Published on -4/7/2014, 8:58 AM
One day a long time ago, an unwelcome stranger came into my life. I didn't know its name for several weeks. It went by two initials -- MS, or multiple sclerosis. Yes, it set up destruction rapidly, in my brain and spinal cord. It left plaques of scar tissue in my brain and spinal cord, in multiple areas, hence the name multiple sclerosis.
This was not to be the only visit; it would continue through the rest of my life, periodically, and you are completely unaware of it occurring. It usually doesn't kill, but as my first neurologist said, "It will aggravate you to death."
Oftentimes, there is numbness or tingling in the arms and legs or trunk of the body. Bladder and bowel functions often are affected. Or more debilitating, it can cause blindness in one eye at a time or both, or double vision is common. Sometimes, the symptoms of the attack can be helped with treatments involving steroids. In addition, dragging of the leg or incoordination of the extremities occurs. Inability to walk often results with MS long-term. Women are affected four times as often as men. This is a disease of young adults, typically 20 to 40 years of age, but recently with better diagnostics, the range has been extended to 10 to 60 years of age. There is no prevention or cure.
Surprisingly, this is usually a cold-climate disease. It occurs along the 38th parallel line (runs through the middle of Kansas in a linear fashion) and around the world. However, it might have mutated since reports of it have been identified in warmer climates such as Hawaii. MS is prevalent in the United States, Europe and counties where the climate is colder. The disease typically affects intelligent people who have several college degrees. In the last 15 years, treatments have evolved but only in an attempt to reduce the frequency and severity of the attacks. It is a progressive disease with plaques accumulating and becoming more disabling.
Fifty-six people were cited recently in a Hays Daily article as having MS in Ellis County. Based on my personal experience and having been an attendee of the formerly held MS support group in Hays, I believe there are many more in the county. Some people wish to remain anonymous or were fortunate to have had only one attack.
We really appreciate the FHSU Leadership class for having the MS Walk last weekend and the businesses that already have contributed.