I’m a Nanna and I have MS

Retha Sisler
Written by
Retha Sisler

“Nanna, Nanna, come quickly!” Sylvia, my 5 year old granddaughter, called.

I went outside to discover a beautiful black and yellow butterfly fluttering through our garden, near our lemon tree.

“Please catch it for me,” Sylvia said.

“I wish I could, but Nanna really cannot run or jump today, my legs are very sore.”

She leaned into me, “It’s okay Nanna, maybe next time.”

We watched the butterfly for a few minutes, and then Sylvia merrily carried along, picking up leaves and little flowers all over the garden.

There was one time that Lady Luck smiled down upon us and I actually caught a butterfly with my hands. I gave it to Sylvia to hold for a second before we set it free. Sylvia understands that there are times when, even if I wanted to do something with her, I really cannot. She also knows if I could, I would.

Playing with grandchildren while living with multiple sclerosis is not always easy - try sitting cross legged playing on the floor for a long time and then getting up. Between Sylvia and Franco, my one year old grandson, I have had ample time to perfect my skills - first rock, then roll, and eventually up from all fours. It might not look very elegant, but at least it works! Franco is getting rather heavy now, so to make it easier for me when he visits, I do everything - from changing nappies to feeding - on the floor. On the plus side, all the time I spend with the kids really keeps me in shape. I am sure my ball skills are also going to improve once Franco is a little older.

I make a point to go to the stables with my daughter and the kids at least once a week. Sylvia loves horses and is getting very good at riding and caring for her horse. I used to be scared of horses after a bad fall many years ago, but now I am comfortable going close enough to touch them. Sometimes I just sit and watch the horses and other stable animals. It is very peaceful. This relaxing hour or two is enough time for me to feel mentally refreshed and recharged.

I don’t believe it is necessary to discuss my MS in depth with my grandchildren. Over time, Sylvia has come to understand pain. She also knows how it feels to be tired; therefore she understands when I cannot do something because of MS. My daughter and I agree that when the children are older we will mention more about my MS to them, but only what is necessary. Just like how my daughter dealt with my MS, the kids will do their own research when they are older and decide what more they want to know.

My grandchildren bring so much joy into my life. I consider myself blessed to be able to be part of their everyday experiences and watch them grow into who they will be as adults, and I choose not to let my MS affect that.

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