by Helen Russon
What would you do if your toes went numb, the numbness spread to your waist, and your vision “was like trying to look through silty water”?
Those were some of Clarisa’s first MS symptoms.
However, once diagnosed, MS didn’t stop her from having two more children, nor from continuing to work as an occupational therapist. She also started to teach a class about MS and fatigue and continued teaching it for seven years.
“I have a lot of energy and it’s hard for me to slow down, even when my body tells me that I absolutely have to,” she said.
According to Clarisa, she benefits from what she has taught, such as sitting at the kitchen table to chop vegetables instead of standing at the counter, or sitting down after a shower while she combs her hair or applies make-up.
She is also up-front with her children, gently letting them know she has to rest often and can’t do everything she would like to do with them.
“I don’t go into detail about the disease…they just know that I have something where I get tired a lot…and they understand,” she said.
Clarisa and her husband both love bike riding, and this year she decided to form a Bike MS team.
“My team is called, ‘HOT MS,’ because we are all hot messes,” she laughed. The team is composed of family members and friends.
“Riding with our team—it felt like such unity and such a force. We were all so amazingly connected by our determination to stop this disease.”
When asked to reflect on the best and worst parts of living with MS, she said “the worst is worrying that my kids might also be diagnosed some day.”
And the best? “The strength I have found.”
HELP US ENSURE CLARISA’S CHILDREN LIVE IN A WORLD FREE OF MS.
Make a gift of $35 or more to your favorite Bike MS Oregon team, individual, or to Clarisa and HOT MS.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helen is an attorney who currently investigates civil rights complaints for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. She also teaches a course in disability law, which is a subject she understands from both an intellectual and personal level. Helen writes, reads and gardens as much as possible and, as she told us, “I love doing volunteer work for the chapter.”