Will you join the revolution against multiple sclerosis?

A columnist offers a timely piece to mark the Fourth of July

Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

by Benjamin Hofmeister |

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I was once very good at getting out of the way.

This skill served me well in dodgeball games when I was younger, and then later during my military career. Given my various injuries, you might be skeptical about that last comment, but I was actually renowned for my ability to avoid being wounded.

These days I don’t have the need to get out of the way very much. That’s a good thing because, thanks to multiple sclerosis (MS), I don’t have the ability to do so. The top speed of my electric wheelchair is 6 mph in a straight line. If there’s such a thing as an agile sport model wheelchair, mine isn’t it.

Most of the time I don’t mind, but tonight, I’d like to set off some fireworks in celebration of the Fourth of July, and getting out of the way is a pretty important part of that.

That’s OK, because even though we associate the holiday with fireworks, that’s not what it’s about. In the U.S., today is about celebrating our independence. It’s a solemn holiday and a source of pride for Americans.

With that in mind, I present to you several parallels between the war for U.S. independence and my multiple sclerosis.

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I was diagnosed with MS on Feb. 14, 2014. I haven’t declared my independence of the disease yet, and don’t know if I ever will, but it was important to me to know the source of my troubles. I may never win, but at least I know what I’m at war with.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence didn’t know what the future held for them, either. Like me, they were extremely dissatisfied with their current state and opted for defiance. Our risks are different, but I think our attitudes are similar.

The American Revolutionary War didn’t begin when the colonies formally declared their desire to be an independent nation. There had been ongoing conflicts for years leading up to the recognized start of the revolution and “the shot heard ’round the world” the year before that.

In much the same way, my MS didn’t begin with my diagnosis; there were plenty of signs before that. I don’t know when my disease officially began, but I often say that five years before I was diagnosed, I tripped on some stairs leading into the reception hall at my wedding. I don’t remember how many stairs there were, only that I arrived at the bottom of them on my bottom. Fortunately, I didn’t pull my bride down with me and no one caught it on film, so it was merely the “trip heard ’round the reception hall.”

Initially, the revolution was fought with limited outside support, but in 1778, France joined the effort. That support turned the war into an international one, boosted morale, and helped turn the tide in favor of the Americans.

I didn’t seek support right away to help me manage MS. In fact, I waited four years to do so. Since then, I feel allied with an international group of people united against a common enemy. Knowing that folks from all over the world are joined with me in defiance of MS has lifted my spirits.

Is the tide turning? With all the advances in MS treatments, I’d like to think so. Will we win? I believe we will, eventually. I don’t know if the end of our revolution against MS will happen in my lifetime. I just know that my compatriots and I will continue to fight toward that goal.

If it does happen in my lifetime, you can bet I’ll set off some fireworks. My ability to get out of the way may still be impaired, but I’ll chance it.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Donald Wayne Dony avatar

Donald Wayne Dony

Hi Ben,
I also have PPMS. I am now 72 and I received the diagnosis when I was 60. I have been taking annual cord stem cell injections since 2019. The injections remove over 80% of the symptoms of MS. I would recommend this simple once-a-year treatment.
I hope this is helpful.
Donald.

Reply
David Bottomley avatar

David Bottomley

Ahh yes. Not sure I’ve forgiven King George III for losing our American colony 😎 but mighty grateful for all the new research and treatments coming from there. Like you I think and hope that we will defeat MS. Perhaps not in my lifetime either but I do think it’s only a matter of time

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Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

Benjamin Hofmeister

I can't really even call myself an ungrateful colonist lol. The Hofmeisters didn't emigrate until the late 1800s and the one I can find that fought in the revolution was a German mercenary fighting for the English.

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Robert Bartholomew avatar

Robert Bartholomew

Great column and great spirit!

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Jonelle Jozwiak avatar

Jonelle Jozwiak

Thank you for your candid take on our common pain in the butt! I took was in the US Army when I was diagnosed 28 years ago! I continued to work as a Physical Therapist to prove everyone wrong. Slowly I cut my hours until 2 1/2 years ago I couldn't even work 5 hours, 3 days a week. Thank you for your positive outlook! Keep on, keeping on!!

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Diane Banfield avatar

Diane Banfield

I enjoyed this uplifting post. Short but meaningful. Hip Hip Hooray!!! Happy Fourth and here's to independence!! 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

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Wendy Roe Hovey avatar

Wendy Roe Hovey

This is a great piece. It made me laugh and I love your spirit! Thank you.

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Fausto avatar

Fausto

"Will we win? I believe we will, eventually. I don’t know if the end of our revolution against MS will happen in my lifetime. I just know that my compatriots and I will continue to fight toward that goal.
If it does happen in my lifetime, you can bet I’ll set off some fireworks."

Truly amazing words! Thank you for this post! I believe we will win! At the end we win! Putting hopes in the new treatments as well, hope we all can set off some fireworks sir! Let's keep it up fighting toward this goal!

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Peter Bergin avatar

Peter Bergin

Good Article on MS.

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Ginny Cotterill avatar

Ginny Cotterill

Great read, Ben! Yes, I think we've got this one. Within the last 5 or so years, we've been moving the front line forward, like never before. Our Military Intelligence has gathered knowledge of data such as ahsct, Epstein BV and the role of our T cells and B cells.(Whose side are those cells on, anyways!) With continued reconnaissance , our enemy will be waving the white flag. And I like to think we'll be here to light the fireworks and celebrate the victory!

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