Adam and Sharon explain the challenges and rewards they've experienced since Sharon became his carer
Adam, 43, was diagnosed eight years ago with relapsing remitting MS, and in the last 18 months it has become secondary progressive MS. He lives with his wife, Sharon, 45, who is now his carer. So, how has his condition changed things for the couple? “Being diagnosed has most definitely made mine and Sharon’s relationship stronger and closer,” he says. “Over the years we have learned to appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and how to put them into play.”
“We still do pretty much everything together, albeit we just plan for things better. It really is all about management and communication. My wife is an angel of a woman and I’m lucky to have her walking this journey with me.”
Adam says that matching each other’s pace of life probably has been their biggest challenge. “In the early years, as I slowed down, Sharon sped up to somewhat compensate for both of us. This didn’t work and would throw us off kilter. We’ve found our groove now though.” Sharon agrees, “Definitely the pace has been my personal challenge. I’ve always been someone who went 100 miles an hour at everything and so, in the beginning, I found this frustrating. Over time, however, you start to learn the rhythm of the condition, and gain balance.
“I don’t look or think of my husband as any different since his diagnosis, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how the dynamic has changed. Physically, yes, he can’t do some of the things that he may be used to but there’s so many other things that he can do and that we have found that we can do together so that sort of eliminates that, if that makes sense.”
So what would the couple say to themselves at the beginning of their journey, if they had the chance to go back and impart some wisdom about what they know now? “If I could go back to the beginning, I would tell myself don’t be scared, it’s going be OK,” says Adam. “You are stronger than you know. There will be many moments when you want to get off this ride but, just remember, that’s exact what they are, moments. It’s such an old cliché, but, tomorrow really is a new day.
“For any new couple beginning this journey, communication is everything,” says Sharon. “Talk lots, but listen equally. Be there for each other but also give yourself what you need. Don’t think too far ahead, no-one knows what’s round the corner, so what’s the point in worrying? And last but not least, laugh. Some days you just have to find the funny.”
Both agree that Adam’s condition has strengthened their relationship, and they have grown together because of the challenges they’ve faced. “The diagnosis from day one just put life and our relationship in perspective,” Sharon says. “The little things just disappeared and suddenly the true value of what’s important took priority. I see this as a gift if I’m completely honest. We forget all too often to stop and appreciate simple things because life gets so busy.
“We both agree that MS was the best and worst gift, all at the same time. For every negative, it can unlock a new positive,” she says. “If I could go back, I would tell myself, don’t try and fix everything, and don’t get ahead of yourself, things will find their own way.”