First 30 Days Blog

22 dec

A Mother’s Battle for Her Boys

“A MOTHER’S BATTLE FOR HER BOYS”

When the doctors diagnosed me with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.), I was 25 years old. I was supposed to be in the prime of my life. Not to mention, I had three small boys, ages 7, 5 and 2. My illness put a big strain on my marriage also. Sometimes I think it was actually harder on my family, than it was on me. My boys didn’t understand what happened to their mommy, my husband didn’t know how to deal with it and my parents were in denial of the whole situation.
I wasn’t glad that I had M.S., but it did explain some of the odd things that had been going on with my body: numbness and tingling in my legs, blurred vision, lack of bowl and bladder control and the weakness and fatigue. M.S. described my condition perfectly. My physical symptoms were difficult to manage, but my emotional state of mind was even worse. I had always been such an active mother. The boys filled my days with all kinds of activities. Going to the skating rink, the park, ball games and being room-mother, were just a few things, that we were used to doing. When the M.S. flared up, this put a halt to some of these activities. For one thing, my vision seemed to be affected more than anything. When this would happen, I wasn’t able to drive. During these times, we couldn’t even leave the house.
My boys wouldn’t let me give up though. They pushed me to keep going. They weren’t about to let their mom give in to this horrible disease. I remember when my youngest son, Kyle, would come in my room in the mornings to wake me up. He would lightly pat me on the cheek, as he whispered, “Mama. Mama.” When I opened my eyes, he would give me the sweetest smile. He would give me a little hug and then he’d yank back my covers and say, “Get up, Mama. I want some git-gits” (biscuits). Those words actually saved me. That little boy needed his Mama. If I was using crutches, he would even hand them to me, to speed up the process a little. He was very persistent and he really liked his biscuits.
My friends and family were very supportive with my illness. Some of them, brought over dinner for us or took my kids to school for me in the morning. Sometimes they even helped me with my housework. Many of them told me that they were sorry it happened to me, especially while my boys were so small and they needed me so much. Those words would play over and over in my mind. Yes, my boys needed me, but I needed them just as much. They made me keep trying and they gave me a reason to get up each morning.
Even though, I learned to live with my sickness, and my boys adapted to it just fine; this whole thing really put a strain on my marriage. Some people have a hard time dealing with a sickness. When I think back on it now, I really do understand; yet at the time, it didn’t make any sense to me at all. Not only did I have to fight a terrible battle, but I had to deal with it on my own. Just a couple years after my diagnoses, my husband left us.
Trying to find a job was another obstacle I had to overcome. Since I was a stay-home mom for eleven years, I didn’t have experience at anything except for changing diapers. Unfortunately, that was not needed in the office place. Finding a place to hire me with no experience was one thing, but having an illness that could hurt my attendance record was a whole new issue. I wouldn’t miss just a day or two at a time, I would have to miss several days or weeks at a time when the M.S. flared up.
Somehow, I always found some kind of a job though. I learned to keep my illness a secret until after I was hired. Any place that I mentioned M.S. in my interview, never called me. The jobs I did have, I learned on-the-job training. I felt like I had to work harder than everyone else, to compensate for my illness. It paid off most of the time. Many of the places worked with me and helped me through my bad times. I found that the smaller offices were much more tolerant. One of the offices didn’t have any patience with me at all. It was a big corporation and the first time I was out for a few days, my boss reprimanded me in front of everyone. He had no compassion at all. I went in the bathroom crying and then I called a place that I had worked for before to see if I could come back to work there. When they agreed, I gave my notice the next day. I didn’t get paid enough to put up with that.
There was a certain amount of things, of course, that I did have to put up with. There were mornings that I really struggled to just get to work. By the time, I got up, got myself ready, helped my boys get dressed and get them off to school, I was exhausted. Fighting the traffic and dealing with the aggravation at work, was sometimes too overwhelming. Some days were a little more than I could handle. Each morning, when I got up and seen my boys’ faces, it reminded me why I had to keep going. They kept me strong. For some reason, I kept pushing myself.
As the boys got older, our life became more and more hectic. There was baseball, football, hockey, basketball, band, choir, boy scouts and I even played room mother on my lunch hour when it was possible. I wanted my boys to have a good childhood, even though they had to deal with some unusual circumstances.
As I watched my boys grow up, I felt bad sometimes that they had to grow up faster than normal. However, I realize now, that it probably made them stronger. I am only about 5′ 3″ and all of my sons are about 6′. Luckily, I had their respect, and they always looked out for me. There were some nights, when I would come home, after having a bad day at work, and my oldest son, would actually pick me up, put me on the couch, and tell me, “I’m cooking dinner tonight and you’re not getting off of the couch.” Then he would cook dinner and clean up afterward. He loved experimenting in the kitchen and even to this day, he is a wonderful cook. He felt like he had to step in and be the man of the house, when his dad left. He did a fantastic job of taking care of his brothers and I. However, at times, he took things a little too far and I had to remind him that I was still the parent. Just like the time when he called into work for me, to tell my boss that I was too sick to come in. I told him that he couldn’t be doing that. I remember he got so upset and said, “You don’t have any business going into work in your condition!” He cried as he hugged me. He was so afraid that something was going to happen to me. I felt so sorry for him. He wanted so bad to take care of me and he did a great job of it.
I waited until my oldest two sons moved out before I got remarried. I knew that there couldn’t be two men of the house. My husband now is a wonderful man. He knew what he was up against when he married me. It hasn’t been easy for him, I know, but he has still stood by me through some pretty rough times. My youngest son just moved out last year, so now it’s just him and I. My illness has progressed in the past few years. I have to give myself interferon shots (Rebif), three times a week and I am on disability now. I wondered what would keep me going since my boys have moved out. However, my family is only growing now. Not only do I have my husband, but I have a daughter-in-law, two grand-daughters, my other boys’ girlfriends and even a puppy. Her name is Angel and she truly has been an angel to me. My boys are still a big part of my life and they are still very protective of me. They also make me keep trying. We have come this far, so why would we give up now? We have too much to live for – we have each other; and that’s a lot!

