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EDITORIAL: MS Walk this Sunday

April 30, 2014   ·   0 Comments

This Sunday, I will once again participate in the Mandarin Walk for Multiple Sclerosis. I will be walking with my friend Kim Boyd, and her team ‘Kim’s Hope for a Cure’. Kim isn’t the only person I know that has been diagnosed with MS. My mother also lived with the illness for 20 years. MS is a cruel, and deceitful illness. It slowly takes your body, leaving your brain intact to witness the carnage. Let me tell you about MS from the perspective of someone who has watched two of the closest people in my life struggle with its devastating effects. When you are first diagnosed, you are subjected to many invasive medical tests. You will have to give blood, urine, go for MRI’s, see specialists – often many times, and at the expense of time spent at work, and with family and friends. Then, since every case is different, you have to see if they can even detect what’s wrong with you. In the meantime, you suffer with the symptoms – double vision, impaired motor-function, spastic limbs, extreme fatigue, “lazy legs”, and often depression. Once you have a diagnosis, you then have to see a neurologist (in Toronto) as often as he/she can accommodate you. You may lose your driver’s licence, you may have to quit your job, you may have to tell everyone that looks at you twice what’s wrong with you – as often you’ll “walk like you’re drunk”. Then, there is the social, emotional, sexual and physiological problems that follow, all while watching yourself decline, rapidly or bit-by-bit, whilst trapped inside a body that’s betrayed you. It is not known what causes MS, an auto-immune disease that forms scar tissue on the myelin sheath (or the Teflon coating on your nerve endings). Signals from your nervous system control station (your brain) are interrupted by these scars and messages are not delivered to the limbs properly. This can cause you to “spaz” for no reason. Am embarrassing and frustrating aspect of the illness for many MS patients. In my mother’s case, she went from being relatively healthy, to bedridden overnight. She stayed in bed for more than a month, before she was able to get up and use a walker to get around. She gradually improved, but still needed a cane for support. She would never be the same as this was just the beginning for my mom, who watched herself progress and remiss over and over again until she ended up on permanent disability, trapped in a wheelchair with a full-time homecare worker. When she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, she wouldn’t allow treatment to intervene with her death. She told me that if she had of had a quality of life to return to, which she didn’t due to the MS, she would have fought tooth-and-nail. In 5-weeks, she was gone. They say in Heaven no one is sick and everyone is young, so when I picture my mom now, I see her at her healthiest vitality – free of that stupid wheelchair and the MS that put her in it. Now, there is nothing I can do for my mom, but there is something I can do for other families struggling with similar issues. This Sunday, May 4th, plan to join the hundreds of walkers who walk because they can in the MS Society’s largest annual fundraiser. We meet at Banting Memorial High School in Alliston at 8 a.m., with the Walk starting at 10 a.m. Whether you have time to collect pledges or not, come out and see what’s happening to make a difference in the lives of the diagnosed, and their family members who can do nothing but watch them decline. Maybe next year you will consider joining us and the fight to End MS!

By Wendy Gabrek

MS Walk 2

         

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