I will never forget when you were first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was ten years ago and I was only eight years old, but I remember it like it was just yesterday.
You had completely lost the use of your legs and you were in a lot of pain. Mom and I didn’t know what was wrong, so we took you to the hospital. I was nervous that you were really sick. I didn’t know if you would ever recover, or what would happen to you. All I could remember was feeling scared and confused.
They told us you had MS. I remember not knowing what that was, but they gave mom a children’s book that taught kids about the chronic illness.
Now, ten years later, I’ve learned a lot about MS and how it can impact someone’s life drastically.
Over the years, I’ve adapted to the role of being your caregiver as a natural part of my lifestyle, but sometimes, it can still be challenging.
At times, you’re in a lot of pain, and it’s hard for you to understand what I’m trying to say in our conversations. You can get your tasks mixed up, not know what we’re doing, or grow frustrated. Some days, it’s hard for you to get out of bed, and you just need a day to rest.
Even on your roughest days, I know exactly how to cheer you up. I know I can bring Curie and Sam – our cat and our dog – into your room to play with you. It gives you a lot of comfort, just to snuggle with them.
But not every day is like that. On the good days, you would do everything under the sun to make my days amazing. You’ll help me with homework, drive me places, and just chat with me. You’re a pretty happy person to be around – we feed off each other in that way and I always have a great time hanging out with you. You love to joke around, and I’m usually roped into it, whether I want to be or not.
One of my favourite memories of us was around three or four years ago. I got a Nintendo Wii for Christmas, but we both know it was really a gift for both of us. There was one game we both loved to play and that was all we did for about a year. Whenever we had a spare moment, we’d just know – it was time for me to try and beat your high score. Somehow, you always had the high score, but I’m convinced you were playing while I was at school. It was really fun. Thinking about it now makes me smile.
In the fall, I’ll be going off to university and it will be difficult to be away from you and mom, but I think we will be okay. I try to take care of you the best I can, but you like to stay pretty self-sufficient.
And my future ambitions make it a little easier for me to leave.
I’m looking forward to starting the Biomedical Science program at the University of Ottawa, but my real dream is to graduate and ultimately, go into MS research.
For me, its simple. I’ve always loved science, and MS has affected our lives so heavily. It just feels like the natural thing to do. Ultimately, I want to be able to make life better for people living with MS and their families even just a little bit, whether that comes in the form of new medicine, alternative forms of treatment or counselling aid. I know it hasn’t always been easy for us, and anything I can do to help people in the same shoes would be a win for me.
Even though I was only eight when you had your first relapse, I distinctly remember the feeling of never wanting anyone else to have to go through the same pain you did. I knew I wanted to educate myself about the disease and help people.
I hope one day, I can make a difference. I love you and more than anything, I want to help find a cure to beat MS. And of course, I’ll visit you and mom every chance I get.