Shared by sherristanczak.

Posted by First 30 Days on December 22nd, 2008 in Personal Stories | 5 comments

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5 Comments

  • Quite an emotional story filled with so much strength
    and courage, I hope I can have half of what you have to be strong and positive and such a great example to my kids when and if my health goes again. You are an inspiration and sounds like you know what you need to do and you are doing it :)

    Shared by emk69krs.

    — Added by First30Days on August 28th, 2009
  • Wow, what a story! I identify with the part where those words your son said about wanting biscuits really stayed with you. It’s often those small moments or actions that really mean a lot. When I was pretty little, my mom fell chronically ill too, and when she was in the hospital, we’d often visit of course. It was such a stark place and I missed her so much. I sewed a little hand-held heart out of two pieces of fabric (she taught my sister and me how to sew at a very young age) and stuffed it.
    She was very very sick for years, and definitely did not want to be alive at times. To this day though, she has the heart on her nightstand and has told me a number of times, “That heart got me through it because I knew I had you kids and wanted to be there for you.”

    Shared by majje01.

    — Added by First30Days on August 28th, 2009
  • Wow, what a story! I identify with the part where those words your son said about wanting biscuits really stayed with you. It’s often those small moments or actions that really mean a lot. When I was pretty little, my mom fell chronically ill too, and when she was in the hospital, we’d often visit of course. It was such a stark place and I missed her so much. I sewed a little hand-held heart out of two pieces of fabric (she taught my sister and me how to sew at a very young age) and stuffed it.
    She was very very sick for years, and definitely did not want to be alive at times. To this day though, she has the heart on her nightstand and has told me a number of times, “That heart got me through it because I knew I had you kids and wanted to be there for you.”

    Shared by aliciak.

    — Added by First30Days on August 28th, 2009
  • sherristanczak, what a strong woman you are and your boys are to be commended for loving you completely…this is the family and all it stands for. Husbands sometimes forget the words, “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health”, etc. Our children know the meaning better than we do of loving completely. Good luck to you and that wonderful man that is fortunate enough to have found you.

    Shared by arabrab.

    — Added by First30Days on August 28th, 2009
  • What an inspiring story. There’s certainly nothing stronger than a mother’s love (except a son’s love for his mother). It shows the power of the heart and the spirit to triumph when you have a goal and loving support.

    Shared by ChangeChamp.

    — Added by First30Days on August 28th, 2009

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