Friday, March 6, 2009

Did You Know Someone Who Has MS?

MS...multiple sclerosis.

This disease affects about 400,000 people in the US and 2.5 million people worldwide. It's difficult to diagnose because the common symptoms look like so many other things. About 200 new cases are diagnosed in America every week but the MS website says physicians are not required to report new cases so the numbers could be much higher. I think they are.

I've known co-workers and friends of friends who have MS but it's hit much closer to home than that. Two members of my family have this disease, my mother and my brother closest in age to me.

Because my mother was diagnosed when I was very young, I have only the vaguest of memories of her without MS. I can recall seeing my mother progress from holding on to counters and furniture to keep her balance to using a cane to a walker and finally, to a wheelchair. She's been in a wheelchair for the last 30+ years, and as such, we grew up with a sensitivity for the physically challenged that most people don't have at an early age.

My brother, who is two years older than me, was diagnosed less than ten years ago. He now uses a cane too.

What I know about this disease from living with it up close and firsthand is that it is insidious. It looks different in each person it affects. Some deteriorate very rapidly; others very slowly and either steadily or in alternating bouts of progression and remission.

The good news is that you can live a very long time with it, as evidenced by my 87 yo mother. There are devices to aide and make life easier for people with MS today that I wished my mother would have had years ago.

This week, Mar 2 - 8, is MS Awareness Week. Click on this link for more information.

If you have an opportunity to support the annual Walk MS, Bike MS, Challenge MS or other fund-raising activities, please participate. The MS society does a lot to not only further research but to help those who are living with this disease.

Peace & Blessings,

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