Not in our worst nightmare
could our lives turn so suddenly upside down. Just 2 weeks after the news
of our baby, disaster struck. I was so fatigued and my vision was so blurry
that I couldn't drive. My opthamologist ordered a spinal tap. I listened
from my hospital bed as a doctor explained optic
neuritis. My mind went numb when he said; "...it usually is the
precursor to multiple sclerosis. Within 2 years you could have MS."
The doctor kept me in the hospital 4 days over Christmas. I was feeling
terribly sick from the IV steroids and sunk into a depression. I kept thinking,
"How was I going to take care of my wife and baby? What is going to
happen to me? Will I get my vision back and be able to play guitar?"
completing our degrees at the University of North Texas in 1994, my
wife and I felt lucky to have jobs we loved. I was in sales and an
established musician in the Dallas area. My wife was in graphic design.
Life was great. In the fall of 1996 we decided to start trying for
a family. I had forgotten about that until one night in December when
I opened a gift from my wife and found myself holding a pair of baby
was overwhelmed with joy.
After 10 great years of marriage we were taking the next step and
it was the greatest gift.
James and Sunday LaRocca
The following months were
terrible with exacerbations and symptoms which indicated MS. I entered
a grief cycle of denial, anger, bargaining, and guilt. Amidst the emotional
turmoil and pain was a ray of light when our daughter was born in 1997.
My wife and I struggled to cope with the impact of MS on our lives. I
was still composing music, but now it was reflecting my struggle.
music became a healing process and a creative
way of helping me channel and understand the grief
In April 2000,
I had a severe flare-up with vertigo, heat intolerance, blurred
vision, and loss of sensation on my right side. It was extremely
difficult to do my job or play guitar. I had been playing guitar
and composing music since I was nine. Not being able to play or
compose was the biggest emotional struggle in my life. We also had
to learn how to manage all the emotions. In addition, we were expecting
our second baby.
prescribed one of the disease-modifying drugs. My symptoms lessened,
allowing me to keep working, be there for my family, and play guitar
again. My music had always been my passion and now it has empowered
me in a way I'd never thought. My music became a healing process
and a creative way of helping me channel and understand the grief
I realize now that
you need to use your talents or hobbies to work through the grief process.
Whether you enjoy gardening, reading, cooking or music you can find a
way to sort out and manage the emotions. It helped me rise above the depression
and find that place inside where you can say, "I have MS but it doesn't
My creative energy
has been restored. I am going on my 4th year of having no flare-ups. I
have transformed the struggle of MS into my first CD, "A Different
Road", the realization of my lifelong dream. Before, I feared I'd
never play again. Now, through my music, I can inspire others to keep