Multiple Sclerosis Has Nothing On Love

I remember when it first happened. The year was 2003, and Juren (my then girlfriend) was visiting me in New York. I was performing on Broadway almost every night of the week with an incredible cast. My career was finally getting started and on Valentine’s Day of that year, I asked the lady that I loved to marry me. My life could not have been better. Waking up every morning seemed to be when my dreams actually started. Except on this day, my life took a turn. And at first, we were left totally unprepared.

I still remember how small my apartment was in Brooklyn. The best word to describe it would be: closet. Yes, my apartment was a very expensive closet that had a kitchen, a wall and a bedroom. So when I heard Juren scream, it sounded like she was right next to me. I ran into the bedroom to find her in bed, motionless. She said that she couldn’t move her legs. This had to be a joke, right? What did she mean she could not move her legs? Unfortunately, it was not a joke. My soon-to-be wife could not move her legs. Not knowing what else to do, we got her an emergency flight back to Los Angeles. The next few days seemed like a nightmare. Here I was living the fantasy of performing live on Broadway and the love of my life was at home in L.A. trying to figure out how to walk again.

Those first couple of shows after she left had my body on stage in front of thousands of people, but my mind back home with my heart. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis shortly after arriving home. I remember her calling me and telling me the news. We both had no idea what MS was. I knew that Richard Pryor had the disease when he was alive. Juren wasn’t going to end up like that, was she? I quickly blocked that thought out of my mind and never mentioned it to Juren. She asked me if I still wanted to marry her. She said that she would understand if I backed out. I laughed. Multiple sclerosis has nothing on love! She eventually started walking again a few days after that incident. We got married on Aug. 16, 2003. I also won a Tony Award that year for our Broadway run. For the time being, life seemed to be getting back on track.


— Poetri

Multiple sclerosis has a way of operating one way on one person and yet another way on a different soul. It decided not to give her pain as much as to just stop all communication between her brain and her legs. She slowly digressed back to not walking again. Today, she is totally bedridden. However, from her bed, Juren stands tall as she is unable to contain her enthusiasm to just a pillow and blankets. She remains a voice to be reckoned with. It seems that she keeps a permanent smile on her face. I could not tell you how she does it. But, if she ever decides to bottle up her joy and put it on sale, I’m buying it. Yes, I want what she is drinking.

It’s going on a total of 13 years of treatments that didn’t work, medicines that made it worse, hardships, struggles, ups, downs and all arounds, and we are still here. We have two beautiful daughters that keep us young. Although we will never be as hip, we get the feeling that they think Mommy and Daddy are pretty cool. Our eldest daughter, Genesis, is nine and akin to a young Taylor Swift. She has a new song every week. And our youngest daughter, Journey, is six going on 36! She is forever joking. Every day when I come home from work she hides behind the door and scares me. I wonder where she gets her humour from? Ahem. After all, her daddy is only a Tony Award-winning comedian/poet. But this article is not about me. It’s not even about my wife, Juren. It’s about us. It’s about how multiple sclerosis thought it was going to come into this family and ruin it. But it has only strengthened it. Our faith has grown to new heights.

She will walk again. There is no doubt in my mind. God has told me so. And I believe His word. We are currently in Michigan for eight weeks at a training facility called Barwis Methods. They have an injury recovery program that does neurological re-engineering for MS and stroke patients. People have come here in wheelchairs and have left walking. She goes to the facility five days a week for two hours a day. The whole gym knows her as the lady that screams “Liver and onions!” when she is working out. No one knows why. The cool thing about this gym is that I get to work out as well. Since being here, I have lost about 20 pounds. But this is not about me. It is about us. We are going to come back walking and skinnier. Juren wants to dance with our children. I want to dance with her. Barwis Methods is going to make this dream come true. We are going home to surprise our daughter for her seventh birthday and stay throughout the holidays. We then come back for a final eight weeks starting in January. Get ready, world. If you think Juren was incredible NOT walking, wait till you see her when she is flying.

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