Each year, members of CCBC’s Student Government Association (SGA) submit a list of charities and vote on one to be their main focus for the year. In the fall of 2012, SGA voted for Multiple Sclerosis. In addition to numerous fundraisers throughout the fall and spring semesters, SGA and student activities are holding an MS Walk on campus on May 4 to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one of the most commonly occurring chronic neurological diseases. MS affects the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord, and is thought to be caused by a disorder of the immune system.
Fran Siters, Staff Assistant, Student Activities at CCBC, knows two family members, her aunt and mother, with MS. She shares her personal story about being the caregiver to her mother, who was recently diagnosed.
What is the hardest thing about being a caregiver for someone with MS?
Sometimes I think the care giver has a harder time than the person with MS. One of the hardest parts of MS is the exhaustion and feeling like you are stuck in a broken body. When my mom is feeling bad, like a burden and invalid, all she can think of is how hard it must be for me and my sisters. She won’t ask for help because we can’t just ‘fix’ this. What a struggle.
What changes have you seen in your mother?
MS messes with every part of her life. She just simply does not feel good. She is tired and hurts all the time, and feels like an old woman. With MS, nothing gets better FAST. Sometimes, we will ask our mom, “Why are you so crabby?” She doesn’t even realize she is. It’s hard to see your mom lose her job, a lot of her driving privileges, and her cognitive ability. This once strong-willed, always right, bossy woman now feels extremely insecure, frustrated, inadequate, unlovable and a like burden. Then, we feel guilty.
Do you have any advice for other caregivers?
It is frustrating to all of us and affects each person differently, but when I think it’s getting tough for me, I stop and think about what it must be like for her. I can’t imagine what it would be like to tell myself to stand up and walk, and not be able to do it. Five years ago, she was a nurse, on her feet at least eight hours a day lifting and moving other adults. For those of you with MS who feel like you are burdens, DON’T! In my situation, when my Mom says that she’s a burden, it makes me feel even worse. That is that last thing I ever want her to worry about. The people who love you think about what it’s like to be in your shoes. I know I do. My mom is a complete inspiration to me and has shown me what true strength is. Thanks to her, I have more appreciation for the little things in life and have a better outlook on what REALLY matters.
We hope to see you and/or your family members at the CCBC SGA MS Walk on May 4! SGA is also glad to accept donations to support the National Multiple Sclerois Foundation. To date, SGA has raised slightly over $300 for Multiple Sclerosis research and treatment. Every bit helps in funding research for treatments and prevention methods.
– Amy McKissic, Publications Coordinator