Love is a story that triumphs over all. Even those with tragic endings, are only considered tragic because love was there. One couple got together over a shared diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. A chronic disease that most people treat as a means to an end. However, they chose love, over and above the doubt. And their love story is not over yet.
They share a diagnosis
Many people are attracted to those who share the same interests. Maybe they had a similar upbringing, or they listen to the same music. In the case of Jamie and Bruna, it was their shared diagnosis of multiple sclerosis that brought them together. Their love has survived along with both, defying all doctor’s predictions. Especially after the birth of their son, Francisco. “People don’t understand how we both have ‘sclerosis’ and have a doctorate and have a child,” Bruna says. “They think that sclerosis is dementia.”
Most people have little idea what multiple sclerosis means. They assume worst, and in some cases this is true. However, both Jamie and Bruna have deified the odds and lived well past the typical life expectancy of those with MS. When Bruna was 14 years old, she went to the doctor to find an answer for various symptoms she had noticed. Her doctor reluctantly shared the bad news with her mother. “It was a little scary because my doctor didn’t say the name of the disease,” she says. “He wrote it on a piece of paper and passed it to my mom. It was very difficult, because I thought it must not be a good thing if he couldn’t speak it out loud.”
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Their diagnosis brought them together
After doing some research, Bruna read online that most people with the same diagnosis of MS only live for 10 years. However, she is now 35 years old, and living strong. Later in life, she was inspired to create a blog called, Amigos Múltiplos pela Esclerose. Her intention was to provide a platform for support for others with multiple sclerosis. She wants to raise awareness that having MS does not always mean your life is over. “We have to create some stories and narratives so that it’s not the end of life—it’s a different way of life,” Bruna says. “We can live in a good way, even if we have a disease like MS.”
Jamie was diagnosed with MS when he was 28 years old. For a few years before the diagnosis, he had been feeling weak in the limbs and struggled with basic things like walking. The worry grew into stress, which led him to the doctor for a check up. For him, finding out he had MS allowed the anxiety over his disease to dissipate. He now had an answer to the weakness he had been experiencing.
In a search for answers, Jamie scoured the internet to educate himself on MS. Somewhere along the line he found Bruna’s blog. Her words brought comfort to him, so he reached out to her via email. This started an ongoing email trail where they shared detail about their daily lives and the effect of MS. After about six months of this back-and-forth emailing, they decided to meet in person. Their friendship quickly evolved into a romantic one, and they eventually got married.
Then, Francisco arrived
The diagnosis of MS was not enough to stop Bruna from having a child. Even though everyone told her it was going to be hard, she was determined to be a mother. “When I was diagnosed, we believed—and science believed—that people with MS couldn’t have children, [that] it was not appropriate to have children with MS,” says Bruna. “But when we decided to have a kid, we were very passionate that we were capable of educating our child. People don’t believe that we can be a mom and dad with chronic disease and disability,” she says. “But I think it’s difficult to be a mom and dad for everybody.”
What is multiple Sclerosis?
According to Mayo Clinic, multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic disease. It is generally diagnosed when people are between 20and 30 years old. The disease causes the immune system to attack the myelin of the spinal cord.
This leaves the nerve fibers unprotected, and your brain will struggle to communicate to the rest of your body. The symptoms of MS vary from person to person. Some lose mobility of their limbs, others struggle to talk, or lose their eyesight altogether. Generally, people with MS experience, dizziness, impaired vision, bowel and bladder problems, fatigue, numbness, or pins and needles in one side of their body.
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