Mr., Mrs. and MS
Tuesday, May 25, 1999
By JERRY WARD, EDMONTON SUN
Most couples would find the prospect of a marriage daunting enough. But Paul Greig and Meggie Dunsmore have conquered bigger hurdles than nervous in-laws.
Both bride and groom are stricken with debilitating multiple sclerosis, which attacks a person's central nervous system.
The city couple, who met playing cribbage in their assisted living complex, plan to exchange wedding vows Saturday at Sacred Heart church before about 40 family and guests.
"It was love at first sight," said Dunsmore, 49.
The AISH recipients became roommates in April because of their friendship and "to save on rent," quipped Greig, 54.
"We were so lonely," he later admits. "And we were only 100 feet away from each other (in separate quarters)."
Greig proposed last month while they were sharing a laugh in his apartment, where he lives with his love.
"He said 'Let's get married' and I said OK," Meggie recalled. "It was the most natural thing."
Greig adds: "I couldn't get down on my knee because I wouldn't be able to get back up."
Sclerosis slows or blocks the transmission of nerve impulses in the body, producing a crippling, numbing sensation.
Dunsmore was diagnosed with MS, which affects one out of 1,600 people, in 1986. Women are inflicted 60% of the time and Alberta has the highest rate in the world.
"There was obviously a problem," Dunsmore said, conceding she often asked herself, "What did I do to deserve this?"
She also spent a lot of time asking God how fate could strike one family twice - her older sister has also been diagnosed with MS.
But soon the former Mount Royal College dental assistant grad started to "make the best of it." Today, she gets around on a scooter, most days volunteering at local malls selling car raffle tickets - one of the daily chores the former farm girl has "to make a life for myself."
Greig was diagnosed in 1995 as having secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, after years as a milk truck driver and other jobs behind the wheel.
He had "no inkling" of his condition until that time, though symptoms showed much earlier.
"In 1978 I recall falling down the stairs and up the stairs and wondered why," said Greig, adding he was always tired.
This will be his third marriage, but only the first time he is going into a relationship knowing he has the disease.
"MS won't kill you, but it can certainly change your life in a hurry," said Greig, who also has arthritis. Sufferers have to wrestle with anger, depression and other mood swings. "It's a real character builder," said Greig.
To overcome that, he said they have "taken control of our minds and don't buy into" disabled stereotypes. They won't even discuss the surprise some experience when they hear the pair will marry.
Greig also volunteers selling raffle tickets."We've taken charge of our own lives," he says.
The couple uses humour "to get around MS moments," when things don't run smoothly, said Greig. "Humour has been our strength. (MS) is serious, but you can't change it."
The fact they found each other despite what most would see as an obvious
impediment to romance isn't lost on Greig, who simply says, "There's somebody