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'An educating disease'A Bainbridge man is this year's honoree for the MS benefit walk.
"A Bainbridge man is this year's honoree for the Kitsap County Walk to benefit Multiple Sclerosis research.Being the honoree, Tom Davis said, allows him to, speak to the volunteers and let them know what a good thing that they are doing.Davis has lived a life full of physical and intellectual adventure. In high school, he was a swimming champion. He earned a master's degree in romance languages and literature from the University of Washington and speaks, reads and writes Spanish fluently. While living in Honduras for a year and a half, he participated in an underwater archeological expedition as a diver, photographer and translator. He has also worked as a carpenter and auto mechanic.In 1979, Davis said MS symptoms began to appear with tingling in his hands and feet. It just came out of the sky, said Davis of the disease. The disabling disease affects the nervous system, and can cause numbness in the limbs, paralysis or loss of vision.At first, Davis said, doctors dismissed his symptoms. But when they persisted, he underwent more tests and in 1980 just after New Year's Eve, I saw double for a week and that really confirmed it, he said. I was starting to have trouble walking a bit and after that, since I couldn't really be a carpenter anymore, I was a proofreader for the Review.Davis said the biggest misconception of the disease people have of MS is that they confuse it with Jerry's Kids. They think something is missing (in the body), he said, but it is just being recalibrated. MS has not slowed Davis down.He regularly visits the Poulsbo Athletic Club, where he does weight-bearing exercises. He also rides horseback.I've learned that I have a lot more personal resources then I ever believed I had before, Davis said. MS made me give up physical activity and change over to mental activity much more.The thing is, when you have MS, almost nothing comes naturally. You are thinking all the time about each move you make, how you reach out and grab for something, how you walk, or how you operate your wheelchair - a view, which no one who is not affected by the disease or any disability is able to understand. Multiple sclerosis is a very educating disease.Davis - who now telecommutes for Microsoft from his home - credits his cheerful and inspirational attitude to a good upbringing and participation in support groups. This is life and life goes on for a certain period of time, and then it's gone, Davis said. So you've got to do your best while your still here. "