MS Awareness Month
March is MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Awareness Month in Ohio. Appropriately so, since our state has a higher incidence of this cruel chronic illness than almost any other state. Why this is so, is one of the many mysteries of MS. Other mysteries include why it usually strikes people between the ages of 20 to 50 and why two to three times the number of women have it than men.
MS may be described briefly as a very unpredictable disease of the central nervous system which interrupts signals within the brain and between the brain and the body. No nerve in the body is safe from MS and the damage it does. While there is at present no cure for it, a number of drugs/treatments exist to address its symptoms, relieve them and/or slow the progress of its attacks. The earlier the symptoms are treated the better the results – the sooner MS is diagnosed the better for the patient. That's why awareness of MS and its many, varied symptoms is so important as we try to make them known with a special month of information.
Possible signs of MS, realizing that these may also indicate other ailments too, include: ongoing fatigue; optic nerve involvement with blurry vision maybe with pain or tenderness of the eyes, sometimes with blindness; weakness and/or pain in the legs, including clumsiness, legs may also feel heavy; numbness and/or tingling (pins-and-needles feeling lasting more than a few minutes); urination and incontinence problems; speech slurring or slowing requiring more concentration on each syllable. These are but a few. A computer search for "MS symptoms" will provide more comprehensive listings of signs and symptoms. I also recommend a visit to nationalmssociety.org, the website of the National MS Society, for valuable information on all facets of the disease.
I encourage additional reading on MS but no conclusions should be reached regarding any individual without consulting a neurologist. Even then the unpredictability of the disease will make its effects on anyone almost impossible to know. Some people have an attack and never have another one; some will be attacked and then go into remission for a while and others will have varying degrees of progress attacks with continuing damage. It's as if MS is specifically designed for each person that has it.
Our hope is that with the ongoing progress in fighting MS as new drugs and treatments are developed, a vaccine and/or cure to heal damaged nerves, MS will one day be defeated. My wife, Elaine, and I have been fighting it for 50 years. We haven't given up, nor should anyone else.
Mel Maurer lives in Westlake.