iBOT Personal Mobility Device
This is a story about courage, about Claire Margaret Conant (Margy) and her journey with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Written by Evan Conant – Spouse, Caregiver, Best Friend
In the beginning, Margy was a happy go lucky kid growing up in a large family with 4 other siblings. She had long blonde locks of gold with the most beautiful green eyes. Her father, Jim Keller, was a successful businessman in the cable industry. Jim juggled the challenges of a demanding career and a growing family, while relocating several times, throughout the West. Ultimately, they ended up in Colorado, which was the epicenter of the cable industry during that time. Her mother, Carol Keller, was a very busy, loving mom with a passion for the arts.
Margy experienced a wonderful, outdoor lifestyle in Colorado with no significant childhood illnesses. We met in Denver shortly after I graduated from college at the University of Colorado in Boulder. It was a rainy Wednesday night, when my Fraternity brother, friend and roommate, Clemens George, asked me if I wanted to go to a birthday party. It was for Margy. We met for the first time on that rainy night in Denver and that is where our adventure together began.
It was not until her mid 20’s that she began to experience unusual symptoms, a couple of years in to our relationship. It began with an unusual visual acuity issue and some tingling in her fingers. At the time, we were living and active outdoor lifestyle; camping, hiking, climbing mountains, skiing, snowshoeing, etc. As we all do when we are young, she ignored the symptoms for years assuming it was job related stress and computer use.
Then, the symptoms progressed to the point where fear overcame denial. My career in the 90’s relocated us to Eugene Oregon and then Portland. We were living in Portland when she started her journey through multiple physician specialists until she heard the words, “you have MS”. I had just recently proposed to Margy for marriage at the beautiful Mirror Lake on Mount Hood and we were planning a wedding in Italy the following year (5-5-1997).
Love conquers all so we moved forward with life. My career again relocated us from Portland to Orange County, where our daughter Lauren was born. Shortly after that, we moved back to Denver to be close to family and raise Lauren in the Rockies.
Margy’s disease continued to progress; from tingling to numbness to loss of dexterity in her fingers, from visual acuity to partial blindness and vertigo, from foot drop to balance issues and falling, etc. We enlisted a leading team of clinical experts from; University of Colorado Hospital, Rocky Mountain MS Center and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Little did Margy know that she grew up in a state with 3x the incidence of MS than anywhere else in the USA.
Today, Margy is confined to a wheelchair and hospital bed at our home in Lakewood Colorado. We have tried every available medication to treat her form of MS but none have done anything more than slow the progression. However, she wakes up everyday with a smile on her face and inspires all she meets. Our smart and beautiful daughter Lauren recently graduated with a biology degree from the University of Colorado and is working on ground breaking MS research.
We pray for a cure for Margy and for the next generation so that they will never fear hearing the words, “you have MS”.
Margy is looking forward to getting in the iBOT and enjoy being outside in beautiful Colorado. She has some trails in mind where she will be exploring.