Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple+SclerosisMultiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease where the insulating covers of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage causes disruptions in communication throughout the body. MS comes in a variety of forms and symptoms can occur at random intervals (relapsing) or be compounded over time (progressive). While symptoms may go away completely, lasting neurological problems tend to occur.
There is currently no cure for MS and treatments vary. Most treatments deal with improving function after attacks and preventing new attacks. These treatments, however, are modestly effective and can be tolerated badly by patients. This result in many of those affected seeking out alternative treatments.
It is estimated that between 2 and 2.5 million people in the world have a form of multiple sclerosis. Symptoms often develop between the ages of 20 and 50. Women are twice as susceptible to having MS as men. So how does this disease affect people and their families?
I first became aware of MS through the show The West Wing when it came out that fictional President Bartlett had a case of relapsing and remitting MS. His situation could become dire, whether he was collapsing in the Oval Office or rendered paralyzed during his visit to China. It was scary.
My second encounter with the disease was when my mother was diagnosed with it. They caught it somewhat early, I suppose, and she doesn’t even know whether she has a relapsing case or a progressive case. Either way she still displays symptoms.
Thus far her MS hasn’t affected us too much. Every now and again she will have an attack resulting in slurred speech. She already has trouble walking due to a back injury from work. I’m sure the MS doesn’t help so she has been relying on a cane for the last 10 years. That, my friends, is not something someone so young (my mom is now in her early 50’s) wants to have happen.
At the current moment, mommy dearest is suffering from an episode. Her voice is coarse. She speaks slowly. Her words blur together and thought process is more labored. We talk all the time and I can notice the difference now. She is usually quick-witted and fast talking. This week has been different. This is also the first time she admittedly said she was having an episode.
Thankfully things aren’t as bad as I imagined (see above about The West Wing). I keep in mind though, that she is still relatively young and the disease doesn’t tend to get better. For now it’s a minor inconvenience, let’s hope it stays that way.


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