Second Annual “Blogging for TSC Awareness Month” Day 21
by guest blogger Paula Krischel (Dwight, Illinois)
Living with Tuberous Sclerosis, and having children with Tuberous Sclerosis, is always a rollercoaster of the unknown. You never know when this disease is going to put a tailspin on our health. The constant stress of dealing with insurance, therapy, school, doctors, sickness, testing — it all gets to you when you only have 24 hours in a day. That is not including everyday work that needs to be done around the house, bills to pay, events to get to, and the list goes on. It is a never ending battle to not show how badly this disease can affect how I feel. The day must go on, and even though I am a stay-at-home mom, a lot is depending on me to make our every day routine run smoothly.
I realize nobody is safe from having symptoms from this disease. That really hit me a couple years ago. I have lived with this disease symptom free for 42 years. The only time there was any symptom was when I had seizures when I was little, but at that time there weren’t MRIs to diagnose Tuberous Sclerosis. I went years thinking I had childhood epilepsy that I outgrew at puberty. As I get older, the hardest part is dealing with the emotional aspects of this disorder. I find my anxiety seems to get higher as I try to learn to juggle my health, my boys’ health, and all the obstacles that come with this disease. My kidneys have taken the biggest hit from this disorder. I have to take a pill for the rest of my life that is considered to be a chemo drug that has all new symptoms that can happen to my health. It is really hard to stay positive when you feel like crap inside. The hardest part is that people think you feel like crap because you’re overweight, which I am, but it really does not come to that. Of course losing weight could help me, but so much with this disease, there is no guarantee that will solve all of my problems. I hear blood pressure, cholesterol, and all that good stuff will be better, but the fact is, my wonderful miracle drug that I have to take for my kidneys cause both of those to be bad. It is a struggle that I am still trying to learn to balance but with the fatigue, lower back pain, and symptoms nobody wants to really hear about, it is a daily problem to try and get better. I now have to take medicines I hate to take, but my family needs me so I take them.
The best part of this disease — it has made my family stronger. NO ONE is not affected by this disease in our family. My son Josh, does not get to always have a normal childhood because his brothers got sick, had a seizure, or are just off from their autism. Most children are privileged to have both parents go to award banquets, sporting events, and school plays. Not our family. Most days we have to take turns going so one parent can stay home for our other two boys that have Tuberous Sclerosis as well. My husband works very hard to take care of our family and to help out as much as possible when I am having bad days. He truly is my rock, my best friend, and my soul mate. He does not judge me; he gives me time to spend with friends and helps as much as he can with the boys. This disorder has put us in many different stressful situations, but with our faith, we always seem to conquer the obstacles one by one.
The most important part I have to remember is to always take a proactive look at my health so I can be there for my boys. Please, to all of you adults out there, be proactive. You never know when you will have a new problem with TS. At one point I was really having bad back pains. I found out my tumors growing in my kidneys were causing the pain. Always listen to what your body is telling you and get things checked out. I had to start Afinitor immediately so I could avoid surgery. To me that is my best option because I still need to take care of my family. I may feel like I am an 80-year-old lady at times, but with my husband by my side, I know I can push through anything. He is my best supporter, along with my 15-year-old son who would give up anything if it meant helping his momma out. I am a very lucky woman, to have such a wonderful family. I also have some amazing friends that get me out of the house when I just need a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It is also wonderful to live in small town America, with a population of 4200 people. Everyone knows our children through school, church, and being out in the community, and I know they have our backs if our children are ever in need. It took me a long time to accept this disorder, but now I am determined to do everything I can to live a long healthy life. It is important to be here for my family.
Another important thing to do as an adult with TS is find some kind of support. I know not every family member can understand how you feel, friends don’t always understand, and people can feel alone. I found solace in getting to really know some wonderful women and men on the Tuberous Sclerosis Facebook pages. NO ONE is affected exactly the same with this disease, but there are enough similarities that you can get ideas to ask your professionals to see if it may help you or your loved ones. These people live our life, they pray for you, give you encouraging advice, and can make the healing process bearable as we fight on for a cure. I feel very rich by the friendships I have made, and I am ready to help those who are just learning about this disease. I will give EVERYTHING, but UP!! I will trust in God, trust my doctors, and trust my family to be by my side as I battle this incurable disease and battle to be the best I can be. Thank you for listening.
Read more about Paula’s family in her guest post for last year’s Blogging for Awareness.
Please also check out her son Josh’s contribution last year from the perspective of teen with an affected mom and siblings.