Identity Theft

Not long ago there was a message on my voicemail to call the credit card company’s fraud department.  Thankfully, their surveillance system automatically caught the fact that wiring a large sum of money to a third world country was not in my usual spending pattern.  They had stopped that payment and also another one of equal size, but needed to verify that I really had not wanted to send my money abroad.

This is not the first time this has happened to us – a big box store once had an order for a 60 inch flat screen tv, using my credit card number, but delivering it to Texas. Fortunately that one was caught by the retailer and they verified the purchase and the shipping location seemed odd, since I live in Ohio.  Both times this has happened it was a minor nuisance to get a replacement card, change the numbers on my automatic payments that went with that card, and wait a few days for the replacement to arrive.  But it was fixable.

If only what Multiple Sclerosis steals could be so easily stopped; a dear friend had to quit her dream profession, one which she studied for years to reach, because of this disease.  She was a  pediatrician and knew the moment she froze in tending to a critically ill infant that she was no longer cognitively able to practice medicine and realized she posed a risk to the patients she was trusted to care for.  The profession for which she had spent so many years in school to prepare for was immediately gone.

There is another doctor who recently posted his story, Working in medicine with MS , about the difficulty of being an ICU physician and the exhaustion that comes not only from his 80 hour work week job but also his MS. It sounds like he is a fairly recent licensed physician because he writes about having to pay off his student loans. There was a response from several people who had similar stories, and I continue to be amazed at the number of medically trained people who also have MS. I personally know several nurses who have Multiple Sclerosis.

I don’t believe the number of people with MS who trained in medicine is proportionately higher than the general population but for some reasons those stories jump out at me a bit more. Perhaps because the rest of us don’t name the job we do as we write about our journey with MS, that only the medical people jump out at me. Or maybe it is because I appreciate my medical team and know the dedication it takes to complete the schooling to be entrusted with our care.

From my pediatrician friend, I also understand how closely attached her identity was to being a physician. She once corrected me that she is still a doctor, just not a practicing one.  I work as an administrative assistant, but don’t think of that as who I am, it is just what I do to earn a living and to keep my health insurance, but doctors even have who they are as part of their name, such as Marcus Welby, M.D., or Dr. Feelgood.

That’s not to say many of us don’t also lose to MS things that we identify with, and also mourn that loss. This applies to anyone who pursued a dream, or a profession and made it happen, to only have it taken away by this disease. Loss of identity can also happen to relationships where unexpectedly the partner walks away, leaving the other person alone.; going from a couple to to a single.

Much like I cursed at the person who lifted my identity and credit card number, I curse at Multiple Sclerosis and how it often, without warning, steals the identity from people who worked hard to define who they are. If only there was a 1-800 telephone number we could call to correct the problem and halt this thief.

Wishing you well,


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