This is MY journey with MS! I give you my thoughts, feelings, hopes, and prayers. My wish that one day this disease will come to an end. That one day there will be a cure. For now, I hold on to possibility. I HOPE this will help and inspire not only myself but others.
 
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Shocking! (I appologize now at how long this is, but it is VERY important. Please read...especially if you have a teenager)

Okay, so this is not something I would normally have on my MS blog, however I think it is so important. Tyra Banks conducted a study with 10,000 girls and young women and the results are shocking! I would encourage every parent to watch this video and speak to your children. Matt Lauer opens the video stating if you have a teenage girl. Clearly this is relevant to any teenager no matter what the gender. Please watch.....



Now I feel that I should discuss this. Normally it is not the type of thing I would have on my blog. Talk about sex, teen pregnancy and the like. However, this issue is oh so important. I know first hand because I got pregnant at 17 and had my son at 18. Please don't take anything the wrong way as I discuss this because I have no regrets in regards to my decision of having my son and keeping him. However I feel it is important to be open and honest about how that decision changed my life. I love my son more than anything and am happy to have had the opportunity to have him, because for those of you who know me, he was my only opportunity.

I am not sure how many or if any teenagers out there will read this, but if you are a parent reading this, I would encourage you to talk to them...or have them read this....if preferable, have them contact me through my email. I would be happy to talk to them. Having sex at such a young age brings on consequences that you just can not imagine. Now, I know...there are so many rationalizations as to why it is okay. You may feel you are old enough, mature enough, worried that your boyfriend won't like you anymore. Your self-esteem may be destroyed because you grew up in a family who neglected you, you were a victim of molestation or rape, or some other type of abuse. These are all common reasons why someone would get involved in such a grown up act without the ability to understand what they are really getting into.

Then there are those who just don't really understand because they have not been taught one way or another. Sometimes not saying anything does just as much damage (in the instance of teaching abstinence only) as saying too much. There is a fine line. Of course you don't want to encourage your child to have sex...that is not what talking to them does. But, it is important they they fully understand the consequences and feel comfortable enough to have someone to go to. There is a real problem in this country and our children and grandchildren are the ones who will suffer, many times not realizing the problem until it is too late to do something about it.

Then there is the responsibility factor. Parents need to take more responsibility to teach their kids what the facts are, what the options are, and pray that they will make the right decisions. Being teenagers though, they are likely to screw up and so it is important they know that even if they do screw up you are there for them. Then there is the responsibility of the schools. 14% of the girls surveyed are having sex in schools!!! These teachers and administrators need to have a better handle on what is going on during school hours. Then again, I have a major beef with the way schools are today when it comes to education and discipline, so this should not surprise me. Yet it does!

If you are a teenager reading this, please think about what it is you want in life. What kind of life do you want. I know sometimes this is hard to think of at your age, because teenagers tend to live in the moment. However, if you really think about it I bet you could then realize how that goal/dream may never become realized if you have sex at your age.

When I was 12 I started to work at a doctor's office. My mother was the office manager and she got me a job working in the summer and on holiday breaks helping with medical records and purging charts when a new doc was brought into the practice. Not many kids get such an opportunity. After working there for a while, I wanted to go to University of Washington and get my nursing degree. I loved the nurses at the office and really looked up to them. As I got a bit older, and after a relationship that just about killed me, I wished I would have done things differently and went to Law school. You may have what you want to do with your life all figured out, or you may change what you want to do several times.

The reality however is that none of that is likely to happen if you have a baby as a teenager or get an STD. Not to say that having an STD would prevent you from going to college or getting a good job, but then again it all depends on what you want to do. Besides, no matter what you want out of life, my guess is a STD is not one of them. I don't know if you realize it but your risk of HIV is higher once you have had an STD. Also, your risk of some cancers are higher. Do you really want to take that chance? Well, you probably think to yourself, that will never happen to me. Let me tell you what it is like. I love my son more than anything and I am glad that I had him. However it was not easy. And, I was one of the lucky ones. I have parents who have been there every step of the way.

