When my doctor first told that M.S. was a possible diagnosis in October 2007, I only told my immediate family. The 5 of us were hopeful that more tests would rule out M.S. and that I would have a different condition when a final diagnosis was given.
I think partly I didn't widely disclose my problems because I didn't have a medical explanation for the symptoms I was experiencing. I didn't want to worry people until I knew how to fix whatever was wrong. Additionally, at that time I considered my symptoms to be temporary, nothing that I needed to concern anybody else with.
After more extensive testing and a brief stay in the hospital, I was given the M.S. diagnosis the week before Thanksgiving 2007. The time came to inform my friends and extended family of what was going on. I knew I had to tell people, but I didn't know how to do it. How do you tell people that you have known for your entire life that you have a life-long illness with such a stigma attached to it? How will they react?
Bad news can cause us to run a gamut of emotions. What made telling people about my M.S. so difficult was dealing with various emotional reactions to the news. My friends and family demonstrated shock, fear, sadness, love, perseverance, compassion, disbelief and just about any other feeling that one can experience upon hearing such news.
Friends whom I had not spoken with in over 10 years called me upon hearing. Family members from all over the country (and even Canada) just wanted to talk with me and express their feelings when they first heard. One of the most difficult times in my life was met with so much love and an outpouring of emotion that it was incredibly overwhelming.
Although sharing the news about my condition was an extremely tough thing to do, I was blown away by people's reactions. It is simply amazing at what the human soul is capable of feeling for another person. I feel so much more empowered knowing that I have a huge team of supporters that are right there fighting with me. One man's struggle became a rallying point for dozens of others.