More MS news articles for Jan 2002

Hicks, McRoy named Caregivers of the Year

Chris Zelk

Two local women see firsthand the troubling effects of multiple sclerosis every day, but refuse to let the illness that afflicts their husbands keep them from supporting the men they love.

Marieta Hicks of Ringgold and Margaret McRoy of Rossville were honored Dec. 12 as Catoosa County Caregivers of the Year by the Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for their ongoing commitment to the care and comfort of their husbands.

“These women have incredible responsibilities at home,” said Jeanne B. Brice, chapter programs director for the southeast Tennessee and north Georgia chapter of the NMSS. “They deserve our recognition and gratitude for what they do.”

“These gentlemen have a very progressed form of multiple sclerosis (MS),” Brice said. “The good news about a diagnosis of MS at this time in history is that there are medications that are available that can slow the progression and hopefully we will never see another generation of people who are as severely limited as these gentlemen are.”

Hicks, whose husband Dewayne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 30 in 1976, works full-time to support the couple of 31 years.

“I’ve really felt all along that I didn’t deserve this award because (Dewayne) is the trooper that manages to be able to stay by himself all day long,” Hicks said.

“I still thank the Lord every day that God gave me a wonderful husband because he’s precious, and we love each other,” she said. “We’ve been through a lot of times. I’m sure we’ll go through a lot more, but the Lord sustains us.”

Dewayne has been confined to a wheelchair for 12 years, she said.

“He’s been unable to work for over 20 years, so I’ve been the person working and taking care of him in the home,” she said. “It’s quite a taxing task to take care of everything and take care of another person.”

Hicks works full-time at Tennessee Valley Authority and gets up early to prepare her husband for the day before she leaves for work. She comes home at lunch to feed and visit with him. Their 21-year-old son, Jamison, also lives with the couple and helps care for his father.

She said her husband experienced a relapsing-remitting form of the disease in the early years following his diagnosis. He has faced a progressive form of MS since about the time he became wheelchair bound.

Hicks said her husband’s hand-eye coordination and memory have gradually diminished, making it difficult for him to find pursuits to occupy his time, such as using a computer. She said he watches television, and family friends call to visit with him.

Hicks credits the support of the MS Society, East Ridge Church of God and Tri-State Resource and Advocacy Corp. for spiritual and financial support. She also appreciates the couple’s close friends for helping them face the daily challenges of coping with the disease.

McRoy’s husband, Ernest, was diagnosed with MS in 1960 and faces a number of aggravated health issues.

The couple, married since 1948, has steadily coped with the changes and remains connected.

“You just have to take things as they come and not dwell on the bad things,” she said. “If you let yourself, you can get in bad shape, and I can’t let myself do that. He needs me, and he’s been a good husband.”

McRoy said her husband was paralyzed for six months during the year he was diagnosed. Ernest, although still plagued with minor symptoms, experienced a remission of the disease that allowed him to work for about 25 years before MS “hit with a vengeance.”

She said a number of related health problems have confined her husband to bed, and he has had to visit the hospital several times.

“He’s in bed practically all of the time until I can get some strong backs to come in and put him in his wheelchair, but then he doesn’t want to stay in it long,” she said. “It’s affected his memory, and he can’t really focus on things for long.”

The couple’s children, Susan Ponder, Carol Newman and David McRoy, help them, but McRoy, who cares for her husband around the clock, doesn’t like to bother them if she can help it “because they all work, and they all have their problems,” she said.

“We manage real well,” McRoy added. “He’s got a very good attitude and doesn’t complain. That makes it a whole lot easier on me.”