"He Always Looks Good"
I am a 59 year old single father of two caring and loving
children. Cameron, an outdoor and lifestyle photographer
and my beautiful and loving daughter Maggie a recent High
School grad. A simple man who has been living with Multiple
Sclerosis for 18 years, diagnosed in 2001. Also living with
Type-1 Diabetes since 14 years of age (44 years).
Living with MS has been increasingly difficult, and to say
the least very challenging, robbing me of being able
to participate and enjoy so many activities. Prior to being
diagnosed with MS I was a thrill seeker, an avid snow
skier, and a fearless mountain biker. I enjoyed running,
hiking, cycling, and surfing. I even played a good game of
golf and tennis. It was these activities and my passion for
life I so thoroughly enjoyed living.
MS has significantly changed my life in so many ways, yet
I am still compelled to wake up everyday, no matter how
poorly I may feel, with a smile on my face and an positive and optimistic view of life. What I have learned through all of this is that everyday truly does matter, now more than ever. As one door closes another one opens. I now view this is as my opportunity to become the advocate for MS I vowed to become the day I first learned I had MS. The challenges MS has saddled me with will always be a part of my life, while, my commitment remains the same to continually focus on improving upon the quality of my life and lives of others living with MS.
What They Don't See
When I tell people I have MS, the response I so often hear is "You Look Great",
with a smile on face I look at them and humorously respond back by saying,
"That is what they are going to put on my Tombstone - He Always Looked Good".
Standing in front of you canes in hand, it is impossible for you
to know what I am really focussing on is my legs not going out
from under me? Where and how soon I can sit down?
Where is the closest bathroom? and can make it there on time?
What is your name again? What did you just say?
Although, you may see me in a wheelchair or trying to walk
with two canes or a waker, there are so many more challenges
I am dealing with throughout everyday and hour that are not
visible to others. This is often a topic of discussion within
my support group. To others we may appear as fully
capable as anyone. This is so often not the case with MS
having so many symptoms. Ranging across the board from
balance and mobility to severe cognitive issues, it is hard
see or understand what each one of us with MS is dealing
with on the inside.
Although similar in many ways, MS and the courses it may take is different for each of us. This is why when talking or writing about MS I often refer to the disease as "My MS".
This often the case when talking with others about MS, they always seem to have an aunt, uncle, cousin, co-worker, or hairdresser that has MS who is still working and just ran a marathon. This is good and I am truly happy for them. But, just because I look good, or anyone else with MS for that matter, its not alway the case. Though don't hold back, I will always welcome your compliments!
Dix, a name I hope all will remember. The nickname I was given at birth. A nickname I
have not used since I was nine years old. The Story behind the my nickname (Dix).
Born in 1960, son of Richard (Dick) and Marlyn Gardner. My father was an only child. His father's name was Max, and my father's uncle's name was Rex. my Dad's Grandmother, mother of Max and Rex called my Dad Dix when he was a child. The name given to me at birth is Richard Jr. But, my parents thought it would be cute to call me Dix after the nickname my Dad's Grandmother used. This was obviously done without consulting me. Dix is the only name I knew and answered to as a child, and the name I entered grammar school using. All was good for the first few years of grammar school, but as I grew older and advanced in grades my nickname took on a new meaning to the older boys in our school. Who would have ever thought that by the 4th grade I would be teased every day about my nickname - Dix.
Fortunately for me, after the 5th grade my mom was politely ask to move me to another school, that's another story. Moving to a private school in the 6th grade gave me the opportunity to begin using my real name, Richard. I have gone by Richard ever since. Though, even today after all these years my friends from grammar school still call me Dix. My father has since passed on and I am proud to carry on his name as Richard Jr. What better way now with the launching of my foundation to pay homage to my father than to once again use the nick name he gave me at birth - Dix