Chick-Fil-A’s Cow Appreciation Day will always hold a special memory for me. That’s the day I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
The diagnosis didn’t set in with me that day. In fact, my mother-in-law turned it into a very special day for me. She took me and our three girls to a very nice resort for a few days so I could process the information while having had fun at the pool. We stopped at Chick-Fil-A on our way out of town to the resort.
A week after I was diagnosed, I began receiving treatments that were very hard on my body. There were many weeks during the first six months of treatment where became so weak I had a difficult time walking from our bedroom to our kitchen. Not only had reality set in, but it was much worse than I ever expected.
Many friends and family members helped in great ways over the next few months as I got adjusted to this new normal. Below are some of the most helpful things they did to help me through a very rough season.
Help with meals
We have three young girls, and it was very difficult for me to take care of them during this season. Some days I couldn’t get up to walk due to severe pain and weakness. My husband was working, taking care of me and our girls. It was very helpful when friends brought meals over. This relieved anxiety on my end, knowing my husband and kids were being taken care of. It also took some pressure and stress off my husband. The sweetest thing we received was homemade muffins from a 7-year-old boy from our neighborhood. He heard I was sick, made them and walked them over to our house one afternoon.
Having meals brought are not only very helpful, they also bring encouragement and joy when they are brought over. The best way to set up a system for friends and family to help a friend during a hard time is by making them a meal train. (www.mealtrain.com).
Help with light housework
Because I was very weak and in a lot of pain, I wasn’t able to do everyday things such as laundry, cook, pick up after the kids, or sweep and mop. My mother-in-law came over often and helped with laundry and some light cleaning. It was so helpful and appreciated. Otherwise, we were left searching for clean clothes from large laundry piles on our bedroom floor.
Mail encouraging cards
This is such a thoughtful gesture. We received so many cards, some from people we didn’t even know. These cards brought us so much joy and encouragement, knowing so many friends were praying for me and our family.
Send helpful information
Receiving an unexpected diagnosis can be mentally overwhelming. Lots of friends knew of websites we could visit to find helpful resources. Others had friends who were willing to share their MS experience. Because those initial days were so daunting, I initially felt too overwhelmed to reach out to other’s I didn’t know to ask about their experiences. Because MS can look different and progress at different rates for everyone, I was a little fearful about what others with MS might tell me regarding their symptoms and experiences.
My sister-in-law asked her friend with MS to send me an email with all her advice for me. This was one of the most helpful and thoughtful things I received. Her friend’s email was encouraging, informative, and full of what she had found helpful. Having an email sent was easier than setting up an introduction at the time.
Check in or visit
One of the hardest parts of that adjustment period was feeling as though life was moving on without me. Our church was in a very exciting stage of moving into a new building, and I wasn’t able to help or be part of most of it. However, I loved hearing about what was happening. It was very helpful for close friends or family to stop by and just talk for a while so I didn’t feel so isolated.
I hope you will find this list helpful! If you have a friend suffering from poor health, or you yourself are dealing with severe health issues, we would love to know any ideas and thoughts to add to this!