Love conquers all!
Love conquers all!
I was diagnosed in 1986 with MS. In 1980, after my first year attending graduate school in Bloomington, IN, I returned to my home town Pittsburgh, PA where my fiancé was graduating with honors from Duquesne University with a BS in Music Education and then we were married right afterward. Kathy and I lived in married student housing. Kathy intended to work on her graduate degree at the Indiana University music school but there were no assistantships there like I had received from the School of Chemistry. So Kathy took a job in the admissions office at Indiana University which she help, while typing my entire thesis for me, until I completed my PhD in chemistry in 1984. I was very fortunate since I had to select between job offers from Monsanto, Upjohn, and Eli Lilly and after Kathy and I went to visit each location we decided to accept the offer from Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, IN.
After we had moved from Bloomington to Indianapolis, Indiana, and a career teaching music in public secondary schools looked bleak at best, my wife, Kathy, decided to pursue an MBA at Indiana University while taking substitute teaching opportunities, and becoming a certified Jazzercise instructor and teaching classes at various places in Indianapolis. After she received her MBA Kathy began working as an office manager for a locally based GeoTech company that had offices throughout the Midwest and was expanding east. Kathy and I became great friends with her boss, his wife and their teen age children. Kathy was traveling with her boss to all the company offices throughout the Midwest and was adding an extraordinary ability to organize the administration side of the business.
I was fortunate to begin working in the Biosynthetic Development department in 1984 where they had already created the manufacturing process for human insulin created using molecular biology and human growth hormone as well. But then in 1986 I would come home absolutely exhausted and I had been losing weight for no reason at all, so Kathy told me I should see a doctor. My primary care physician told me to see a neurologist because he thought I either had a brain tumor or multiple sclerosis. After they had analyzed my spinal fluid and looked at the MRI of my brain they gave me the multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Well at least I wasn’t going to die from a brain tumor we thought.
I did not tell management of my diagnosis and just used all kinds of methods to deal with the fact that I was losing my ability to solve complex problems quickly or to remember anything unless I wrote it down. I led the development of a few protein purification processes from lab bench to pilot plant and into production over the next thirteen years. I was promoted to Research Scientist in 1992.
In roughly 1998 the company Kathy was working for was sold and she was asked to leave. So she found a job with a small college in Indianapolis.
Then in my 1999 performance review before senior management, in which one is asked to deliver a seminar describing their groups efforts and accomplishments over the past year, and, answer questions posed by senior management, I was unable to answer a simple question because of a memory lapse and brain fog prevented me from even realizing that the answer was in the slides that were part of my seminar. Needless to say I was told later that it had severely compromised management’s review of the research program I was leading, so that’s when I told management that I had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis almost fourteen years ago. So management told me to use the next few months to close my lab notebooks, stop working in the lab and stop leading a research program, and then I would have to leave employment with Eli Lilly and Co. and receive short term disability for several months at roughly 75% pay followed by long term disability at roughly 50% pay until I was of retirement age and I would then receive retirement pay.
I remained house husband while Kathy and I remained in Indianapolis. Then since Kathy’s father had heart surgery in Pittsburgh and we were both very close with her mom and dad we decided to move back to Pittsburgh, PA. Kathy immediately found employment with a university and I decided to try to start my own consulting business. However, I was unable to continue driving and my stamina for starting my business was not enough to make it work. We finally convinced Kathy’s Mom and Dad to move in with us. Then her Mom had a stroke when they were with us so Kathy had her immediately taken to the emergency room. Since she received immediate treatment the stroke only left her with severe hearing loss for which we got her a hearing aid, and a bit of a limp, for which we got her a cane like the one I was using. We were blessed to have been there when she had her stroke since her Dad just thought she was having a bad Charlie horse.
Kathy had already had experience with getting me to the hospital quickly since I had put her through the experience of me waking her up with my blabbering and spitting blood since I had bit my tongue while I was having a grand mal seizure. Since my second grand mal seizure I have been faithfully taking Lyrica and haven’t experienced another.
Kathy supported me with my efforts to get a consulting business started for ten years before we finally dissolved the company the end of 2012. I had learned quite a bit by 2012 and had stored the information in a database on my computer. So in 2013 I began writing a book which I currently title Shepherd Life By Sharing Knowledge(Sustain Commerce, Humanity and Life by Exchanging Knowledge) Subtitle comment: Commerce, Humanity and Life Can No Longer Be Sustained By The Purchase Of Intellectual Property To Sustainably Satisfying the Basic Human Needs Market Demand. I have completed the first edits of an Introduction and eighteen chapters. The Introduction and first four chapters have been reviewed by my friend who is a professor in the business school at the University of Pittsburgh and so the final edits are complete for those parts of the book. I’m in the process of polishing the first edits of the remaining chapter enough to send to my friend for their final review.
Kathy has also helped me by driving me and encouraging me to take physical therapy to help me learn how to walk without tripping myself.
Kathy and I will be married 34 years this May 2014 which she tells people we know with the follow-up comment, “six of the best months of her life” hee, hee. :) Since Kathy and I love each other so much we keep each other from getting too depressed, and, I still want to be here to continue to help Kathy the best I can because she has loved me so much as displayed by her incredible strength and determination to help me.
In fact, since returning to Pittsburgh, PA Kathy and I have become involved with supporting the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, PSO, by first attending events organized by the Friends of the PSO. The Friends of the PSO is really a PSO fan club that gets together to hear guest artists and members of the PSO speak with the group several times a year. Now we are co-chairs of the Friends of the PSO and have made lots of friends through that group.
Kathy and I are also on the board of the Penn State Alumni Association, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, my undergrad alma mater is PSU. With that group we have football and now hockey game watch events and have made some of our best friends. We both also try to stay involved with the Indiana University Alumni Association Pittsburgh Chapter.
Anyway, we have both been through both good and tough times ever since way back in 1974 when we were both in our high school band together and had just started dating.
That’s why I entitled my story for multiple sclerosis.net ‘Love Conquers All!’
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?