Ask the Authors: Nancy

"When I was first diagnosed with MS, I was married to my first husband. I was at a vulnerable time in my life, and I really needed his support. Unfortunately, I didn't get it," recalls Nancy. "One week after I was diagnosed, I was having dinner with my husband. I realized I truly despised being alone with him. He was so mean. He was so selfish. He was all about how this disease was going to affect him and his life. All of a sudden, it became a very black and white situation for me. If you stay in this marriage, your health is going to deteriorate, and you're
not going to be a mom for your kids. I was not going to let this person ruin my life. I finally realized, in reading all the books about my disease, as any disease, stress will kill you."

 

Nancy divorced her first husband and married Ken. "I am so fortunate today. I'm married to the greatest man who is so supportive of me. When I told him I had MS, he wanted to educate hi

mself about the disease. It's wonderful to have a man who shares that with me," she says. "When any family member has an illness, everybody in the family has the illness. You live with all the parts of it and have it right with them."

 

After being diagnosed, Nancy learned everything she could about her disease. "My life has really changed. I eat differently. I take vitamins. I exercise. I just had twins two years ago," she shares.

Nancy also realized the importance of spending her days doing something that brings her pleasure. "I started designing a line of jewelry called Peace and Love Jewelry by Nancy Davis," she says. Every year, she puts on the Race to Erase MS, a charity event which has raised $32,000,000 toward finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.

Nancy has also created the My Very Necessary Medical I.D. Card. "In any kind of emergency situation, everybody looks at your wallet, and by having this card saying what your name is, what medical condition you have, who to call, it's such a wonderful way to be proactive," she explains.

 

As she learned to accept her disease, Nancy was inspired to write Lean on Me. "It is very much like the 12-step Program,

" she says. "I am so overwhelmed with the response. It has helped so many different people in ways that I never could have even dreamed of."

 

Nancy recognizes that her mental health plays an important role in managing her illness. "When coping with a life-altering disease, it's really important to have a positive attitude," she says. "All of my doctors think I'm a miracle. My life is better today than it was before I was diagnosed with MS."

Nancy joins Dr. Phil, Nicole and Sal onstage. "You did take control and started asking the right questions," Dr. Phil says.

 

"When I was first diagnosed, the doctor who diagnosed me told me I should go home and go to bed forever, that I would never walk again, and the most that I could look forward to in my life was being able to operate the remote control," Nancy recalls. "I had three young sons. I wanted to live life." She explains that she obtained other opinions and started asking a lot of questions. "The prognoses were completely different from every doctor," she remembers.

 

"How big of a deal was the stress for you with your first husband?" Dr. Phil asks. "You said it was clear that was making you sicker, because he was angry about this, much like [Sal] is angry about it now."

 

"When I was diagnosed, I was so vulnerable. I really needed someone to lean on, basically, and I found out I didn't have that," Nancy says. Turning to Nicole and Sal, she says, "I did not have a partner like you have a good partner who seems to really care about you, and he really wants to help you, and I think that's so admirable."

 

Facing Nicole, Dr. Phil says, "You truly have a good and solid relationship. You don't question that he loves you."

 

"No," Nicole says.

 

To Sal Dr. Phil asks, "You don't question that you want this situation to work, right?"

 

"Of course," Sal agrees.

Dr. Phil addresses Sal. "You're really angry about this, and I truly get that," he says. "There's a progression that you go through with several steps, that kind of brings people to a point of resolution and acceptance. In my view, you're stuck on anger, and whether you like it or not, whether you want to admit it or not, you are

contributing to this disease pattern." He asks, "Do you think that she doesn't feel guilty about this? When she sees you upset, when she sees you suffering, when she sees the children, and you don't have the ability to get up and go do, it's easy to feel guilt about that. If you're then angry about it, that just kind of pours gas on that fire, and that all just translates into stress, which changes [Nicole] biochemically." Dr. Phil tells Sal he has to decide if he wants to be part of the problem or part of the solution. "At this point you're some of both," he says.

 

Turning to Nancy, Dr. Phil says, "You talk in Lean on Me, that you have to embrace the disease. It's there. It's not going away."

"I'm fine with it," Nicole says.

"But you've got to get around it as a couple," Dr. Phil tells her.

"I don't know how to help him to get to where I am," Nicole says.

"What is your biggest fear for your wife?" Dr. Phil asks Sal.

"That one day we're going to wake up, and she's not going to be able to get up out of bed. That she's not going to be able to take care of the kids at all," he says. "I hope I'll be strong enough to deal with it, but I'm scared to death of that day."

 

"The number one stress that people endure in their lives is when you feel responsible for something over which you have no control," Dr. Phil tells the couple. To Sal he says, "This is a high-stress situation for you as well, because you feel like there's nothing you can do about this. What I want to tell you is that's wrong. You aren't powerless. You can affect the course of this disease as a couple." Sal will contribute either by adding stress or by calming the situation and making it better.

 

"Knowledge is power," Dr. Phil continues. "Nancy talks in her book about [how] misinformation, misdiagnosis is the number six cause of death in America, doctors just making mistakes."

 

"Ninety-five thousand people die every year from preventable medical mistakes," Nancy adds. "I have something that goes with the book that's called My Very Necessary Medical I.D. Card. Everybody should have this, especially when you have an illness." The card contains important medical information, including: what the cardholder is allergic to, what his/her disease is and whom to call in case of an emergency.

Dr. Phil suggests the couple read Lean on Me, and he offers to provide them with counseling so they can learn a strategy for dealing with the disease. "We also want to take a little pressure off of you," he tells Nicole, "so we got in

touch with the people at Merry Maids, and we've arranged for you to have housekeepers for the next year."

"Thank you," Nicole says, smiling.

Nicole and Sal agree to participate in counseling.

 

"Having something that brings you personal joy is what Nancy says is another key to happiness," Dr. Phil says. She has found joy in making jewelry. "Nancy has brought everybody in the audience today a gorgeous diamondique and sterling sliver heart. It's a necklace from her collection, Peace and Love Boutique, that she created especially for QVC." The audience members also receive a copy of Nancy's book, Lean on Me.