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Grin and Bear it!

I was the perfect example of someone who should be living with Multiple Sclerosis FEAR. I was 29-years-old, four years into my diagnosis, barely able to walk, unable to control my bladder, unable to move my fingers, and damage to my Optic nerves had left both eyes unable to see anything but a blur.

As I look back, this most horrible point in my disease is where I have learned the most about myself.

I was and still am a music teacher for a private school, teaching grades K-8. With the prying eyes of Middle School aged students and the receptive, loving gazes of my elementary school, I just couldn’t for one moment allow my true fears to emerge. Instead, I always had a joke, always had a smile, and always acted like everything was perfect. Even when a kindergartner came up to me saying, “Miss Jessica, my Grandma uses a cane too”, I just smiled, struck a pose, and laughed it off, even though the comparison made me sick to my stomach.

I felt so fake, like I was lying to everyone. Nobody but my husband knew what I was really facing as my true emotions came out at night after work. I was a brewery of fear and sadness, not knowing what would become of me.

I can say with certainty that it was my FAKING the happy exterior that finally made a difference. People would come up to me all the time telling me they couldn’t believe what I was going through and how I was able to cope with it in such a good way. They couldn’t believe I was working such hectic hours and keeping up my schedule while my body was failing me. It was from the responses of others that I realized I was doing the right thing by keeping up my typical fun nature, despite the horrors of what was happening.

I am left with so many things MS has taken from me, but through all of those years, I have learned not to dwell on the things taken from me, (like my eyesight), and instead focus on the strength and courage I’ve been able to take from my journey with MS.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • lougirl
    6 years ago

    Loved reading your story. I am currently blind in one eye due to optic neuritis and scared to death the same thing will happen to my other eye. It’s awesome to know that losing sight isn’t the worst thing in the world, even though in my head, it is! Keep up the positive attitude – it’s all we have to hang on to – and it’s awesome to inspire others.

  • Lisa Emrich moderator
    6 years ago


    I love reading your story! I admire you for continuing to do what you love (teaching music) in the face of fear and uncertainty. I am also a musician and teaching, but teaching private horn and piano lessons at home as well as performing. At the time I was diagnosed, my left hand/arm became weak and my 4th finger literally had zero muscle strength. It was frightening. It was the studio parents who were very supportive and encouraging to me at the time (and still are).

    It’s amazing how putting forth a smile and “fake” positivity can transform into real courage and strength. Thank you for sharing your story. I certainly related, as I’m sure others will as well.


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