Category Archives: The Spiritual Side of MS

MS a Child with Cancer and a Kitten

A picture of me.

Bill Walker

The power of having a pet, in this case a kitten, can change people’s lives forever. The following true short story was published in Parade Magazine a few weeks ago. And though it is not about multiple sclerosis it is nothing but pure love, so I decided to share it here. It brings hope that any disease can be cured!

 

ONE LAST WISH

 

Robin and Mark Myers, of Suwanne, GA., are grateful for the rescue that came into their family’s life when their 12-year-old daughter, Kylie, was battling cancer.

     “Cancer stole a lot from Kylie, but she was determined it wouldn’t steal her joy,” says Robin. When the family got the news that Kylie was dying. She looked up with a weak smile and a twinkle in her eye, asking her dad, “Now can I finally have a kitten?” Sharing their story on what would have been Kylie’s 15th birthday, Robin recalls, “We would’ve said yes to anything.”

     A friend swung by the local shelter and rushed to Kylie’s bedside with a kitten. Kylie named her Liza and the kitten curled up in the crook of her arm. “Liza just stayed there and didn’t leave her side at all in the few days until we lost Kylie,” Robin recalls through tears. “The last thing Kylie said was, ‘I want you to help find a cure for childhood cancer, and please take care of my kitty.’

     “But it’s Liza, who takes care of me, “says Robin. “When I cry, Liza comes running. She has an uncanny understanding. She rescued our family and keeps Kylie’s spirit alive.” (Visit Parade Magazines website for a video. Sorry, many sites that I publish on will not permit links.)

    

     (The FDA just approved a way to enhance the body’s own immune system to attack, Lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, which has been effective in curing 85% of the patients that have received this new breakthrough treatment. It is hoped that this treatment can one day soon be developed for use in all types of cancers for both humans and pets as well. Making cancer a disease of the past!)

 

Please support your local shelter and adopt whenever you can. And always get your pets spay or neutered.

Bill Walker

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The Burlington Washington Shootings

Mountains at sunsetYesterday five people were shot to death and one sent to the hospital with critical injuries in a senseless act of violence that is also occurring all around the world even as I write this. However this one is way to close to home for me. You see I used to work at the Burlington Mall just a few years ago and just down the corridor from Macy’s!

The questions that come to mind in a tragedy like this are hard to articulate and accept. What, if anything, can be done to stop the killing? With each act of violence people become more desensitized to these horrible acts of insanity and violence. And one only has to watch the nightly news to be barraged with a litany of human suffering that is mostly, and unbelievably, self inflicted.

I have Multiple Sclerosis, and believe it or not, it’s easier to blame God, even though I realize that it’s not Gods fault, for a disease that has taught me understanding and compassion. These are precious gifts even if learned through hardship and pain. But I find that I just have a really hard time finding any understanding in acts of violence that take another life in most cases.

Where do we go, and where do we turn from here? Or are we doomed to a fate filled existence of hate without end?

Prayers for both the living, and the dead. And may we all see the light of a truly blessed and harmonious world that we could create if we only took the time  to realize that Heaven on Earth is a possibility that is not beyond imagination to conceive. It just takes a little effort and a long heartfelt look at human ego and how to build a loving soul rather than a hate filled one!

Bill Walker

MS Disability Foster Care and Giving Back

Mountains in a cloud

Twin Sisters in a cloud bank

     According to an associated press article I recently read Washington State is over a thousand foster care homes shy of what is needed. And I know that this problem exists throughout the United States. I believe that I have a solution, or at least a partial one, to this problem.

     I have a disability, multiple sclerosis, and feel that I would make a very good foster parent as I know that I am a very patient person. However, I have not really pursued being a foster parent because I am a single male and wonder if that would work against me in the long run? But I do own my own home with two extra bedrooms that I could convert easily if I decided to do this. The other concerns I have are that my house needs a fair amount of maintenance work that my disability money just will never cover. And would also need repairs before any child could live here and I’m not sure that DSHS or Child Protective Services would even consider that expenditure? If they would, I know that there are a lot of other disabled people in a similar situations that a program like this would definitely benefit if they knew they could provide a home as well? And my last worry would be if by being a foster parent would that alter, in anyway, my current disability benefits as they stand now?

