Jennifer Martel: WHY I MUCK
Jennifer Martel is a passionate mucker who walks in memory of her father, and we’re so excited to share her MuckFest® MS story with you! Be sure to scroll through the whole post to see pictures of Jennifer and her team.
My senior year of high school was a very memorable one. My mother was pregnant with my youngest brother as I was preparing to enter adulthood. I am the oldest child of seven, with 18 years between me and the youngest. What should have been a year of happy events actually turned out to be a year of mixed emotions for my family in 1991.
My father, who was 39 at the time, began experiencing numbness and tingling in his hands. His walking started to become unstable, almost as if he were drunk. Many visits to his primary care physician resulted in no definitive answers other than the possibility of carpel tunnel syndrome. An MRI was out of the question due to previously being shot by a pellet gun, which lodged a pellet behind his eye. Removal was not recommended and because of the magnetic imaging, he could not risk having the pellet move due to where it had been sitting for several years.
As his symptoms worsened, he made a visit to Brigham & Women’s Hospital. There he met a wonderful neurologist who administered a spinal tap. The spinal tap revealed a diagnosis we had never really heard much of: MS. Not only did my hardworking father of seven have multiple sclerosis, but he had Primary Progressive MS. Within a couple of years he was forced to retire from his textile printing job that he loved.
His symptoms worsened to the point where he needed a cane to help him walk. In 1994 I was blessed to have him still be able to walk me down the aisle and have our father-daughter dance. That was his best with the disease. Following would be issues with incontinence, swallowing and even breathing. In 1996, he was in a wheelchair. By 2008 he was in a long-term care facility. My mother tried to keep him at home but his care became 24/7.
He missed out on so much. He never was able to enjoy his retirement or his 5 grandchildren. His strong heart, the only part of his body unaffected by the MS, finally gave up on August 8, 2013. With his family by his bedside, he peacefully slipped away. I muck and participate in as many MS events as I can in order to honor his memory and the fight against MS. I fight so no child ever has to watch a parent suffer for so many years.