Gary and Kris with their accessible van in front of their church.
I made an appointment with my dentist, assuming I had an infected tooth. After my dentist checked my teeth and gums and found no problems, he suggested I see my family physician. My doctor checked me and also found no problems, so he suggested I see a neurologist. The neurologist saw me, then ordered a battery of tests at the hospital. When I had my follow-up appointment with him, he informed me that I had MS.
My only exposure to MS before this had been through a church friend, when my wife and I were living in Houston. We watched our friend’s deterioration over the last two years we lived there. Later we learned of her move back to her home area, to be around family, and of her eventual death. What a thing to look forward to!
As I began to learn more about MS, I felt a little better, however, since statistics show that people with MS can live a long life. Usually, when God calls you home, I learned, it is due to another cause, perhaps related, but not MS itself.
Life has had its struggles—losing my job because of MS (they say otherwise), the humiliating fact of going on disability, and watching other folks go to work each day, while here I sit.
I have found my disability a little easier to face through volunteering with Hospice of Lancaster County and joining a support group for folks with MS. I have been greatly encouraged by support from friends and my church family at Forest Hills Mennonite. They started a support group to help me and my family, as needed.
I now have a power wheelchair that I use if I need to be on my feet longer then fifteen or twenty minutes. My insurance was willing to pay for the power chair but, as is typical, it would not pay for a way to transport it. The support group and other friends joined together to purchase a used van for me, so now I can take my power chair wherever I need it.
Gary Long and his wife Kris attend Forest Hills Mennonite Church, Leola, Pa.