     If these concerns could be satisfactorily addressed I believe that DSHS would find a whole new batch of willing foster care parents who would be more than willing to share their empathy with these children who need a temporary home with positive reinforcement while also providing another financial tool to the disabled who so badly need it. And of course, the disabled need to also be needed by society and what better way than this to achieve that goal.

     This could be a very positive match between two groups of people who need to feel that society has not forgotten what they, kids and adults, can contribute back if only the right connections could be worked out?  

 

Bill Walker

Like my writing? Want to read my first novel about a pod of Killer Whales traveling up the Pacific Coast of North America? Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Visus-William-C-Walker-ebook/dp/B00U8ZN4GE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427573378&sr=8-1&keywords=Visus

MS Incurable Diseases and Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus

    The book Men are from Mars Women are from Venus When I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis I wanted to go to war with it I wanted to fight it tooth and nail fist and foot. The problem was I had no idea of how-what-where and when to actually start my one man crusade against a disease that attacked from the inside out. Which I believe is probably how most men react to finding out they have MS because, let’s face it, men are from Mars ruled by the God of war according to the Greeks and you can’t beat something and get the desired results by just sulking about it. And in my opinion this is how most men start their MS journey, or at least, I did.

     And though I am not a woman I have observed over my many years since being diagnosed, that women seem much more likely to be devastated at first by this disease on an emotional level, even more so then on a physical level, like I believe most men are, because women just can’t emotionally come to grips with MS on a sensitivity level when it doesn’t fit in at all on any nurturing path that most women are used to dealing with in their normal daily lives. And women probably skip right past the, why me, and go straight to the, why anyone, question, where as men get stuck on the why me before realizing that this disease is an equal opportunity destroyer.  

     And men and women also seem to differ on how they start to cope with this ghostly health shadow that will follow them around just beneath their daily life persona for the rest of their natural born days. Women, being from Venus the planet of love, seek out others to share their inner most feelings with about this rude uninvited guest that decided to crash their own personal space as they wonder: How do I tell the kids? Men, after finally realizing that the fight was over before it even began, want to take the flight option and just go find a cave to be alone in while they try and work through all the details of their future and how they are going to adjust from this sneak attack from within that came without any rules or warning as they wonder: How is this going to effect my work?

     At this point men start to look for the solutions to answer all of the problems that they now fear they will have to face. Women, on the other hand, search out people to share their feelings with, and then how to define all of the problems that they will eventually have to face. This is a very difficult point in the disease progression especially for men, who will almost always see and fear the worst. While women are much more likely to seek out and accept empathy and sympathy and hope for the best. And most men, unfortunately, see empathy and sympathy as a sign of weakness and surrender from their own personal ego driven point of view. Sorry ladies, that’s truly a guy thing.

     In the end women probably have an easier time accepting multiple sclerosis as a part of their lives then men do, though at some point, even men have to grudgingly surrender to their deepest fears and let this invisible monster become a part of their existence. And it is only then that men become much better communicators with just about everyone because having an incurable disease is a great educator/dictator when it comes to learning what empathy and sympathy really mean and how to share them with the world around you.

     It’s a tough lesson to learn, and a lesson that has been truly an awakening for me. I just wish I knew how to pass it on to a world that desperately needs to learn the true meaning of compassion, because that’s exactly what having MS or any incurable disease teaches you, compassion!

Bill Walker

MS and My Four Legged Guardian Angel

A Guardian Angel Named Lucky

My Cat Lucky

My Guardian Angel

     I moved to the Washington State in 1996 to be closer with family who had already relocated to the ever-green-state. I quickly found a job at a private golf club and then became involved with an animal rescue organization on Whidbey Island in Western Washington. WAIF or, Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation, as it is still called, took on the daunting task of financially supporting many unwanted and abandoned pets as people moved off of the island leaving their dogs and cats to fend for themselves.

     About a year and half after my move I got a phone call one early evening from another volunteer from the WAIF shelter in a state of pure panic. Earlier in the day she had witnessed a car throw something out of a window as it sped past her house, concerned about just what that might have been she went out to look. And to her shock and dismay she found that the object that had been tossed was a kitten lying semiconscious in the middle of the road. She quickly scooped up this tiny ball of fur and was off to the vet where it was diagnosed as just being in shock and having a few bumps and bruises. This volunteer already had many dogs and cats in her own home and felt that one more was just too much for her small house and yard, which is where I came in, and why she was calling me. She couldn’t bare the thought of taking this kitten and turning her over to the shelter as she felt that this kitten had been through enough already and would I please consider adopting her? Answering no wasn’t an option, even though I already had two cats in my apartment. Which is how Lucky, as this volunteer friend had already named her, came to me.

