Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Military & Multiple Sclerosis

I never thought I would marry into the military...
or have the need to say, “I have MS”.

When I first met my husband he was in the Army National Guard, now he is in the Air National Guard. I have experienced a lot as a military wife and I am sure to experience a lot more; I’ve no regrets. Regardless if you are Active military or National Guard, when you have MS, being a military family is incredibly challenging. As a matter of fact, being a military family is a lot like having MS.

There is a large amount of unpredictability, a physical and emotional roller-coaster, a lot of “hurry up and wait”, as well as moments of incredible learning about who you are and how far your limits extend. Patience is tried, but there are also moments of accomplishment.

When my husband went through his Officer training in Tennessee, there was a graduation program at the completion that I was able to attend. This program was a big deal, so the commencement was not a small event.

During the evening portion of the event, there was a table with a display that represented the fallen soldiers of all the military branches. I was touched at how the table was displayed. A representative in uniform for each branch carried a dress hat and walked slowly to the cadence of a very somber air. The great hall was very quiet throughout the presentation, with an air of respect, sorrow, devotion, absence, honor, memory, and that moment you were on hallowed ground. It is the memory of this experience that comforts me beyond explanation.

No matter our lot in life, regardless of our trials, 
human life is so precious and important that I know I can’t waste a moment of it.

I cry. I have bitter moments. I feel loss and frustration, but when I am through feeling these emotions that any human has the right to feel, I then have a responsibility to carry on and do what I can do - serving others that are still within arms reach.

I am at war. I’m a soldier fighting for normalcy, functionality, happiness, and me; and when I fall, I expect you to be there for me. I could share more military and MS experiences, but the one I have shared here is the most applicable. I have a little motto that I like to say a lot. I have said it in this blog before and it is a good one to keep in mind.

Living your life based on the unpredictability of MS can be
more detrimental than the disease itself.

To withhold opportunities, activities, and goals because you aren’t sure how your MS is going to affect you from day to day, only makes for a lonely and unhappy existence.

The military factor is nothing more than another obstacle. So I have to find someone else to inject my arms when Josh is gone. I have sole responsibility to maintain our home and finances...but I have also been blessed with awesome family, neighbors, co-workers, friends, and community. The thing that makes the biggest difference is letting these people in to help me when I am going it alone. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it isn’t fun when Josh is deployed or at drill when I need him, but it all boils down to the same thing regardless of the situation and that is how I let it affect me.

My husband is currently gone with the military for the next year. Earlier in the week, I was just fine. Yesterday I was miserable. Today I am sad, but productive. Tomorrow...tomorrow will be what tomorrow brings, but for now the forecast is positive.

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