The other day, I found myself on the other end of the phone from David Osmond: husband, father, son, brother, eternal optimist, and tireless MS supporter. My body pulsed with energy excited for the discussion.
David is one of eight children of Alan and Suzanne Osmond. Alan was a member of the world-renowned Osmond Brothers band. David has achieved success as a second-generation artist, musician, musical producer, and possibly the most positive, enthusiastic person I’ve met.
We were discussing The Our Voice in Song*campaign to raise awareness of Relapsing Remitting MS.
I prepared questions to guide the conversation and had finished setting context when David launched into his experience like a run away horse. I’ve learned my lesson about trying to contain and control energy so raced to catch-up. I let go of my expectations and listened hoping to keep up and ride the wave. Below are highlights of our conversation.
Hope and Inspiration in Boston
What had David so excited, at first, was an event in Boston to inspire and share hope for those living with significant physical impairment at the hand of MS. He explained how he had been brought into the moment watching numerous people, significantly impacted by MS, being wheeled into the room. He saw smiles on faces and spoke with caregivers of people who couldn’t speak for themselves. There was a powerful Common theme. People trying to transcend their symptoms. The Great Lesson of the experience for David–to be thankful for the many blessings in life and the rich fullness he has in his life.
Seeing those people living with such grace and seeing the spark in their eyes filled him with hope and inspiration. He was there to inspire and surprised that in the end, he was the one left inspired.
The experience made him realize having relapsing MS is one of the best things that could have happened to him. Living with MS has allowed him to be thankful for every moment.
Conversation with Doctor in Jacksonville
David recently spoke with a Doctor in Jacksonville who made the point, “MS either goes one of two ways into remission or downhill.”
It made him realize that your mindset is key. It sucks to be sad, but I realize it’s a choice. I want to make the best and most of my life and circumstances.”
What was it like to hear the diagnosis, “David you have MS?” Take me to the day. What do you remember thinking and feeling?
In the moment, when I heard, ‘David it looks like this is MS.’ I sat silent. What came out first was, ‘no, it’s not.’ The wind was taken out of me by the enormity of those words. I didn’t want to accept it. Mind you David was in a wheel chair, his eyesight real blurry with Intense pain in his arms and legs.
David’s dad has primary progressive MS, so the news was a crushing blow that David didn’t want to accept. He didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him.
“I remember a flood of emotions: Anger (About the circumstance and the news), Doubt (No, I don’t have this), Fear (I am dating the woman who I want to marry, what does this mean?) Frustration (struggling with the daily activity of self care, just getting dressed.)”
“I remember trying to grasp reality and understand what the news meant. How am I going to support myself? How do I make a living?”
“In those first few months, I struggled to push forward. I remember I proposed to my wife, and she accepted. My fiance’s mother had just passed away. Yet, she was such an incredible source of encouragement and support.”
What were three conversations you had in the first month that had the most significant impacted on how you live with the disease?
“That time was such a whirl wind. I remember the conversation with my doctor. I was fighting back and pushing away. I remember conversations with my now wife, fiancé at the time. We’re together in this and not going to accept it and figure things out. I remember falling on my knee from my wheel chair and asking her to marry me.”
I was practically silent for a month: not accepting and full of stubbornness and pride. I remember conversations of treatments fearful of side effects and repercussions. I went to diet and detox center to learn about making wise choices in nutrition and supplementation.”
“I listened to countless treatment options available. I was now that sick Osmond, Everyone came to me with every treatment imaginable. I remember thinking how am I going to sift through the noise. I heard lots of non-sense.”
“I felt lots of confusion and kept myself hidden. I didn’t want a pity party. Remember thinking “How am I going to support a family?”
Your father lives with MS so you have first hand, intimate knowledge of the disease. How old were you when you learned about his MS and what do you remember? What have you learned from watching him?
“I get my stubbornness and fight from my Dad. To have his example was key. Here’s a guy who’s done it all and achieved massive success.”
“I remember the pain of him having to leave the stage when I was a little kid because of the MS.”
“To see his super optimistic example for the past 30 years has been a blessing.”
“Those conversations with my Dad early on after hearing the diagnosis were powerful; he was my example. I want to be that for my kids.”
“Our Voice in Song” Why did you write the song?
“We’re all in this together. I wrote the song “I Can Do This” as a source of hope and positivity.”
What has the response to the song been from the community?
“Phenomenal response from the community. Not just about MS but about overcoming any obstacle or circumstance. We shall over-come.”
What are the three most important things you do to live your best life with MS?
“Hope is the most important thing. I saw my brother wrestling with his son and the scene turned to bitterness. That moment resonates so strongly. It taught me that I’m not allowed to ask ‘why me’. I turn the coin over and see the other side. Life is precious and a gift to be cherished.”
“Everyday is a cross roads, we have the power to chose. I can do this needs to be reinforced every day. I took my two girls skiing this past weekend and it reinforced the point that ‘I can do it’. No matter what, I can do this. We must have faith in ourselves. Just ask the question. 90% is just showing up with a positive attitude.”
The light overcomes the dark. Hope and positivity win the day,
Please join the Our Voice in Song community*.
*Our Voice in Song is sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation the maker of the therapy GILENYA.