal, she would assure me that the next game would turn out better. Witnessing how my mom committed to never giving up inspired me to do the same.
MS has also taught me that a person's appearance on the outside is not what is on the inside. When my mom, grandma, and I go out shopping, my mom needs to ride in a wheel chair because that much walking will greatly fatigue her. Often times, other shoppers stare at my mom in the chair. I understand that most people do not have a handicapped person around them most of the day. But seeing the other shoppers stare at us made me realize that if they only knew the humorous, big-hearted mother sitting in the chair, they would not have such a blank look on their faces. The fact that someone is handicapped and in a wheel chair does not hinder their intelligence, their ability to love, or the fact that they are human.
My mom is always available to listen to me rant about boys, or school, or politics. I believe that this carried over to me.
I've been told that I'm a great listener. My experiences with my mom have allowed me to sympathize well with my friend's similar situations and develop just as big of a heart as my mom. My mom has always put other people before herself. She would take a break from her daily battle with MS to help me learn my Spanish vocabulary, talk to me while I painted my nails, talk to a friend in need, or help my grandparents with dinner. This has shaped the caring person that I have become today. My friends know that they can
always come to me for advice, or just to rant to me about boys (or girls), or school, or politics.
The impact that Multiple Sclerosis has had on my life is so extensive that I would not be the same person that I am today without my experience. When my mother was first diagnosed with MS, she thought her life was over. She thought she had been robbed of the chance to experience life with her daughter. Since then, 19 years later, she can walk to the bathroom on a good day. While some days, the MS does win the daily battle, my mom wins a lot more. She is the reason that I am so strong today. I am the reason she gets out of bed in the morning and she is mine. She is the reason that I chose to participate in the International Baccalaureate program and go on to college to become a physician. She is my inspiration to live. Now that I am older, I see that MS did not rob my mom of her life, it just gave her an unique way of tackling it. It definitely throws us quite a few curve balls and establishes some speed bumps, but my family's lives were clearly not meant to be uneventful! My mom's MS has shown me that having a positive attitude can have a positive effect on a person's quality of life. Though, there are still some very difficult days, those days when the MS wins. But, they do not pose such a challenge as before because we face them together. My mom is not alone in her daily battle with MS. My grandparents and I are in it, to win it, with her because giving up is simply not an option, for any of us.