I am the Face of MS

Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already. - Dave Willis


I was dumbfounded by the negative comments concerning a picture of a young lady with Multiple Sclerosis on a support page I follow. The picture was posted by her mother and showed her in top form competing in a fitness competition. It had the caption “This is the face of MS.”

The picture, that was meant to encourage and give hope to others, became the target of hateful comments; perplexing, I know. While the picture seems to encapsulate a person in perfect health, nothing could be more far from the truth. Her daughter, who has been diagnosed with MS in her early teens, has had periods of great struggles, some leaving her confined to her bed. She was celebrating her personal joy with her daughter’s current period of thriving, through a trial medication and much hard work. Some people were upset thinking it was an unrealistic advertisement for a drug. Others were vocal with their resentment about the young lady as being labeled “The Face of MS”. Rather than rallying around her with encouragement and congratulatory offerings, it became quite ugly – to the point of being uncomfortable.

The truth of the matter is simply this. The beautiful, bikini-clad girl with the awesome toned and fit body is indeed the face of MS. Multiple Sclerosis has many faces; no two are exactly the same. Even amongst identical twins sharing the same disease it can present differently; still both are the face of MS. My neighbor, who is no longer able to work, rides around our neighborhood in his wheelchair, often with a grandbaby in his lap. He is the face of MS. My friend, who resided in a nursing home from the age of 47 until she succumbed to the effects of the disease at the age of 70, was the face of MS. Prior to the disease that made her a quadriplegic; she was an avid horseback rider and an educator that delighted in seeing her young students thrive.

I am a mother of three, married 29 years. I still work full time. I struggle at times and rely on a cane. Other times I am fine. My bladder is a typical MS bladder, according to my urologist. It has failed me to the point of embarrassment. It has made it impossible to leave the house at times because of the spasms that keep me in the bathroom. I have lost control in front of my children and had to wake my husband and tell him I needed to change our sheets. My legs and feet hurt so bad at times it's a struggle to walk on them. When I am in pain at night it comes on with a vengeance and I can't sleep. I paint on my face and fix my lips in a smile to face my work day. To look at me and not know me personally, in the absence of my cane, my disease is invisible.

My name is Karen and I am the face of MS.

Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on. - unknown


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