Borough woman documents mother’s battle with MS

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Colleen Brown, right, has made a documentary film about her mom, Patricia, left,  who was diagnosed with MS 12 years ago. The pair is watching the video at their home in Naugatuck last week. The Naugatuck High School and Central Connecticut State University graduate filmed her mother and herself at pretty vulnerable moments over four months and put together the documentary. –RA ARCHIVE
Colleen Brown, right, has made a documentary film about her mom, Patricia, left, who was diagnosed with MS 12 years ago. The pair is watching the video at their home in Naugatuck last week. The Naugatuck High School and Central Connecticut State University graduate filmed her mother and herself at pretty vulnerable moments over four months and put together the documentary. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — Tears roll down Colleen Brown’s face as she describes seeing her mother in the hospital, hooked to intravenous and breathing tubes.

The 23-year old video production graduate has produced a documentary film focusing on her mother’s struggle with multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease of the central nervous system.

Her film, titled “Motivations,” documents how the progressively degenerative disease affects the life of her mother and the Brown family. Over several months, Brown filmed her mother at home, in the hospital and during a nine-day rehabilitation.

The film captures Patricia Brown as she struggles to walk with a cane, to get up from the floor and as she leans over the stove in the kitchen, her cane in the center of the room.

But Colleen Brown said she simply couldn’t record her mother at her very worst, in her hospital bed and hooked up to machines.

“I just stared at her. Looked at the ground,” Brown remembered through tears.

Instead, she weaves into the story details like the family celebrating in a hospital room, or making dinner at home without mom.
Brown made the film to raise awareness about the disease, and has formed a team — also called Motivations — that participated in the MS Walk in Cheshire on April 21. It’s the second time Brown participated in an MS walk, and the first time she had her own team.

In Cheshire 1,800 walkers participated last year, helping raise over $200,000. This year’s goal is $211,000. Funds raised support research and programs that benefit those affected.

More than 600,000 Connecticut residents battle the effects of the disease.

Patricia Brown has been battling MS for more than 12 years. The homemaker and mother of three said she has had to give up some things, like walking around the neighborhood with her girls or going out in the sun. She walks slowly. Her cane helps her keep her balance. When she stands up, she has to rest for a bit, to ensure her balance is OK, before she begins to walk.

It was difficult to watch “Motivations,” Patricia Brown said. But not because it shows her vulnerable as she struggles daily with the debilitating disease. In it she sees the effect her disease has on her family. It’s seeing Colleen’s tears over her that impacted her the most.

“To see Colleen that emotional. To see how hard it was (on them), it was hard,” Patricia Brown said.

A Roman Catholic, Patricia Brown said her faith gives her strength. Her family gives her great support.

She still keeps up with her housework, though she is prone to falls. She insists on doing her own grocery shopping. Her split-level Naugatuck home is meticulously kept. Family portraits, with her husband Jack and their girls, fill one wall. On the display table behind a couch in the living room are more family pictures, including photos of the girls’ college graduations. Wicker baskets hang from the ceiling of a half wall in the kitchen, and in a basket in the dining room are toys of Eli, the boxer Jack rescued from the pound in Waterbury last year. The dog has become the “baby” the entire family dotes on.

There are downs, like Jack being unemployed for nearly a year and Colleen’s efforts to find work in her field. There are medical bills associated with her disease, which stress her out, Patricia admits.

But Patricia Brown doesn’t dwell much on the negative. That’s why she is a motivation and inspiration to her girls, all three college graduates.

“There are so many people that are worse off than I am,” she says.

To view “Motivations,” visit vimeo.com/56875948.