Friend or Foe?

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:16-18)

So easy to read this verse and pass, but when MS knocks at one’s door, the verse gets a life-meaning.
MS knocked my door when I was 21. I had double vision in one eye. The doctor told me I was very thin, while still another said it was a virus.

I lost two years with this wrong diagnosis. However, God directed my path to a neurologist. I never imagined I needed a neurologist. After a lumbar puncture, the doctor stated “It’s Multiple Sclerosis/MS”. My MS started as remitting-relapsing, i.e. the attack comes and goes.

Multiple sclerosis is a Latin word meaning many scars.
• It affects people between the ages of 20 till40; more common in women than men.
• It’s an autoimmune disease; it attacks the central nervous system.
• The reason is not known yet. It has no cure. It doesn’t kill, but it doesn’t leave.
• As the different nerves get scars, several functions are affected: vision, numbness, loss of coordination in hands and feet, loss of balance, urinary problems, loss of feeling, trembling… Note: I have had these losses, but each MS patient is unique.

I was living with the conventional injections and a cane. During this time, it was by His grace that He directed me to where I work, the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union. There I learned that a person’s worth is not in his physical ability/disability, and people with disabilities have the right to live and be included in society. I have also learned to accept people helping me out, but still keeping my independence.

In the last relapse of January 09, I lost my walking ability, balance, feelings in my legs, “normal” vision, and other losses (which I prefer not to dwell on them). My MS, (as is the case sometimes) changed from remitting-relapsing to secondary progressive (the attack came and it doesn’t go, and disability progresses).
Since the conventional medications weren’t working for me, I started an aggressive immunity modulator drugs used for Cancer. This massacred my white blood cells so they will stop their attacks. My hope is in God now, hoping the new born white blood cells won’t remember what their ancestors were doing!

Of course during these 9 years, many have come with pictures of saints and various prayers. But when we pray the Lord’s Prayer “Let your will be done”, then let it be. I’m blamed that I do not have faith, but I think having faith is accepting MS thankfully.

In the end, I thank God for His Living Word, for my family, who support me, for the work colleagues, and I thank God for the church.

I hang on to the verse 2 Cor. 4:16-18. This is faith where one can see Jesus Christ in one’s troubles and be certain of the unseen things.

P.S. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, for awareness needs to be raised on this issue. If you someone who has this disease, then let us form support groups.

In the end, it’s a friend I guess!

Salpy Degirmedjian