It’s been five years since you were diagnosed with MS. We rarely talk about it, but we had a nice talk the other night. I feel guilty that we don’t do that more often. And I also feel guilty about something you said, although I know it wasn’t your intention to make me feel that way.
You told me you’re scared that because of this disease, you might not be good enough for us. You’re worried that oftentimes you’re too exhausted, too angry, too cranky, and too distracted to be a good father.
There are many scary things about MS. And I don’t want your relationship with us to be another thing to worry about.
. . .
I remember when you broke the news to me about your diagnosis. You quickly explained what MS is, and the next thing you said was: “It’s not contagious or hereditary, so you won’t get MS because of me.” That thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. All I wanted to know was if you were going to be OK. Worst case scenario, you said, is that you might end up in a wheelchair in 20 years, but that probably would’ve happened at that age anyway, you assured me. You did what you could to put me at ease. You made that talk all about me, when it should’ve been all about you.
When you told me, I didn’t really understand much about MS. What I knew was this: it was a disease that could potentially stop my very active dad from moving. My childhood memories are of you fishing, hunting, camping, and playing sports. At family barbecues, you were always the one to get a “running bases” game started. While the adults were all lounging on the deck, you’d be running around with the kids.
The other night, you expressed that you’re worried you won’t be able to do these things with us. But I’m not worried so much about what you might not be able to do with us. I just want you to be able to do the things you love.
. . .
I guess what I’m trying to say is…when it comes to your disease, don’t worry about me. If anything, I should be the one worried about being a better daughter because of your illness. I don’t ask how you’re feeling. So I fight and argue with you over little things when you’re not feeling well. You’ve always gotten grouchy kind of easily (sorry, but let’s be honest). So I forget that you might be grouchy because of your illness.
I’ll try to be less hard on you, especially today, on Father’s Day. I hope you have an amazing day. You definitely deserve it.
Amanda Ippolito-Autoimmune Ally
Amanda is a junior at The College of New Jersey, pursuing a degree in journalism. She is from northern New Jersey but in the summer, she prefers to spend her time at the Jersey Shore. In her free time she likes to read, write, nap, do yoga, and hang out with friends. And her cat, Uno. She also plays way too many games on her iPhone. Amanda has been inspired to make a difference in the autoimmune community ever since her dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis five years ago.View all Amanda Ippolito posts.