What made it so difficult was not only that the times I was able to spend with her had become so few and far between, or the fact that she was now at the age of majority and I was coming to the realization that she was no longer my baby… but because something was wrong. Really wrong. And we had no idea what it was.
For a week or two prior to heading back she had been waking up every morning with an increasingly bad case of double vision, to the point where trying to compensate for it had begun to cause serious muscle spasms in one side of her face. Visits to emergency rooms, optometrists, chiropractors, you name it… rendered no answers. Finally she made the decision to wait until she got back to school where she could pay a visit to her physician who had, two years previously, falsely diagnosed her with Multiple Sclerosis following a bout with numbness in her legs (which miraculously disappeared just about as quickly as it had come). Needless to say this misdiagnosis had come as sheer relief to this ballerina (and family of) who’d been dancing since age three and well, who basically lived to dance.
But anyway, fast forward to the summer of '05.
Not only did she face the challenge of going back to school, but had arranged the purchase of a car which she had planned to pick up at the airport of her destination city in order to drive back up to school. She was in no condition to do this. So a friend of hers, who we'll call "Aaron"... (Okay, so that's his real name) offered to meet her at the airport and do the driving for her. This was the first time I'd ever heard about this "knight in shining armor"... and in retrospect, didn't realize at the time just how genuine that title would become.
In subsequent days he also took on the hour drive to see her back and forth from the doctor, who was finally able to confirm with rested assurety that our girl did, unmistakably, have MS.
I suppose the first vision one has when one receive this type of news is of a future filled with wheelchairs and walkers and the inability to lead the ultimately productive life... and in cases where this disease remains undiagnosed or untreated this could become true... but there are many options available to help stave off the reoccurance or progression with much research being done to make those treatments less cumbersome. If you're interested in finding out more or learning about ways to help in finding a cure, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a wonderful website.
Whitney now gives herself weekly injections of the drug Avonex, and though not the ideal Friday night date activity (Friday nights work best for her due to the side-effects), Aaron has always been there with her... every single time. (Though, from what I understand, their first Friday night date squicked him out a lil' bit.) But now they are both handling it like a couple of champs.
Whitney and Aaron were married on May 6th 2006...
This montage, which I promised to make for them quite a while ago, is long overdue.
Whitney and Aaron will be walking for a cure on May 19th 2007.