All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for February 2004

Barstow councilwoman faces up to new life with multiple sclerosis,46489,

Sunday, February 8, 2004
Kelly Donovan
The Desert Dispatch

Gloria Darling thought she was having a stroke Dec. 27 when she experienced a loss of vision, difficulty walking and numbness in her left arm and left leg.

A trip to the hospital that night -- her birthday -- led to a series of tests that, about a month later, revealed the cause of Darling's symptoms: multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease that affects the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

Though the businesswoman and city councilwoman says the disease has been difficult to accept, she's not letting it stop her.

"I have very high expectations, and my husband is the best partner I could have in this," she said.

She is remaining on the Council, and everything is business as usual at the three companies she owns -- Desert Signs, Darling's Bail Bonds and Darling's Paralegal and Typing Services.

"I'm still able to think and make decisions," she said.

And Darling, who has always enjoyed outdoor activities, said she plans to ride her four-wheeler again and hasn't ruled out the possibility of tackling Mt. Whitney.

But Darling, 56, is making lifestyle changes and expects to be more sedentary. The woman who once worked 16-hour days has grudgingly accepted that she needs to spend a couple hours resting in the middle of the day to avoid getting too tired.

Fatigue and difficulty maintaining balance are the worst symptoms, Darling said, although she doesn't have both symptoms all the time. Darling has gotten a wheelchair, but hopes she won't have to use it. She has been using a cane when she needs it.

Despite the challenges of the disease, Darling says she is full of gratitude. She says her husband, relatives, friends, employees, fellow Council members and even random community members she doesn't know have encouraged and supported her since the diagnosis.

"I would never want this disease, but to have it with my husband and family to support me, and to be in a community that has helped me in so many ways, I couldn't ask for better circumstances," Darling said.

Copyright © 2004, The Desert Dispatch