My sister is an inspiration! She has been through a lot in her life, and I will not give you her entire life story. I want to focus on what has made her such an inspiration. Her strength, persistence, and faith kicked in just in time to see her through one of the most challenging diseases so many suffer from, MS.
For those of you who don’t know what MS stands for, Multiple Sclerosis. It’s a fucked up disease with no cure. Just a bunch of Hail Mary meds to help reduce the symptoms. Most of the medication options have some serious side effects that made my stomach turn just looking at them.
I remember I was on my honeymoon ten years ago when my dad called me to tell me that my sister Denise was in the hospital. I stayed calm as I listened to my dad because my dad was freaking out. After all, they had no idea what was wrong with her. All they knew was that she couldn’t move one side of her body.
Whenever shit hits the fan, my mind automatically defaults to get it done mode. Find out the facts and make to-do lists. It was time to go home. When this happened, my sister and I weren’t exactly on the best of terms, but I loved her, so I got my ass home ASAP.
Walking into that hospital room and seeing her, the fear and dread that washed over me stopped me in my tracks. This pain in my ass was sitting in a hospital room eating a banana. She looked like shit. Understand my sister is beautiful, but no one sitting in a hospital bed unable to use one side of their body looks good. It wasn’t like in the movies where hair and makeup are all done, and the patient seems like she just stepped off a runway. It was real life.
It was the first time I saw her look scared. That tough, I don’t give a fuck attitude was crumbling because no one knew what the future would hold until the tests came back. The doctors thought there was a growth in her brain because they saw something on the MRI. Her brain on the MRI lit up like a Christmas tree, and anything with the brain was serious.
When the doctor finally came in, he announced that she had MS, which was a big sigh of relief because we have dealt with MS in our family already. All I could think was, at least it wasn’t a tumor or brain cancer. What I failed to remember at that moment was what MS does to your body. We watched our aunt struggle with it and somehow learned to live with it. I learned later that there are different types of MS, and my sister has RRMS (Relapsing-remitting MS). According to healthline.com, it is the most common type.
What it’s Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body.
Thank you, Mayo Clinic. I know what it is but couldn’t find the words to describe it.
I want to make it known that this is not about the disease. It is about a woman that took the illness and didn’t let it define her. She is a mother, a wife, and a complete badass. What she was about to go through was a challenging journey that changed her perspective on life and made her the inspiration she is today. She had two options: fight or be defeated.
She decided to fight and chooses to fight every day because MS is something she has, not who she is. There is a difference when you are diagnosed with an incurable disease. You can let it be everything you are and limit yourself to the boundaries of what the disease says. Or you can make a decision that you are going to defy the odds and live your life to the fullest.
As time went on, our relationship grew stronger, and I started seeing her differently. She was relentless even when she had what I like to call an episode. Everyone kept telling her about her limits and “to take it easy” because we didn’t want to see her go through another episode. That is when this woman got quiet. She didn’t call us if she had to go to the hospital for an episode. She pushed through it. She married a man that understands, supports, and loves her crazy ass.
During this time, she started working on her emotional, mental and physical health. During her silence, she decided she wanted to go into construction, not just any construction demolition. I looked at her like she was nuts. I was going to have to check her into an institution. There was no way that her body could handle the physical demand of a demo worker. At least not with MS, and I had no problem pointing that out to her.
She ignored me and everybody else and passed one test after another to enter the Labors Union 79. That is when I knew she would be unstoppable that no matter the circumstances or how many times she had an episode, she was going to push through it.
My Sister is an Inspiration
She didn’t stop there. My sister learned to respond instead of react to life and every curveball thrown her way. Her husband got into a terrible car accident a few years ago that had him laid up in bed for a long time. She fought to get him the care he needed and took care of him while he recovered.
Denise is the kind of person who likes to take care of everything on her own. She never asks for help, always wanting to do it all independently. The only problem with that was is that her partner in crime was bedridden because he fucked up his leg in the accident.
My sister didn’t realize or acknowledge that stress would trigger her MS and stop her dead in her tracks. Before she knew it she was back in the hospital. The only reason I found out was that I was in the neighborhood and called to check in. It turns out that she just got home from the hospital.
I started to lecture her because she didn’t call, and that is when she said something that made me realize that she doesn’t tell me everything. She said, “If I called you every time I had to go to the hospital you would never be able to live your life”. I didn’t realize how often MS has landed her in a hospital as it dawned on me that she put on a brave face for everyone else’s sake.
Although I was upset because she is my sister and I wanted to be there to help her, when I got to the house I realized the reason she left me out of it. She was sitting in bed hooked up to an IV. I like to consider myself a strong person, but seeing her so weak brought tears to my eyes. Her concern immediately shifted to me. She needed to concentrate on herself not me so I pulled my shit together and cracked a joke on her husband to lighten the mood.
She asked if I was OK, I nodded and started fussing over her like a mother hen. I asked why she wasn’t in the hospital. She said they had a home nurse and her husband learned how to take care of the IV so there was no need to stay in the hospital. I knew she was in good hands because her husband put his pain aside to care for her. He smiled and made fun of her as if this was completely normal. So I put my fears aside and did everything I could to make her laugh.
After that day I started calling more often and she was on the mend and would be back to work in a few months. I honestly wanted her to quit construction, but she said no. She loved her job and worked hard to get into the union. I couldn’t blame her because she had to work twice as hard as everyone else because of MS. I backed off and told her to maybe just not push her body past its limits. If she heard anything I was saying I doubt it. My sister was determined to follow her dream, so who was I to stop her.
It’s been a few years since then and if you asked me how many times she has been in the hospital since then I wouldn’t be able to tell you. She keeps it to herself because that is just part of it. What I can say is that she never dwells on it for long. Her perspective is filled with faith, love, motivation, and goals.
A few months ago we were talking on the phone and she said that she did something that she has wanted to do for a long time. I knew it had something to do with her MS. My sister can walk even though sometimes she limps a little because of MS. It depends on the day anyway back to the story.
Excitedly, she said she ran for the first time, it was a small distance in her work boots, but she did it. I was so proud of her for accomplishing a goal that meant so much to her. Then she immediately downplayed it feeling embarrassed because something so simple that we take for granted every day was a huge deal for her.
I corrected her immediately it wasn’t stupid it was a milestone that she desperately wanted to reach. She did it and I could care less if she ran a mile or 5 feet. The point was she did it. She ran for the first time in a long time. This was huge. I cheered and told her how amazing she was. There is nothing she couldn’t do, she could do anything. All she needs to do is believe it is possible and have faith that it will happen.
I did ask her to be careful and not to overdo it, but that is just me being a worrywart.
My sister is an inspiration for more than just taking the “you can’t” and turning them into “I can” she is savage like that. She still has the I don’t give a fuck attitude but it is more geared towards people’s limiting beliefs and ignorance. She has lifted me up more than once these past few years as I felt my world crumbling for so many different reasons.
My sister has supported me through storms I would’ve never been able to weather alone. Her words and wisdom inspire me every day. Although we don’t talk every day I can just jump on Facebook and see her posts. Those alone can lift my spirits if I am having a bad day because I know the story behind those inspiring posts.
It has been a hard journey, but it has brought us closer and has made us stronger. My sister is my confidant, my friend, and someone I admire. Her strength, belief, and courage showed me that we shape our own lives and pave our own paths. It is one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. Never take for granted what you have and never let limitations hold you back.
If you want to read more about my life you can find take a look at My Journey. There is so much more to come so don’t forget to subscribe to the weekly newsletter.