     Two years later one of those original two cats passed on just as I was struck down with my first MS attack and it wasn’t long after that the second cat followed in much the same way leaving just myself and Lucky to deal with my new life as a person with Multiple Sclerosis. I was literally rocked to my physical and emotional core but Lucky became the lifeline that I clung to as she always seemed to sense when I needed her most.

     For most people dealing with insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, while trying to stay employed are just some of life’s little nuisances that have to be dealt with when time permits. However, when you find yourself facing an incurable disease they become something more on the line of monumental challenges where the rules are rarely, if ever, explained to you. And it’s at times like these where the tears often fall as the aggravation mounts to levels that most people either don’t, or can’t, comprehend. And it was always at times like these that Lucky would realize how badly she was needed on my lap, even when I’m sure, she would much rather have been outside climbing a tree or chasing a bird or a mouse.

     As the years passed Lucky was my ever present rock against, for profit insurance companies, who could have cared less whether I got any better or not as they tried their best to keep the cost of my healthcare as low as possible. And she never complained once about my loud vocal outbursts when trying to map my way through government agencies that I thought were there to help you but more often then not end up creating even more stress as they pass you from one level of bureaucracy onto the next.

     And now eighteen plus years later, as I watch her deal bravely with her own health issues of having both kidney and liver disease knowing that the end is not far into the future for her, I realize the most important gift of all that she has given me. And that is that we are all here to learn to live, love, and overcome all of these challenges that are thrown our way as best we can with what God has given us to help us endure these trials of life. And my Angel Lucky taught me this, without ever saying a word.

This article was recently published in MS Focus Magazine!

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MS and My Retinal Detachment

     100_0548 I have Multiple Sclerosis and I have also had some pretty serious issues with my right eye lately which, surprisingly enough, have absolutely nothing to do with each other. First, over this last summer, I had a detached Vitreous which was terrifying in that I had floaters and all kinds of visual distortions that ultimately my body was able to correct on its own. And then a few weeks ago in early November I started to have what I thought was another round of the same detachment so I paid little attention to it until I started to lose about 60 to 70% of my vision in my right eye which sent me back to the eye doctor. And in this case it was a very good thing that I did as a Detached Retina I learned is a whole lot worse, seeing as it will eventually lead to going blind in that eye, if not corrected quickly.

     A scant 24 hours after my diagnosis I found myself going into the first of a two day procedure where they inject a gas bubble straight into your eye to push the retina back into place, which sounds gross, but isn’t nearly as uncomfortable as you might think. On the second day I was taken into the laser room where they shot a laser beam straight into my right eye to reattach, or weld would be more like it, the retina back into its proper location. As the Ophthalmologist worked on my eye he started to tell me just how lucky I was to have this happen now as opposed to ten years ago when this procedure was just in the very early phase of being developed. In other words, I probably would have lost the use of my right eye ten years ago and for many people once this occurs in one eye the likely hood of it happening in the other eye jumps significantly which is why I have to go back in two weeks to have the laser part of this procedure done again on a few weak spots in my left eye.

     And this procedure actually had a profoundly positive effect on my overall out look when it comes to also having MS, I started to consider just how fast science is moving and discovering new ways of treating and curing many health problems. If you’ve been reading all of the studies that are currently being done on MS and a wide variety of other Autoimmune disorders, as well as all diseases really, you start to think that it really is possible that we all may once again be able to hike up a mountain side or ride a one hundred mile marathon bike race without all of the ravages of these awful diseases holding us back.

     Don’t get me wrong, I certainly didn’t enjoy my Detached Retina experience by any means, but it did help me to find my faith in a medical system that I have quite often been critical of in the recent past. We will find a cure to Multiple Sclerosis in the near future, of that I’m absolutely certain. My Holiday wish for all of us is to see, and experience life once again to its fullest, without any adverse effects from this degenerative malady that we call Multiple Sclerosis!

 

Happy Holidays to all with hopes for 2015 being the year that we can truly see the beginning of the end of this disease. And, who knows, perhaps the cure has already been discovered and is just a clinical trial or two away from becoming a reality!

