Strength Through Struggle
MEET STAN CROYDON
When were you diagnosed with MS and what was the first thing you did after you found out?
Diagnosed in 1975, first symptoms in 1967. A shrink figured out I had MS when I mentioned 2 other symptoms, double vision and Belles Palsy 2 other doctors treated me for. I was seeing the shrink because I began to question my sanity given the weird symptoms with no clear Dx! Professional that the shrink was he didn't say he thought I had MS but sent me back to the neurologist for what he assumed would be the proper Dx after he called that doctor after I left that day to alert him as to what he needed to be looking for. Only that SOB only said I probably had a mild disease and to not worry about it unless I couldn't walk. That's when I should make another appointment! I was in such a state of shock and didn't ask any questions... The first case I read was about a Navy Doctor seeking a disability retirement and I had all his symptoms and he had MS! That year the only think I knew about MS was that Howard Cosell, the ABC sportscaster with the horrible toupee, was the honorary fundraised for the MS Society and I figured if Howard was trying to come up with money to solve my medical problems I HAD TO BE IN BIG TROUBLE! So my diagnosis was a self diagnosis! Howard's secretary had MS and he was just trying to his part to bring in money to find a cure!
What advice would you give to someone just finding out they have MS?
Check in with the local MS support groups. Find a neurologist that is a specialist in MS. And get on one of the new MS drugs IMMEDIATELY. My wife and I were at an MS function today and heard a researcher explain how many lesions a person not on one of their drugs might get when compared to someone on one of the drugs, it was like a dozen lesions to NONE over the course of a few months!
What is something good that came out of your MS diagnosis?
When I mentioned my Dx to someone at Justice where I was working as an attorney I was put in touch with someone else there who also had it. He was none other than the person who created and then ran forever 30 years their Witness Protection Program that found new identities for nasty criminals who were turning against their criminal cohorts and then needed new identities to avoid being killed!
What is your morning routine?
Get up, get dressed, figure out what I need to do that day. I tend to ignore the fact I have MS but in the 49 years I've had it I've gone to just tripping and falling to getting a 3 wheel electric scooter. I also try to see how I can help my wife of 48 years; she has fibromyalgia.
How has MS affected your daily life?
We didn't know I had MS when we adopted our first baby in 1970. It was 9 years later when we tried for a second baby and made sure to point out my Dx to the agency. It certainly made adopting our 2nd and 3rd babies a lot more complicated. Since babies were harder to adopt in 1979 we figured 2 would be all we ever got only the birth mom of the second baby went and had another baby 3 years later and asked Catholic Charities to try and place the new baby with her sibling - and that meant with us!
We got a call out of blue and informed we could come in 2 days later and take home a 5 week old baby girl. I first thought of her as the ultimate in unplanned children but then switched to "our bonus baby" when I learned there would be a chance for the second one!
Can you remember your saddest memory of your life?
Finding out if we wanted a family we had better adopt our kids. Learning I had 2 different bosses who thought it was easier to fire me that find accommodate to help me do my job better. Feeling so bad that I had to put my wife thought so much stress because of all the problems my body has caused us. I guess there was a fair amount of disappointment in realizing I wouldn't be a "real attorney" but if I had been one I would have had my first major MS attack delivering my closing argument to a jury.
Can you remember the happiest moment of your life?
Getting my full tuition scholarship to the college of my choice. Getting credit for devising the plan needed to rescue a $20 million orbiting solar observatory satellite in 1969 and then getting my boss at IBM to pay for my law school tuition without any obligation to continue working there after I passed the Bar exam! Marrying my wife 48 years ago. Putting together all the hardware and software needed to create what was the first talking computer that let our 3 blind lawyers at Justice do their own legal research without any assistance. Naturally adopting our 3 kids, all of who would up with better doctor excuses for their problems that I have for mine! The mother of one found her/our daughter 15 years ago and admitted she smoked 3 packs of cigarettes when pregnant. The mother of the second gave birth to her son in the family room of her father's home and then gave her second baby a defective gene that causes something called Ehlers Danlos Syndrom. All that took a lot out of me financially and emotionally. There's more but you can see I've been very fortunate!
What is the greatest achievement you have done since being diagnosed and how were you able to achieve it?
It took 8 years before I got the diagnosis but in that time I got though law school, got credit for rescuing the satellite, was the section chiefs of a staff at Justice that netted then government over $100 million in bigger fines and/or more favorable verdict and settlements.
Any other thoughts you would like to share?
I can't forget that I have MS. I have to always be thinking about taking care of myself. I had soooo much potential in life and I often wonder what my life would have been like if I didn't have MS. The subtitle I have for my memoirs says it all! It is, "If God only gave me problems in life He thought I could handle, I sure wish He had a whole lot less confidence in me!" Nonetheless, I have really had an incredible life!