Worst Days Ever Have Silver Linings Too

I should preface this story with a little history on myself. I served in the US Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. In 2009 I was assigned to working with the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) as a Liaison. It was my job to see patients on a daily basis and coordinate with their families. In many situations, I experienced tears from family members crying and I was their rock and liaison to the Military as a whole that we would do everything possible to make things better. It was a 12 hour shift, but possibly one of the more rewarding posts I had been given as I felt I was making a difference.

In 2009, I began to have terrible back pain, crippling bouts of fatigue. At the same time, my left hand went numb and my vision began to act funny. I hadn’t the slightest idea what was going on, attributing them to separate sources, mainly from my physical fitness regime and the long hours of work. After six months with no relief from my symptoms and the numb feeling now appearing in several other areas I spoke to one of the Emergency Room Doctors who served in the Naval Reserves and he told me I should get an MRI, but he didn’t tell me why.

I spoke to my primary physician the next day, who received a call from the ER doctor and that day I had an MRI done, from stem on down. Two days passed and I was called back in, a panel of co-workers (Doctors I worked with due to the nature of my position), was sat down and told I was going to be admitted to the hospital so they could run more tests. They told a plethora of diseases I had heard of but not familiar with, MS being one of them. Three days later, in my hospital bed, the same group came in and told me I had MS. They showed me my MRI and the sheer number of lesions they pointed out, active and non-active indicated I had MS for some time, but only recently had the symptoms become so apparent that I had not been able to ignore them.

Now, one might think that was the worst day ever, or the day I was told I was being medically discharged from the Navy due to my condition. It’s true, my life changed when they told me I was no longer fit to serve my country, but I could understand why, by the time they decided to discharge me, my bodies ability to regulate it’s internal temperature had failed, and even with pain management, the inability to regulate my core temp meant I was unable to be deployed. It was a big change, but I went home from work, looking to my wife for some emotional support.

Now my wife is not in the medical field, she had beared through all this with me, most of it with me explaining everything that was happening from a medical and military perspective. When I told her what was happening with the discharge, I knew it would hit her hard, I had done my best in the past to prepare her for the possibility the Navy would choose this path. At that moment, I was very vulnerable as well, my world had started to crumble and what I needed was someone to hold me and tell me it’s going to be alright, and I thought that was what I was going to get.

It wasn’t. I don’t feel the need to stumble on her exact words, but when all was said and done, I felt… I don’t know if their are words that express how angry and worthless I felt. I remember tears, and a feeling of betrayal and five years of marriage and love being wiped clean like a dry erase board. Then I remember my son, hugging my leg and telling me that he loved me, his big smile and bright blue eyes.

Three years have passed, his mother and I are no longer together, but every time I hit a low point, when my symptoms seem to be getting the better of me, I look at my son, and I find the strength to carry on.

Sorry for the randomness of this post, but I heard that writing things down helps the emotional process, and despite having to reliving some of the worst times I have had, it does feel good getting it off my chest. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

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Comments

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  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    5 years ago

    And thank you for serving our country, particulary in the Navy. My father (92 and still with us) is a WWII vet from the Navy.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    5 years ago

    thank you so much for sharing your experience(s) with MS. you are so right – we can face this type of news and find a way to get on with our lives, but we all know it is so much easier if we have someone to share the journey with. I am sorry your partner at that time was not up for the task. Facing the diagnosis of a chronic disease is tough for everyone, the person with the disease and the people in the family. It will test the strength of the individual and the relationships.

    Unfortunately her inability to stand by you and the unknowns that come with living with MS, is an all too common story, but that doesn’t make it any less painful for you. Keep that son close, and continue to provide him with the excellent role model. He can learn so much from you and how to live when life doesn’t hand us that perfect story.

    I hope you will stay in touch via this site – best, Laura

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