 

Bill Walker

MS and Beyond goes to Haunted Northern State

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The old on campus church

     I worked on the grounds of Northern State Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, WA for over five years at two different jobs and with Halloween just around the corner I thought I would share some of my experiences, as well as a few others, during my employment their. As many of you have heard, or perhaps not, this old psych hospital built and opened in 1912 is purported to be quite haunted. I can certainly attest to the fact that there is at least some very strange energy that manifests itself on this sprawling 400 acre plus site.

walker3-R1-014-5A

The fog you see in this picture was not visible when this picture was taken and there is no electricity to that building so it’s not steam.

     My first job on these grounds was with Job Corp which is located, in part, in the four old dormitory buildings that housed almost all of the patients until the hospital was closed in 1979. And these buildings are still used for the same purpose for the kids attending Job Corp. And part of my job was to do bedroom checks, since I worked the night shift, making sure the students were all where they were supposed to be. The dorm I worked in had two floors, boys on the ground level, and girls on the second floor, and each floor is set up in a T formation with heavy magnetic steel fire doors separating the three different hallways that make up the T. All three of these double fire doors are set up to close together in the case of a fire as they are all on the same electrical circuit. I always knew when I was being escorted along my rounds by something, or someone that I could not see, as quite often when I would pass thru one of the three sets of fire doors they would suddenly close right behind me but the other two sets would remain open. Like I already said, that’s impossible, they are all on the same circuit and it wasn’t the same set of doors each time. It varied I guess depending on which set my invisible helper decided to release for my benefit.

     If you ever watched the show Ghost Hunters on A&E they had a half hour segment about Northern State where in one camera shot you can actually see a shadow step out from behind a wall and into a hallway and then suddenly step back out of the camera shot. I have been down that hallway once on a tour and it’s blocked off so you can’t go any further then where you see the shadow person emerge from and then disappear from. I guess permanently sealed doorways don’t present much of a problem for him or her!

     I also worked at the Evaluation & Treatment Center that used to be housed on the same grounds about a quarter of a mile down the hill from Job Corp. And much to the dismay of two of our nurses, Shadow Man, as he is referred too, made a couple of visits to see us down there as well. The first one was when one of our night nurses was looking out our break room window, not really thinking about much of anything, when she said that the whole window became shadowed over just like someone was walking right past the window except, other then a shadow, there was nobody their. The second nurse to make his acquaintance about a year later had gone outside for a break during a heavy rainstorm. She had been standing under our front door eve when she very suddenly ran back inside exclaiming, “Oh my god, Oh my god, I think I just saw shadow man.”

     After calming down she explained how she had just been kind of staring out at the rain when she suddenly noticed a complete full outline of a man running thru the rain. The thing was though, as she put it, “I could see the rain falling right thru him, but it was just a shadow.” I thought that was going to be the last night we ever saw her but she did continue to work their even after her encounter though she rarely went outside by herself after that night.

     I have many other stories that I heard from students and the like but I’ll close with the two scariest stories of all. The first happened in the hospitals administration building that houses a different treatment center from the one I worked at.

     One night two nurses went to get on the elevator that runs between the basement and the first and second floors. However, the basement is no longer used except for storage so the elevator is locked out from going down to that level. On this night though the ghosts had other plans and not only did the elevator go down to the basement it refused to go back up after the doors opened and then stayed open no matter what buttons they pushed. I was told that it took the fire department to come and unlock the stairway door and escort these two nurses back upstairs because they wouldn’t leave the open elevator until their rescuers got down there.

     And finally, the old hospital building that is on the grounds has been used on a couple of occasions to film horror movies by Valentine Films. One movie called, Bloody Mary, didn’t need any computer to add special effects. In one scene a woman is in a bathroom and is supposedly being attacked by Bloody Mary and as the camera pulls away so you can no longer see her, the bathroom lights start flickering on and off rapidly, creating a great effect along with her screams. However, like the magnetic doors, this bathroom is wired into the electrical system for that entire section of the hospital which means that there is no way the light’s can do that. And if you tried to do this from the electrical panel you would blow out the entire system for that part of the building. It’s in the film which you can still get on DVD online.

     So if you ever find yourself on the grounds of Northern State remember, It’s always Halloween their, so expect the unexpected.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  

 

Bill Walker