Home - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Skip to navigation Skip to content
Personal Connections to MS
James LaRocca

After completing our degrees at the University of North Texas in 1994, my wife and I felt lucky to have jobs we loved. I was in sales and an established musician in the Dallas area. My wife was in graphic design. Life was great. In the fall of 1996 we decided to start trying for a family. I had forgotten about that until one night in December when I opened a gift from my wife and found myself holding a pair of baby booties. I was overwhelmed with joy. After 10 great years of marriage we were taking the next step and it was the greatest gift.

James and Sunday LaRocca
James and Sunday LaRocca
with their children

Not in our worst nightmare could our lives turn so suddenly upside down. Just 2 weeks after the news of our baby, disaster struck. I was so fatigued and my vision was so blurry that I couldn't drive. My opthamologist ordered a spinal tap. I listened from my hospital bed as a doctor explained optic neuritis. My mind went numb when he said; "...it usually is the precursor to multiple sclerosis. Within 2 years you could have MS." The doctor kept me in the hospital 4 days over Christmas. I was feeling terribly sick from the IV steroids and sunk into a depression. I kept thinking, "How was I going to take care of my wife and baby? What is going to happen to me? Will I get my vision back and be able to play guitar?"

The following months were terrible with exacerbations and symptoms which indicated MS. I entered a grief cycle of denial, anger, bargaining, and guilt. Amidst the emotional turmoil and pain was a ray of light when our daughter was born in 1997. My wife and I struggled to cope with the impact of MS on our lives. I was still composing music, but now it was reflecting my struggle.

"My music became a healing process and a creative way of helping me channel and understand the grief cycle."

In April 2000, I had a severe flare-up with vertigo, heat intolerance, blurred vision, and loss of sensation on my right side. It was extremely difficult to do my job or play guitar. I had been playing guitar and composing music since I was nine. Not being able to play or compose was the biggest emotional struggle in my life. We also had to learn how to manage all the emotions. In addition, we were expecting our second baby.

My neurologist prescribed one of the disease-modifying drugs. My symptoms lessened, allowing me to keep working, be there for my family, and play guitar again. My music had always been my passion and now it has empowered me in a way I'd never thought. My music became a healing process and a creative way of helping me channel and understand the grief cycle.

I realize now that you need to use your talents or hobbies to work through the grief process. Whether you enjoy gardening, reading, cooking or music you can find a way to sort out and manage the emotions. It helped me rise above the depression and find that place inside where you can say, "I have MS but it doesn't have me!"

My creative energy has been restored. I am going on my 4th year of having no flare-ups. I have transformed the struggle of MS into my first CD, "A Different Road", the realization of my lifelong dream. Before, I feared I'd never play again. Now, through my music, I can inspire others to keep their dreams.

Additional Information...
Comparing the Disease-Modifying Drugs

Depression and Multiple Sclerosis

MS Symptoms
James LaRocca Project
James LaRocca Project

Visit www.jameslaroccaproject.com for more information on James LaRocca and his first CD, "A Different Road"

51% of all proceeds from this CD
will be donated to the National MS Society.