May 2, 2010
LIMA — Think of a potluck, making your way through the line, lifting casserole lids and not being quite sure what’s ended up on your plate.
That’s how people with Multiple Sclerosis start each day, not knowing what symptoms from the buffet will greet them, nor how they’ll be affected.
Here is a list from Colleen Miller, diagnosed in 2005: At times she’s used a wheelchair and a walker. She now uses a catheter after she lost control of her bladder. Hearing aids in both ears, stiffness in her legs, a loss of short-term memory and attention span.
Despite many days not wanting to get off the couch, Miller and others, many also diagnosed with MS, created a new nonprofit, FACE MS. Friends, Family and Caregivers Ease Multiple Sclerosis helps with medical co-pays, school and home expenses, home modifications for handicap access and medical appointment rides.
The group, founded by husband and wife Amy and Chuck Hendricks, achieved its federal nonprofit status in October 2009. The group held its first fundraiser, a golf outing, Sunday.
Amy Hendricks received her MS diagnosis also in 2005. Hendricks has many cognitive symptoms that are improved with medication. Her physical symptoms began with numbness and tingling in a finger. Now her whole left arm is affected and it’s beginning in her leg.
Chuck Hendricks, a truck driver, likes to help people, his wife said.
“It’s his favorite thing,” Amy Hendricks said. “He said, ‘I wonder what one little guy like me could do?’ He started working on a nonprofit.”
Members know what it’s like to need money for rent, and can also just talk to someone about symptoms and feelings, said Marketing Director Heather Fixx, who also has MS.
The disease frustrates, because symptoms differ by the day and they rob you of things, Miller, a FACE MS trustee, said. Miller will put something in the pan for dinner, and forget to turn it on, or turn the washer on without any clothes.
“I have a college degree. I was on the dean’s list. Now sometimes I have to ask my 10-year-old daughter how to spell a word because my mind is not with me,” Miller said. “I get really, really angered and want to throw things because I’m not the same any more. I’m not me.”
Members draw strength from each other, and from knowing they’re putting their own experiences to a better use.
“When you’re first diagnosed, you don’t know what it is,” Amy Hendricks said. “We want to let people know there are people who do want to help them.”
Find out more about FACE MS at www.facems.org, the group’s Facebook page or by calling 567-712-7385.