Father Had MS
Since Lynn was a teen, he’s known that someday Multiple Sclerosis might lie ahead; however, he refused to acknowledge that possibility; until there was no other choice. During his teen years, Lynn’s Dad, Buddy, began to have trouble walking, frequently stumbling. Soon his condition progressed to requiring a wheelchair, and he eventually remained bedridden most of the time. He died when he was 49 of complications from Multiple Sclerosis. Lynn was in his early twenties at the time.
Lynn watched his dad deteriorate from a robust, healthy man to a depressed invalid unable to do anything for himself. He vowed that would not be him. He exercised, ate healthily, kept abreast of the latest information on health trends, and generally took good care of himself, except for a few habits he couldn’t break. Lynn smoked cigarettes all the time and loved his beer. He also worked in a fabrication shop, so he was around paints, solvents, glues, arsenic, and other hazardous chemicals. His good habits were probably not as protective as his bad habits were contributors as risk factors to developing MS.
First Symptoms of MS
When Lynn and I met, he was healthy, fit, and strong, regularly playing music and singing. However, he was confident he would never have MS, so the topic was off-limits.
When Lynn first started having potential symptoms, he refused to consider it might be MS. Since the symptoms disappeared after resting, he was confident he was correct. However, his foot drop kept returning even with physical therapy.
Then, he developed a limp. His doctor thought it was sciatica due to sitting on his billfold. He saw a chiropractor and a physical therapist, but the limp continued. New problems surfaced, such as difficulty passing his urine and heat intolerance, but he rationalized each with an explanation other than MS.
Finally, one day I caught him comparing his ability to wiggle the fingers of his left and right hands. Watching as he wiggled his fingers, it was easy to see a significant difference in how they moved. He tried to explain it away, but I refused to listen. I told him I wanted him to see a neurologist as soon as he could get an appointment, and I was going with him.
Testing to Confirm Diagnosis
Reluctantly, he agreed to go and have an MRI, lumbar puncture, and lab work. But, unfortunately, all the tests confirmed the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. He had multiple lesions on his brain and spinal cord, plus his lab work showed markers of MS.
After learning of the diagnosis, he started treatment with a neurologist conducting MS research. The neurologist explained the research, and Lynn agreed to participate. He asked if Lynn would participate, and he agreed. The grant paid for his medication in exchange for his participation. The study compared the effectiveness of using two MS drugs together versus one alone. Neither he nor the doctor would know if he was taking one or two drugs.
Unfortunately, Lynn’s condition continued to progress. His neurologist determined that of the four types of MS, he likely had primary progressive. His loss of function steadily advanced as he changed from limping to using a walker, a wheelchair, and a powerchair. His voluntary motor abilities are very limited at this point. Though he can move his legs slightly, he cannot position or use them for weight-bearing. His right hand has movement but cannot be used to perform tasks. He can move his left arm more and, on good days, may be able to hold a large pencil and write. However, it isn’t easy to read.
In addition to mobility issues, MS has affected Lynn in other ways. He has a neurogenic bladder preventing his voluntary release of urine without being catheterized. Furthermore, weakened abdominal muscles impact his ability to evacuate his bowels requiring a strict bowel regimen and daily assistance to have a bowel movement. The weakened torso muscles also impact breathing because his chest and diaphragm muscles sometimes have difficulty clearing lung secretions. Lynn uses singing as his method to improve his diaphragm strength and improve his breathing. It’s an excellent method.
Besides dealing with MS, Lynn has other medical conditions complicating matters at times. He has hypothyroidism, vascular dermatitis, and high blood pressure. We shouldn’t forget his mitral valve prolapse, which requires regular monitoring. Periodically the regurgitation from the valve allowing too much backflow of blood requires some intervention. Last time, a cardiologist applied a clip to the heart valve. One day the heart might require a valve replacement. Open heart surgery could be hard for Lynn to survive if his lungs were not in the best shape at the time of surgery.
Coping with Change
Learning to cope with the idea of having MS was difficult for Lynn. He told me that after the doctor confirmed the diagnosis, he didn’t want to discuss it. He would do what he had to do to keep himself healthy, but he would not read any literature, watch any learning channels or discuss it further. Instead, he wanted me to handle all the information processing required and tell him the key points. He has maintained that way of coping ever since.
The year Lynn discovered he had MS was full of major changes and hard news for us. Lynn received the news about MS by phone as we were returning from an anniversary weekend at the beach, where his symptoms of MS had been obvious. A hurricane hit our region days later, knocking out power for several days and stirring up tornados. One of those tornados sent a tree into the front window of our car and right on through the back. When I called Lynn to inform him about the car, he, too, had bad news. According to his supervisor, his department probably had less than a year left before it would close. They expected a manager to tell them when it would happen and how much severance they could expect.
Eight months later, when the shop closed, he tried to start a drafting business working from home. But, unfortunately, with the economy diving, so did construction, and his business failed to develop.
Meanwhile, he continued to build a new home on the property we bought before his diagnosis. The foundation was in, and the walls were going up, but as his condition progressed, it became more difficult for him working alone to lay blocks and do any of the work. Finally, with the stonework and foundation complete, he stopped. His dream of building the timber frame house he designed had gone as far as he could take it. He had to say goodbye to another dream.
Discovering a New Career
Bit by bit, Lynn was losing his ability to engage in all things he enjoyed. One of his greatest joys was singing in the choir and playing drums in the church praise band. He had to stop playing drums when he could not control the sticks and, eventually, stopped singing when he became too fatigued during programs to sing. It was also around that time that he had to stop driving because his muscle spasms were so extreme he could not control the brakes or gas if a spasm occurred while the car was in motion. He was becoming depressed. He had a creative spirit and wanted to contribute to life. He needed something to do.
His son came up with an idea for him to try writing. He could still type, though not fast, but he could use one hand. So he decided to try it and found that he liked to write. The idea for a story came to mind, and he started to write. After four months, he had written his first novel, Rising Tide (published in April 2009; re-released January 2023). Since then, he has published three other books, two from the Rising Tide series (Eden’s Wake and Deadly Reign.) and one independent novel (Terminal Core). His fifth book should be released in 2023 (Dalon Con).
From the challenges of MS, Lynn chose to make lemonade out of lemons. He says he feels God’s blessing in his life every day and knows that God still has much for him to do. He now uses his creativity to spread the news of God’s love through the stories in his novels. As you read his stories, you’ll see the thread of good triumphing over evil through the power of the Mighty One as Lynn shares through his characters how his faith has helped him meet the challenges of his life.