Rolling Without Limits

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Explaining MS to Children
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Explaining MS to Children

One of the first questions I am asked is, "How are the kids doing with all of it?" Kids always seem to amaze me with their honesty and resilience, but this was a big pill to swallow.

My Back Story:

I have 3 kids. Lily, who is 12, James, who's 9 and baby Ryan who is 2! Lily and James are from my first marriage. Ryan is my husband Mike and I's only child together. Lily is artistic, creative, loves to use her imagination, overly-anxious, but most of all, she has the biggest heart of anyone I know. James is handsome, funny, athletic, sports-obsessed, caring, and such a good brother to Lily and Ryan. Ryan is our crazy man! He is 2 going on 12. He wants to be just like his big brother and sister. He is smart, quick to pick up on things, wants it his way and wants it now, but he is the best snuggler I have ever met.

When I found out I had MS, one of my first thoughts was, "How am I going to explain this to my kids?" Luckily, I wasn't in this alone. After finding out my diagnosis, my sister in law, Ashley, and I went to Google (I mean honestly, where else do parents get all of their info in 2019?). I had been in the hospital for three days by the time I got a diagnosis. They knew that Mom was having trouble with her legs and having trouble walking. Lily told me the other day she was very worried about me at the time. I knew the initial shock of not being able to see me walk, the IVs, the beeping, and just the atmosphere of the hospital would be overwhelming to them. Being 12 and 9, they know so much and so little at the same time.

When researching, Ashley and I found that when children find out a parent has a chronic illness, the 2 most important questions they have are:

Will the parent die? Is the disease contagious? How logical are kids? Those are such honest questions! We started note taking. We found it was best to explain MS in the most simple terms.

Breaking the News:

We started out by telling them MS was a disease that will affect me in many different ways, especially my legs and energy level. We explained that I would still be the same person, I just might not be able to do everything I used to do. We then immediately told them that I will not die from MS nor could they catch it.

They both hugged me tight and shed some tears. I'm still not sure if they were tears of sadness, or relief to know that Mom was going to be okay.

The IV and bed rest was overwhelming, especially for James. He is more of a sensitive soul, but Lily was as strong as she always is. After five days in the hospital, I was home. My pain was still overwhelming; my heart was still breaking from my diagnosis. I was falling quite a bit; my legs would fail me.  I would moan going up the stairs because the energy it took and increased pain I felt were breaking me. After three days of being home, I found James crying in his room. I immediately asked him what was wrong. He told me, "I miss the old Mom."  My heart CRUMBLED. I missed her too, but I knew she would make a comeback - she always did.

To follow my MS story, please check out my blog:


Image credit: Ashley Dauwer

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