Up Close & Personal with Caroline Black
by Kat Mooney

This is a picture of Caroline Black.  What do you see?

I see a beautiful, feisty woman with sparkling blue eyes, great hair, and an enormous zest for life.  I also know the five-foot tiny woman who is not afraid to back down and stick up for the underdog at all costs.  She fights for what is right. She is a daughter, cousin, aunt, mother, NEW grandmother, and friend.

Caroline is my friend whom I’ve known since my early 20’s when we worked together at the Pointe St. Charles YMCA in Montreal, Quebec.  By looking at her picture alone, you wouldn’t think she would have Multiple Sclerosis, better known as MS…but she does.

On a recent shopping trip to Costco, Caroline was using the cart for balance to help her walk – it was one of her bad days. She was in a lot of physical pain and braved a    warehouse full of people to get some groceries. Moving slowly, I was beside her, and a middle-aged man who was behind us with an intense, gruff, and angered voice told her to hurry up and move as she was in his way.  I was shocked, and in true Caroline fashion, she wasn’t slow in telling him where to go and informing him that she had MS.  He later circled back to us and apologized to Caroline. As human beings, we must be kinder, more patient, and help one another.

May is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month 2021

Many people, including myself, know little if anything about MS.  It can affect anyone at any age. Sadly, a chronic condition with no cure to date.  For most people living with MS today and regularly taking their medications, the disease is NOT fatal. MS is NOT contagious or directly inherited. With more than 50 years of research, the cause of MS is still unknown. It is an autoimmune disease where the person’s immune system attacks its own tissues. It causes tremendous pain to many. MS is one of the most common neurological diseases and is considered a rare disease in North America as in other parts of the world.

According to MS Canada’s website https://mssociety.ca/about-ms,

“Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world with an estimated 90,000 Canadians living with the disease.  On average, 12 Canadians are diagnosed with MS everyday. Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 49, and the unpredictable effects of the disease will last for the rest of their lives.”

 Caroline is brave and has the attitude that she will not let this thing, referring to MS, defeat her.

“I don’t care if my fingers and legs or my brain and speech don’t work properly – as long as there is no pain, I can deal with the rest.”

The pain from MS is excruciating!

Although incredibly difficult to describe the pain, Caroline did her best to help me understand somewhat.

“The pain is like your whole body is being electrocuted.  The pain in my leg feels like it’s 300 pounds and
continually being squeezed. The pain in my hands feels like they are in an ice mold getting colder and
colder to the point where it burns.”

Caroline also shared that her doctors have informed her that at times she may experience forgetting everyday words.  She told me about a recent conversation with her doctor and kept saying back forwards when she meant to say backward.

The pain is so severe that without medication, some people living with MS have admitted to contemplating suicide as a means to stop the pain. Although this is not the case with every person, all symptoms vary. Please know that we do not advocate suicide to control pain, instead to share the significance and measurable amount of pain some individuals are living with.

For more information about MS, please contact the MS Society of Canada in your area by phone at 1-844-859-678, by email: msnavigators@mssociety.ca, or live chat mssociety.ca.

Below is an interesting timeline.