In 1982 Martin heard for the first time that he was possibly suffering from MS, when he told the doctor that he was seeing double. His symptoms disappeared after a year and the doctors told him that an old scar in his head also could be the cause of his symptoms. In 1993 his wife Ann suddenly suffered from a tingling feeling in her legs and in her back.
The pain got worse and within sixteen days in was clear that she was suffering from an aggressive form of MS. Not very long after that she had to start using a wheelchair. Two years later Martin started to show symptoms again and went for a thorough check-up. He also was diagnosed with MS.
Ann isn’t afraid for the future, even though she has every reason to be so. Just as her husband she is suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a decease that causes you to loose body functions. In the future things will only get more difficult, but Ann isn’t worried about it. ‘I always return to the spring of life, to God, because I can’t go on by my own strength. Every day of my life is in His hands’.
It’s hard to imagine how Ann, a 48 year old woman, can speak about her disease and future so calmly. The last few years haven’t been easy. Sometimes her body was so weak that she had to stay in bed for weeks. Even though she’s doing quite well right now, she’s still confined to her electronic wheelchair.
When you look at Martin (46) you can’t see from the outside that he has MS. During the periods his wife was very ill he tried to take care of her. But that was too demanding. ‘I’m tired very often’, he tells. ‘Because of that we have to depend on the help of others every day.’
Ann explains that her faith in God makes it possible for her to cope with her illness. ‘I always loved God. When I was going through very difficult time, I felt that He was very close to me. Of course it was a struggle sometimes. But when I was so very ill, it was like He was carrying me through my pain.’ Nevertheless Ann sometimes wondered why she was confronted with pain. ‘I had just started a new study, a part-time degree in teaching at Primary School level. I was getting good grades and then I was diagnosed with MS! I didn’t understand that. But I’ve always continued to pray. God’s plans are sometimes different from my own.
Ann started to realise that God could use her, with her disease, to help others. ‘During the periods I had to stay in bed many people came to me and told me their problems. I listened to them and helped them’, she tells. ‘I also visit Primary Schools regularly to tell children about MS and about my faith.’
Ann believes that God has given her new tasks. ‘My life is still meaningful, even though I’m in a wheelchair. Of course I’m not glad that I’m not able to walk any more. I’m sad about that, and about the fact that pain will stay. But I let go of it and I give it to God.’
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