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‘CAN do’ attitude to life

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Ian’s story…

Hello, please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Ian Franks – and I am a person.

That might seem a strange thing to say but it is important to me. You see, I have multiple sclerosis but neither that, nor the term ‘disabled’ define me. I am a person first and foremost; I just happen to have a disability.

Getting around is my biggest problem, with my mobility and balance impaired, but I have tried both a mobility scooter and a wheelchair. The wheelchair is the favourite of my wife Lisa; she says it is the only chance she gets to push me around; I wonder how many husbands can say that!

MS may be a life sentence, after all there is no cure yet, but it is not a death sentence – except for those who feel so sorry for themselves that they give up on life. Lisa says her grandfather was like that, but not me!

While there are plenty of things I cannot do, there are many that I can – and that, along with my love for my very special and adorable wife, keeps me positive. My attitude to life is to look at what I CAN do, not what I can’t.

And while I realise that, with MS, no two people have exactly the same symptoms, a positive approach can help. I’d like to tell you about one person I know, whom I shall just call ‘M’. In his younger years he was extremely active and a keen sportsman. Today he can do little for himself, either staying in bed (that he cannot get out of by himself) or moving around in his powered wheelchair. He lives alone and is visited by care workers several times a day. He has virtually lost the use of one hand that he calls ‘the claw’ and his other is failing too. Yet, ‘M’ is so full of life and loves to joke and laugh.

Back in the UK, Lisa and I both joined MS Synergy, a small local charity, to help others. This we did but we also got a lot out of it too. And that’s what it was all about, meeting others in similar situations, sharing with one another the benefit of our experiences, talking over any problems we may have had and simply enjoying the company of the group’s members and supporters.

What else will happen here in Spain? Who knows? That is the future, que sera sera, what will be will be.

Lisa’s story…

Hi, Lisa here, and I just had to have my say! There are so many reasons my husband is my hero. He truly amazes me every day. I don’t think I know a more positive person.

Long ago, when my grandfather was still alive, all I ever heard from him is that he wished God would take him. See, he had MS and I, as a child, didn’t know much about it. In fact, at that time, no-one knew much about MS. My grandfather chose to ‘suffer’ from his disability while Ian ‘lives’ with it.

You might argue that everyone suffers from MS but that is just not true. Ian decided long ago that he would focus on those things that he can still do and not fret about what is no longer possible. We have a very full life.

We both enjoy travel. While Ian felt more free riding about on his scooter while on holiday, I prefer that he use a wheelchair, mainly for selfishness on my part. He, on the other hand, is anything but selfish and the scooter has now gone. He cares about others who live with MS because he knows that he is in a better position than most.

Sometimes I worry about how MS will progress inside of him in the years to come. He doesn’t worry about it at all and he is right, there is nothing he can do about that, so why worry.

I wish I had his attitude but come from a long line of worriers so he just has to put up with me about that. Why is my husband my hero? Because of all he is and all he does for others including me.

Background notes…

Ian was born in 1952 and was diagnosed with MS at the age of 49 but the neurological consultant said that he had gone over Ian’s medical history and that he had found evidence of it in his early 20s. That must have been just after he suffered glandular fever. A coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

He enjoyed a full and satisfying career in journalism and public relations before taking early retirement from work involving going to an office in 2006, owing to his MS. He writes and edits his own successful blog and, in 2016/17, spent 10 months as a freelance editor working for the publisher of multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com and its many other disease/disorder titles.

Lisa is a child of the 1960s and admits to being 49ish; we had best not go there! She was born and brought up in New York, one of three daughters of a Norwegian father and Sicilian mother.

At the time Ian and Lisa met, they were both living in unhappy marriages from which they both gained divorces in the summer of 2011, allowing them to marry each other in October that year.

Lisa says: “It was like a dream, a magical fairy-tale; on a Florida beach under a beautiful sunset, with family and friends plus dolphins playing just offshore.”

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