Little"white clouds" partially blocked the vision in my left Deye as I woke up that Sabbath morning in December 1984. I figured the "clouds" would go away after awhile. They did, but little did I know what I would have to go through first! Playing the organ in church that morning, I was thankful that I knew the songs by heart because those crazy "clouds" kept getting in the way!
By Monday morning they hadn't disappeared so I went to an eye specialist. I was surprised how quickly he gave me an appointment when I described my problem. He tested my eye from every possible angle and put it through every possible test. Then all he said was that the optical nerve was inflamed and he wanted me admitted to the hospital that afternoon for further tests.
I protested that the next day was Christmas and no one would be doing any more work than absolutely necessary. So he agreed—on the condition that I spend the time lying flat on my back. That wasn't really difficult since we were going to my in-laws' home, and my mother-in-law loves to spoil me anyway.
On the 26th I entered the hospital for ten days of heavy medication and various tests, including a CAT scan and a spinal tap. really felt a little foolish because I wasn't sick; I didn't even have a headache. When people asked, "What's wrong with you?" all I could say was, "I don't know. I feel fine!" By the end of my ten days in the hospital, the "clouds" had finally disappeared. The doctor told me I was healthy and sent me home. And I was just happy I could see again!
Two years later I noticed tingling in my fingers and legs. At the time I was accompanying a flutist who was also a physical therapist, and she told me to go to the neurologist where she worked. Without telling me what he suspected, he asked if I would be willing to see another neurologist, who I later learned specialized in multiple sclerosis (MS).
By then my sister-in-law and another nurse had already told me that my symptoms sounded like MS. So on my visit to the specialist, I asked him point blank, "Do I have MS or don't I?" After everybody else had started worrying about me, decided I should do a little worrying too! Actually I was relieved to finally know what was wrong with me. Although he couldn't say for sure, he said it looked very much like a kind of MS that progresses slowly. My case had been harder to diagnose because I didn't have any of the characteristic relapse and remission "attacks."
My husband and I had been great hikers, climbing a lot of the mountains in our part of Switzerland, but now it became harder and harder to hike. The 50 stairs I had to climb in our church parsonage became increasingly difficult to climb, and my long walks got shorter and shorter. I began spending a lot of time alone talking to God—not so much about my health but about the teenager we had taken into our home. The victim of a broken home, he was having such a hard time, and I had so much wanted to be the mother to him that he didn't have.
Finally one day I told my husband I was ready to be anointed. Until then, although I knew I would one day be anointed, I didn't know when the "right time" would be. It is easy to know the "right time" when you have been in a serious accident or have been diagnosed as terminally ill. I was neither of those, although I knew that there was no "cure" as such for MS, especially my kind. But after talking to Elder and Mrs. Cress and our Division Ministerial Secretary, Elder Mager, I knew the time had come.
Ten years after my first sign of MS, I was anointed in a small private service in our home with our church elder, my husband, and the division ministerial secretary. It was a very special service, like being dedicated to the Lord for something special. Afterwards I knew we had done all that was in our power to do. Of course I was eager to bounce down the stairs the next day! I felt great, and I was so happy and felt so near to the Lord. I especially felt honored that the General Conference had prayed for me on that day. But even though I felt better, and even walked better, I didn't bounce down the stairs the next day, or the next. And in time it became clear to me that God had indeed answered our prayers with, "I am going to heal you soon, but not now. I will take good care of you, but for you it is better this way, and I still have plenty of work for you to do, in spite of you MS."
And He has wonderfully kept His promise. He has "spoiled" me in so many ways, and there is still plenty of work for me to do! And there is something fun about driving into a crowded parking lot, straight up to your special reserved parking spot! At the General Conference in Utrecht, it was fun to "buggy" around feeling sorry for all those people with their tired, hurting feet who couldn't get a go:d seat, and I could go sit right up front with my wheel chair!
Today I have a deeper and more urgent longing for Christ's soon return. I have plenty of time for reading and prayer—far more than I used to have! I also have a much closer relationship with Jesus.
For a long time I could give thanks for God's promise of strength for the weary, power for the weak (Isaiah 40:29 NIV). I could give thanks for His promise to strengthen, help and uphold me (Isaiah 41:10). But the hardest step for me to take was to be able to give thanks for everything (Eph 5:20 and I Thess. 5:18), including my MS.
Then one evening at our small group prayer meeting I confessed that I had trouble with those two texts.. After prayer meeting that night, I went home and cried. I told the Lord I was sorry. And for the first time I was able to say, "and thank you, Lord, for my situation that has brought me closer to you and made me more dependent on you than ever before."
Today I am so thankful for every step I can still take and for a practically pain-free life. And it is so nice to know that my MS is His problem and no longer mine, and that He will take care of it in His own good time.
As a special bonus, God saw to it that the teenage boy I longed to mother has grown up and married a lovely girl. Along with their adorable little boy who calls me "Granny," they live nearby so I can see them often.
God gave me a son, a teen-age boy
To love and guide, to bring comfort and joy
But then he left too young for his years
And oh the anguish, the pain and the tears.
And then I learned how God must feel
When I turn my back and no longer kneel.
He understands the missing "hi"
Because He loves him even more than I.
But unlike me, He doesn't demand;
Only a whisper and a drawing hand.
That, too, I must learn from my Father above:
To let go and let Him, is a sign of true love.
And when I remember this child He has given
Is His, not just mine, and He wants him in heaven.
Thank you, Father, for doing what I can't, but I would:
For loving him much more than I ever could.
Like the prodigal of old (and that includes me)
Lead us both home to be forever with Thee.