They say life is a journey, an incredible journey filled with bumps, detours and roadblocks.
They say life is also full of surprises, some good, some bad, some not good or bad, but simply surprises.
For William R. T. Boulton, author of the book ‘I Miss Me’, the fact he even wrote a book was such a surprise.
He was, after all, in his early 20s and the vision of his life certainly did not include becoming a writer.
But for Boulton, a 20-something personable young man, with a charming smile and a wry, but delightful wit, the book came on the heels of another surprise.
He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
He was diagnosed at a time when life should have been full of promise and hopes and dreams yet to be lived. He was diagnosed when he was young enough and naïve enough to take his health for granted.
In the foreword of his book, Boulton talks briefly of his childhood.
“I grew up with a farm background surrounded by family, friends and love. The constant hard work year after year imprinted on me a do-or-die work ethic. I cannot exactly pinpoint the time in life when the naiveté of innocence shifted towards a clear vision of the struggle and hardships of life, changing my mind to fight for everything, even to afford a cup of coffee on a few occasions.”
Boulton spoke at an almost deserted Rimbey library last Thursday. At least two of the people in the audience had MS, but even though they are, no doubt, going through their own journey, they understood only too well the meaning of title of Boulton’s book.
The young author was invited to come to the library to promote his book and speak about multiple sclerosis, as May is MS awareness month.
Boulton, however, spoke about much more than his book, and his talk was inspirational and informative. He explained the symptoms of MS; the different types of the disease and how it can affect individuals in a number of ways.
“It’s a very frustrating disease. I could go on day and night about the symptoms,” he said.
While MS has been attributed to genetics, geography and environment there is no definite conclusion as to the cause. There is no cure.
Boulton agrees there is not enough evidence to support any one cause, but he believes stress plays a major role.
He said when he was diagnosed he was successfully failing a company. While he gave the statement a humorous angle, his underlying seriousness was evident.
After talking about MS, which is basically a disease of unknowns, Boulton began telling his own story; a story which precipitated the writing of the book, I Miss Me.
His MS symptoms made themselves known one night when he was playing pool with his father downstairs.
“It was the worst game of my life,” he said, noting the loss of feeling in his legs that happened that night was alarming to both himself and his father.
The feeling of numbness proved to a turning point in his life, and although it was not until sometime later it was confirmed, Boulton had suffered his first symptoms of MS.
From there, the journey became unpredictable; full new challenges and tests that most people do not have to even think about taking, much less passing or failing.
At one point his feeling returned and, naturally, he was elated.
“I was phoning everybody, even strangers,” he said. “I can feel again. I was thankful and grateful and ready to begin living again.”
But, his exuberance was short lived.
He woke up one morning with double vision and no sense of taste. And then with the speed of an out-of-control train, his life changed again. By October of that hear he was in the Red Deer Hospital, not being able to walk, talk, taste, see or hear.
And from there, his life took an unbelievable twist.
Only weeks later, he walked out of that hospital.
In fact, he walked into the Rimbey library and he talked to everyone there, not only about MS and his book, but also about his incredible journey which is full of inspiration, love, courage and faith.
Boulton’s father, David wrote a poem called Angel during his son’s episode in the hospital. The poem was put to music and recorded by William’s sister Randi.
In a prelude in his book she said the song describes William’s experiences along with the notion that although humans do have a fighting spirit, faith and hidden angels above may help throughout great times of need.
And, no doubt, it was this faith coupled with the attitude not to let any challenge defeat him, William Boulton found what he was looking for.
He found himself!