When I was 17 I got pregnant by a guy that I thought was the love of my life. A couple of months into my pregnancy he started cheating on me, hitting me...he was not a nice man. For a while I thought I had to stay with him and just put up with it because I loved him and he said he loved me. Not to mention I was having his baby, so I couldn't leave. I was wrong. The first time he beat me after my son was born I left. This is not always the way it happens. Sometimes the father is a good guy and does stick around, other times he leaves but is not abusive...just wants his own life. Anyway you look at it more times then not you will end up a single mom. So, what happens to your goals, your dreams? They are put on hold. If he does stay with you what happens to his goals and dreams? They are also put on hold.

If you are lucky (as I was) you will have some kind of work experience and the ability to get a job. Otherwise, you will have to rely on government programs to help pay for child care, medical care, and possibly food and rent. More times then not you will not graduate from high school and if you are determined one day will get your GED. I did get mine and put myself through college. Only I was not able to afford to go to law or nursing school. I was only able to put myself through a 2 year program where I also worked and took up to 20 credits a semester in order to get done quick because I have a child to support. Don't get me wrong, I value and cherish the education I have, this is just to help you understand that the decision to have a baby changed what I was able to accomplish in my life.

When your child is a baby, you will have many sleepless nights, you will worry, you will not have the opportunity to enjoy college like your friends, or go to parties, clubs, and experience the life that every 18-25 year old should get the chance to enjoy. You will be at home changing diapers. You will get a bit of a break when your child enters school, but then there are other things that will come up. Homework. Will you be able to help your child do homework when (s)he gets older knowing how much it has changed and that you did not finish school? Will you have the time or energy because you will be tired? It is hard enough for those couples who have a good education and job, a home of their own, and are married. How will it be for you as a single parent, making not much more than minimum wage? It will be difficult. Sure, you can do it but it is not easy. The reality is that it will never be perfectly easy. However if you wait there will come a day when you are ready to have a child and can support them better. You can afford to take time off, and your husband can help out.

These are all things I have had to struggle with as a single mom, and I have had it easier than many people I know who had kids at a young age. There was a girl I was friends with growing up who had her first baby at 15 and her second at 17. Although she was able to get some education (got a CNA license) her and her kids are still living at home with her parents even though her oldest is now in high school and she is over 30 years old. Even as a CNA, she was unable to make it work on her own. Another friend has struggled financially, never getting her GED because she never had the time. She was able to get a home and vehicle, the state helped her with childcare and medical but she made things work. She is 31 and just recently got to a place where she is really happy. I know of another girl, who I did not grow up with but met later on, who had two kids, never finished school, did not have a lot of support from family, and to this day relies on government programs to help her kids. Due to the depression she felt she also got involved with drugs and it took her a long time to get her life together....she still struggles.

Now, I know you probably read this and think well that will never happen to me. I hope you are right. I hope you are smart enough to realize that it is just too dangerous to have sex at your age. Not only is there the risk of pregnancy, and I know there are a few of you out there who are thinking I can have an abortion or give it up for adoption...and those are options, but remember if you have an abortion you have to live with that decision the rest of your life as well. It's not as easy to get over as you may think, and although adoption is another option, you would still have to put your life on hold for awhile, explain to everyone around you your reasoning for having a baby, getting pregnant, and there is still the very dangerous risk of an STD.

Now I know that (if you are a teenager) you may be thinking, lady, you don't know what you are talking about, but I do. I have been there and done it all. There is not much that would shock me actually. Some things of my own doing, some because I was forced to do so. I encourage any parents reading this to take time out to talk to your kids about this. Have them watch Tyra's show on Friday. TiVo it if you must. If they don't feel they can talk to you encourage them to talk to someone else. If you are a teenager reading this and you don't know who to talk to or where to go, email me. I would rather you contact me then do something you will someday regret.

I hope this helps! Please take care of yourselves.

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I was diagnosed with MS in 2004, have been through all of the FDA approved treatments I qualify for and now am participating in the HALT MS Study. This is my story...my life with MS (among other things).

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