By Amy Bowman, Open Arms volunteer
In 2006, Amy A. started noticing symptoms including tremors, and sensitivity to heat, odors and music tones. Two years later her muscle control had become so compromised that she was no longer able to apply her own makeup. In 2008 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and has experienced many ups and downs since.
Nowadays Amy gets around using a walker and even the simplest of tasks, like getting dressed, take a lot of time and energy. A couple years ago, she lost her job and moved in with her mother and stepfather, who are able to help care for her during the majority of the year.
But during the winter months, things get a little harder as her mother and stepfather head to a warmer climate. Her mother, who normally cooks Amy’s meals, worries when they are away. But that’s where Open Arms comes into Amy’s story and helps her stay independent during the winter.
For several months out of the year for the past few years, Open Arms has provided Amy with well-rounded, delicious meals, delivered to her door. “It has been wonderful,” said Amy. “Open Arms’ deliveries include foods that I otherwise wouldn’t eat – like African dishes and spicy Latino meals. I eat healthy salads and get to enjoy a few treats including French bread and macaroons.”
Amy said that the portion sizes are perfect and the food delivered is enough to get her through the week. “Although I wouldn’t mind receiving six macaroons instead of two,” she said, laughing. In addition to enjoying the food, Amy looks forward to seeing Nancy, who regularly delivers the meals. “Nancy is so sweet,” said Amy. “I really appreciate that she takes the time to deliver food – it really makes me feel loved.”
Although Amy appreciates Open Arms, she said that initially it was difficult to ask for help. “I was embarrassed and didn’t want to admit how much MS had taken over my life,” she said. “But the reality is that this disease affects every single part of my day, 24-7.”
In addition to eating healthy, Amy manages MS through acupuncture, physical therapy and stretching. Thanks to a breakthrough medical treatment that she recently underwent, Amy has seen her symptoms decrease significantly, allowing her to be more active without the extreme fatigue. “This new treatment has been a miracle,” she said. “It’s really given me hope. My goals this year are to be able to get dressed without sitting down and to dance at my son’s wedding. Someday I want to be able to ride my bike and to ski with my grandchildren. I have a positive vision for my future.”
By donating to Open Arms, you help neighbors like Amy stay independent and manage their illnesses. Make a year-end gift to support nutritious meals for people living with life-threatening illnesses>>