My sister, Randi, is five years older than me. We fought harder than any two sisters and we loved harder than any two sisters. We have been each other’s champions and loved to annoy each other. We laughed and put on shows in our living rooms and made some epic Barbie movies together. It may be a cliché to say my sister is my best friend, but she is. What happens to her, I feel deeply…
When I was seven, I had my tonsils taken out over Christmas break. It wasn’t fun, but I survived and being so young, I bounced right back. My sister found out just a few months later that she too would need to have her tonsils removed. She was 12. Before her surgery, she asked me how it felt when I had mine removed and if I had any advice? I remember distinctly telling her it wasn’t so bad. That she would get ice cream and eat soft foods like bread and she would be just fine. After her surgery, we walked into her hospital room and she glared at me from across the room, picked something up, hurled it at me and shouted “B*&#H, you lied!” She may have been a little off from the sedation, and we can totally laugh about it now, but at the time I remember feeling bad for not being able to prepare her for the pain.
I gave birth to a 5lb. 3 on. baby boy when I was just 16 years old. It was a natural birth, despite me begging for an epidural. Still, I survived. Even with pre-eclampsia I bounced right back and jumped into life just a few days later. And then, I gave birth via C-Section at the age of 24 to a much larger, 9 lb. 3 on, baby girl. I was considered a “pro” by the time my sister married and was expecting her first child. I remember her asking me what it was like… how each birth and delivery felt. What contractions were like? I did my best to thoroughly explain how I felt with each child and be as honest as I could without freaking her out too badly. My sister lived in New York at the time and I so wished we lived closer to each other so I could be there for the delivery. Moments after she welcomed her little girl into the world, she called me and jokingly yelled at me, saying I did not do a good job of describing the pain :). We laughed again about the tonsillectomies of our youth and shared the joy of a new baby to love.
Even though I am five years younger than my sister, I’ve often found myself in the position of going first and coaching her as she went through the same things. I wish it was all tonsillectomies and babies. God, I wish so bad that’s all it was.
On May 19, 2021, my sister let me know she was having a Brain MRI. She said she had been having blurred vision, random flashes of light, and numbness on one side of her body. We both told ourselves the MRI was probably precautionary and this could be explained away by migraines or hormones or pinched nerves or anything besides what we didn’t want it to be.
On May 20, 2021, my sister received her radiology report. A lesion was found. Multiple Sclerosis was suspected. A neurology follow up was recommended. And our family found ourselves in an all-too-familiar nightmare.
On Thursday, May 27, 2021, my sister had an appointment with my beloved neurologist who specializes in Multiple Sclerosis. She let her know in addition to suspected MS, she has a birth defect called Chiari Malformation. This defect doesn’t always cause issues, but is the cause of some of the symptoms she is currently experiencing.
As of right now, she’s waiting. Waiting for more tests. Waiting for answers. Waiting for official diagnosis’s. Waiting on treatment plans. And praying for healing.
When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I begged God to use this diagnosis for good. That if I could help one person, then it would all be worth it. As the years have gone by and the creation of this blog and the podcast and so many of you reaching out and me getting to pray for you, encourage and educate you, it’s filled my heart with so much joy. I just want to help people.
But lately, I’ve been ticked at God. When I prayed that I would get to encourage, educate, and help those who were dealing with neurological issues, I certainly never meant anyone in my family. He’s heard me scream, cry, seen me beat my steering wheel in anger as I’ve driven home from work… This should not be happening. My sister should not be sick. My mom should not be dealing with the fear of her two daughters facing neurological disease. THIS. IS. NOT. RIGHT.
But I’ve also been so grateful to God. I’m grateful that I got to go first. That I got to go to the horrible neurologist so I could find the best one and be able to give that recommendation to my sister. I’m thankful for the hours of research I’ve done and the knowledge I’ve gained on eating and exercise and disease modifying medications. I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made who also have MS or other neurological challenges who inspire me and others to keep HOPE. I’m thankful for the research that people way smarter than me have done. I’m thankful for a God who loves and listens and cares about every single thing we face.
So, would you join me in praying for my sister, Randi, and her family?
LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. – Psalm 30:2