This I Believe

Nancy - Juneau, Alaska
Entered on May 17, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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Laughter is the Best Medicine

I believe humor has a lot of value in dealing with adversity. In a letter from my brother, he said “You have taught a lot of people about the value of humor and attitude in life – me among them.”

Seventeen years of battling with M.S. has provided many opportunities to test and heighten this belief. I was diagnosed with M.S. in 1989, just days after my first wedding anniversary. Steve could have left me then, but he didn’t. Riding down on the elevator from the doctor’s office he said, “Hey look; now we can park in all the blue spaces.” My husband has always helped me laugh at my disease.

Steve operated a salmon hatchery in Kake, Alaska. One day when he was working, I was at home and it was a sunny day. I never wanted to be indoors when the sun was shining. Since my arms still worked in those days, I decided I would go outside and get down those stairs. Hand over hand, I managed to get outside. The next task was getting down the stairs. Since I could only pull myself, the only option was to start down the stairs head first. I should mention here that the stairs were constructed of rough-cut lumber that we’d cut by hand ourselves on a chainsaw mill – no smooth surfaces! Undeterred by the steep precipice before me, I decided that I could do a controlled (head first) descent.

I’d only made it about three steps when my catheter tube caught on something. Eventually my arms began to give way, but fortunately, forward momentum was slowed by the snagging of my sweatpants as they caught on a rough splinter. As my body continued to move downward and my pants reached my ankles, my forward launch was halted entirely. I couldn’t proceed down and couldn’t go back up, but I was outside, the sun was shining, and there were berries on the hillside next to me. I decided that this was a better place to “hang out” than indoors on a nice day. I enjoyed this spot for about 45 minutes.

At that same time, Steve, who had been giving a tour and having a discussion with a Nobel Prize winning scholar, suggested to the gentleman that he come upstairs with him to meet his wife. As the two of them rounded the corner of the building, and I was still squirming about and trying to find a more comfortable position, I heard Steve say to the scholar, “Oh, and here she is now; and as you can see, she is a natural-born blonde.”

This is an example of how we’ve coped with 17 years of rapidly-progressing M.S. With humor, you can get through almost anything.