Imagine this: You’re 26, in the prime of your life, launching a solo career as a pop singer, and then, out of nowhere, you get slammed by multiple sclerosis.
Your body is shutting down. Your immune system is attacking your central nervous system. You end up in a wheelchair. Walking, playing the guitar, simple acts, become impossible.
That’s what happened to David Osmond, nephew of Donny and Marie, son of Alan and Suzanne Osmond. But don’t feel sorry for him. “This may sound crazy, but MS is one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me,” he says. “I value my life so much more, having it.”
The first thing David noticed was a crushing feeling and a numbness in his toes. “Fast-forward a few months, that crushing feeling is moving all the way up my legs, and before too long it was up to my chest, it was in my hands, I had vertigo, and paralysis started to set in.”
But now, four years after his diagnosis, David is out of his wheelchair, moving across a stage with a powerful stride and a voice to match. “Every second counts in this world, and this one is mine,” he sings to a crowd of about 3,000 college kids, who may not realize just how much David’s lyrics come from his life.
How did David Osmond go from his darkest days to his brightest ones in the span of four years? He acknowledges that MS can be like riding a roller coaster, the disease progressing, then remitting. But he doesn’t discount the notion that his recovery seems like a miracle.
He gets emotional when he recalls sitting in a wheelchair at his parents’ house back in 2006: “I looked over at my brother, my younger brother, who had his child on the floor and he was wrestling.”
His voice cracks. “I didn’t think I’d ever have that. And I thought, why me?”
But David’s father, Alan, helped him realize he had to get over that attitude. Alan, one of the original Osmond Brothers, has had MS for 23 years and helped his son learn an important lesson about the disease: Alan told David, “Yes, I have MS, but it doesn’t have me.”
With his father as a role model, David got on with his life. He proposed to his girlfriend, Valerie, from his wheelchair.
“By some crazy reason, she said yes despite the fact that people around her, who cared about her, said, ‘Are you sure you want to marry a cripple?’ And she said, ‘Yes, in sickness and in health.’ And that support kept me going.”
Just before he married, David turned to a powerful medical steroid to relieve an acute attack of the disease. The steroid worked only for a short time, but — amazingly — David continues to improve without it.
In the classic roller-coaster way of multiple sclerosis, David got out of the wheelchair and walked on his wedding day. He now believes he’s in a form of remission, even though he knows the disease could flare up again and still feels pain in his legs and feet. “I have that constant crushing pain all the time, every second of every day, right now.”
David, who lives in Orem, Utah, says the power of a positive attitude helps him cope with the pain and adds that his life is much better because of a major lifestyle change: He has switched to an intensive program of all-natural nutrition and dietary supplements. But more than anything, David credits his wife, their baby, and his famous extended family for helping him find the strength to live with MS.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society presented Osmond with its 2010 Spirit of Life Award for inspiring others with MS to make the most of their lives. “You know, the cliches of life all start to make sense to me as I get a little bit older,” he says. “ ‘Life gives you lemons, make lemonade’: Yes! That’s true.”
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Once unable to pick up a guitar, much less stand on a stage and sing, David is performing again and pursuing his passion. “I have so much I want to say, so much to sing about: I feel like it’s just pouring out of me.”
David has written and recorded a CD, collaborating with well-known producer-songwriters Mike Krompass and Jim McCormick, and is now shopping the album to major labels. But the music doesn’t resemble such Osmond classics from the ’70s as “Puppy Love.” David’s CD, “Reflected,” is a serious collection of pop and rock songs with an emotional charge that sounds so real, it could only come from the pain and joy of his life.
“Nothing’s gonna get me down — I’ve got to find my place somehow,” he sings. And that seems to be exactly what he’s doing.
To learn more about David Osmond and his music, visit his website, davidosmond.com. And for more information about multiple sclerosis, visit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at nationalmssociety.org.
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints