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Stop snoozing the MS alarm

By Dan Digmann

I stood in the hotel parking lot and stared at the vibrant video scoreboard that towered over the walls of nearby Dow Diamond.

The home field for the Great Lakes Loons minor league baseball team was a mere two-block walk from where Jennifer and I were staying with my sister and her family. They had travelled from Iowa to visit us here in Michigan. 

Everything was in order to move forward with our family plan:
  • Dawn, her husband, Mike, and 10-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, would drive to Jennifer and my home in Michigan.
  • We’d caravan 35 minutes to Midland, check into the hotel near Dow Diamond, and walk to watch our beloved Loons play the Lansing Lugnuts Saturday night.
  • When the game and post-game fireworks were over, we’d walk back to the hotel, spend the night, get up Sunday morning, and then walk back over for the early Sunday afternoon game.

But on that Saturday afternoon, as the rest of my family already had proceeded to check into the hotel, I paused to stare at the scoreboard two blocks south of where I stood. 

Multiple sclerosis had activated the alarm that cast doomsday doubts into my head.

“Sure, Dan, it is only two blocks away, but are you sure you can handle the walk in this 90-degree heat? Then, once you’re at the game, you’ll still have to brave the stifling temperature until the sun goes down; be strong enough to help Jennifer – who also is living with MS – to transfer from her power wheelchair should she need to use the restroom; and then walk two blocks from the ballpark back to the hotel when the game is finished.”


Defeated, I shared these all-too-real fears with Jennifer, and then with Dawn, and they supported my proposal to not take any chance of MS-related mishaps and, rather than walking, drive less than a quarter of a mile over to Dow Diamond. 

As we passed through the hotel’s automatic sliding glass doors and into the parking lot, I stopped and stared at the behemoth baseball stadium scoreboard one last time. I asked myself, “How are you going to respond to this MS alarm this time, Dan? Are you just going to snooze it again or are you going to take charge?

I put the van keys back into my pocket.

“You know what, guys? I’ve got this. Let’s just walk over. I’ll be fine. And if I’m not, it won’t be too much for Dawn or Mike to come back and get the van, right?”

And so, we walked to the game. In the 90-degree summer sun. And everything went just fine in spite of my MS-facilitated fears.

Was there the potential of everything that caused me to second-guess myself actually happening? Absolutely. But rather than permitting MS to scare me into submission with its over-reactive alarm, I willed myself to take a chance and got on with my life.

Living with MS truly is a balancing act that involves weighing the good and the bad. The pros and the cons. Best return on investments and worst-case scenarios.

Yes, MS is strong and capable of pulling out unimaginable surprises. But you know what? So are you.

This doesn’t mean you take on everything by yourself. The key is knowing what you are capable of doing and surrounding yourself with the people who can help to tip the scales in your favor. 

I knew I had Jennifer’s faith in me, and Dawn and Mike’s strength on my side should anything go terribly wrong. MS wasn’t going to win in my family’s games with the Great Lakes Loons. 

I took heed to the MS alarm and internalized it as my wake-up call so that the thought of walking two blocks didn’t have me figuratively running scared. No, I did not snooze the MS alarm this time. I instead shut it off and am actively taking better care of myself. This includes getting more sleep, following a better diet and walking each day to be in better physical shape.

After all, Jennifer and I have tickets to see my all-time favorite musician, Bruce Springsteen, in Detroit next March. Our hotel is a 15-minute walk from the concert venue, so I need to be ready.