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I'm Still The Same Person!

Glenda stated passionately, "If I can get one message clear and out to everyone, it would be that 'I am the same woman I have always been.' I am NOT my disease."

(Back row left to right,
daughter Amy,
Glenda, son Jim.
Front row left to right
granddaughter Hayley
and grandson

Glenda Mays, the youngest child of ten children (eight of whom are still alive) is vivacious lovely blue-eyed blond woman who just happens to have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) six years ago clinically and only one and half years ago it was confirmed. She greeted me at her door, barefooted and comfortable in who she was. As we talked, it was clear to me that this is not how it always had been since her search began to find out what was wrong with her physically. She was written off by a neurologist as psychosomatic; her own family called her "spoiled" when she found she was exhausted during family get togethers while searching for hideaways to rest. Throughout all of this, Glenda still knew herself and knew something was not right. The first symptoms she remembers was that her feet were very hot and hurt. She would move her neck and she would feel an electrical shock trickle down through her body. She explains this as almost a "high" in its pain. All of these symptoms and more would prove out to be real when the doctors at the UCSF Hospital, MS Department came up with the confirming diagnosis of MS. Although MS is supposedly not hereditary, Glenda's second cousin and a nephew both were diagnosed with MS and the probability that this disease had victims in her parents and grandparent's era is very high. Her research has shown that statistically, this disease hits white women ages 30-50 primarily and 8% men. It also hits its victims when they are under a lot of stress. Glenda can reflect back on when her symptoms became evident. It was during a time when her personal life was under more stress than usual.

Glenda has always been an active woman. You could find her singing in her church choir, working with the children's and teen groups at her Church, holding down an outside job, working on her garden, raising two children most of her life as a single mom, being active in charitable organizations and service groups. Little did she know when she lovingly helped a neighbor and friend with his physical therapy for his MS that some day she would be coping with that same disease herself. She noticed that her friend didn't get many visitors. She would never have guessed that when her diagnosis became public that it would affect her social and public life as well. Glenda stated passionately, "If I can get one message clear and out to everyone, it would be that 'I am the same woman I have always been.' I am NOT my disease."

Glenda credits "Transitions," a rehabilitation therapy clinic in Gilroy with keeping her psychologically and physically in good shape. They video you when you first come in and play it back annually so you can track your own status. They have a person who calls you, makes sure you have every thing you need for future appointments, a speech therapist, physical therapist, psychologist and more. They evaluate two MS patients per month. She has also learned that it is okay to depend on helpful tools such as canes and walkers. Since she is not always stable on her feet and her knees were tired of catching her when she fell, Glenda uses a cane sometimes. If she goes for walks, she will use a walker and when she shops her favorite discount store, she drives their little scooters around the store. To find out more about Transitions contact them at 408/842-6868 or stop by their facility at 7101 Monterey Street, Gilroy. Their specialty is comprehensive rehabilitation.

Glenda is starting up a Tri-County MS Support Group. She goes on to explain "I wanted to start a support group locally so that other people with MS can get together and validate their fears, aches and disease with others who are going through the same thing." "I pretty much went through my realization and research alone" admitted Glenda. "It is so much easier for people to have others who understand and don't judge." This group's charter is to share information that Glenda has researched and to validate each other. There is no religious affiliation so everyone should feel comfortable at the meetings. When she was researching the need for support groups, she found that Santa Cruz just disbanded one and that Monterey has a group, but these were located about 45 minutes away. Glenda stated that the Aromas Library has donated a space and time for her group to meet. Since the Library has handicap parking accessibility, it is a perfect place to meet. Here is Glenda's appeal! Anyone who is interested in attending an MS support group to please call her at 726-2938, fax her at 726-2056 or email her at LuLuMays@webtv.net. When she gets some response then she will schedule the library room and notify everyone on time and dates. If you live closer to Seaside, the Monterey MS Support Group meets at Oldemeyer Center at Hilby Avenue, Seaside. You can call their coordinator, Gene Harter at 800-900 6645. In addition to the support group, you will find Glenda back in our midst as a featured storyteller at the Aromas Library where she will share her love of magic and clowning with the Aromas children. END

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