Depression in MS patients

July 7, 2010 by  

As if pain and impaired mobility are not enough, multiple sclerosis (MS) patients are also plagued by another comorbidity – depression. It is estimated that people with MS have up to 50% lifetime risk for developing depressive symptoms. However, very little is known about the causes and influencing factors of MS-related depression. In a way, this type of depression is quite puzzling. It can occur at any stage of the disease and is not related to the severity of the symptoms. Scientists think that depression in MS patients is not simply a normal reaction to the debilitating symptoms but has a neurological reason.

According to lead author Dr. Stefan Gold

“Depression is one of the most common symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis. It impacts cognitive function, quality of life, work performance and treatment compliance. Worst of all, it’s also one of the strongest predictors of suicide.”

Thus, researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) decided to investigate the cause(s) of MS-linked depression. Their hypothesis is that it is not a simply psychological problem but rather due to structural changes in the brain, i.e. “atrophy of a specific region of the hippocampus, a critical part of the brain involved in mood and memory, among other functions.”

The researchers used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the MS brain and found three key sub-regions of the hippocampus that were smaller in people with MS when compared to those without MS. This observed atrophy was also linked to the hyperactivity of three interacting glands of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This axis plays a role in the regulation of reactions to stress other physiological processes. In depressed MS patients, the HPA axis released excessive amounts of the stress hormone cortisol.  The researchers believe that this hyperactivity results in dysregulation and atrophy of the hippocampus that leads to the development of depressive symptoms.

The researchers found similarities between MS-linked depression and depression in people without MS but these should be further investigated in future studies.

According to co-author Dr. Nancy Sicotte

“Interestingly, this idea of a link between excessive activity of the HPA axis and reduced brain volume in the hippocampus hasn’t received a lot of attention, despite the fact that the most consistently reproduced findings in psychiatric patients with depression (but without MS) include hyperactivity of the HPA axis and smaller volumes of the hippocampus….So the next step is to compare MS patients with depression to psychiatric patients with depression to see how the disease progresses in each.”

The MS Cure Part III: vascular stenting and potential side effects

March 30, 2010 by  

This is our final leg in our journey through the CCSVI (chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency) topic, a fitting close to the National MS Education & Awareness Month.

This post will take a look at the procedure used to correct CCSVI as developed by Dr. Paolo Zamboni of Italy.

How the treatment works (source: Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada):

Researchers involved with CCSVI have used “balloons” to open up narrowed veins or inserted stents into veins to help keep them open. This requires passing a catheter (wire) through the veins to the area of venous narrowing so that it can be widened. This work has only been done in a few places, on a few people and has yet to be evaluated in a controlled clinical trial.

The potential complications:

Endovascular intervention for CCSVI is an invasive procedure and as such, does carry a risk for significant complication. Two cases have been described in the January Issue of the Annals of Neurology. In August of 2009, a 51 year old woman died from a cerebral hemorrhage attributed to the blood thinner she was taking to minimize the risk of clot formation post endovascular intervention for CCSVI. In November a second event was documented when a stent, inserted in the jugular vein to maintain vein flow, dislodged itself and travelled to the heart. Open heart surgery was needed to retrieve the stent. Other possible complications of this endovascular intervention may include, but are not limited to:

How has it worked so far?

Several patients had the treatment including Dr. Zamboni’s wife, with successful outcomes. Read some testimonials here. Stanford University researchers started a collaborative project to investigate the so-called multiple sclerosis vascular shunting procedure last year. However, they halted the treatments after 2 patients experienced serious adverse effects associated with the stenting procedure to treat CCSVI. One patient suffered from a brain hemorrhage and died and another required emergency open heart surgery after the stent got dislodged and landed in the heart’s right ventricle. The cases were reported in the journal Annals of Neurology and summarized at MS Society UK site. Although such adverse events are expected to happen in rare cases, 2 out of 35 patients amount to about 8.5%, which is unacceptably high.

This doesn’t mean that the treatment does not work. Current data available are still inconclusive. But the high rate of serious adverse effects needs to be looked into to protect MS patients. It is also disheartening to note that many unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of MS patients’ hopes. Many clinics in many countries are offering CCSVI screening and treatment even though the procedures haven’t been fully tested and standardized. For those who are waiting for the MS cure, prudence and patience, although understandably difficult, are recommended.

 Please let the researchers do their jobs and chakc things out…

Photo credit: stock.xchng

The MS Cure Part II: proponents and opponents of CCSVI

March 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Last week, I discussed about CCSVI, short for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, the new theory of Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni that many people say is the revolutionary MS cure we have been waiting for. But before we get caught up in the hype, let us see and hear what health experts have to say.

The hopefuls

Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, an associate professor of neurology at the State University of New York at Buffalo

“If this is proven correct, it will be a very, very big discovery because we’ll completely change the way we think about MS, and how we’ll treat it.”

According to Yves Savoie, MS Society of Canada

“As President and CEO of the MS Society, I am aware of the tremendous interest across Canada and around the world caused by the recent news coverage of the CCSVI study. Indeed I share your excitement and hope in the preliminary findings of this study. I also celebrate and respect the integrity of our research funding programs which will continue to ensure that the very best projects are selected and supported.”

Dr Robert Zivadinov, stuy leader of the CCSVI study at Buffalo University in New York:

“If we can prove the hypothesis that CCSVI is the underlying cause of MS, then it is going to change the face of how we understand the disease.”

MRI expert Dr. Mark Haacke co-organized a workshop on CCSVI in February. He is encouraging patients to send him neck and head images for research.

Patients need to speak up and say they want something like this investigated … to see if there’s credence to the theory.”

The skeptics

The major MS societies are of course skeptical

Initially, the MS Society of Canada was quoted as saying

“Many questions remain about how and when this phenomenon might play a role in nervous system damage seen in MS, and at the present time there is insufficient evidence to suggest that this phenomenon is the cause of MS.”

Dr Susan Kohlhaas of the UK MS Society stated

“Several medical advisers to the MS Society have read through the papers published by Dr Zamboni, and have heard him lecture on the subject. They are not convinced by the evidence that blockages to draining veins  from the brain are specific to people with MS, or that this explains the cause of MS at any stage of the condition.”

Dr. Doug Brown, biomedical researcher working with the MS Society UK stated in a TV interview:

“…an intriguing, interesting avenue of research…[but]…at the moment there is a current lack of evidence to back up the claims being made…a lot of more research is needed.”

Dr. Paul O’Connor, a neurologist at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital is openly critical.

“There is not a shred of real evidence anywhere that messing around with these veins does anything to help MS patients. If there is no treatment for this condition, there is no need to detect it.”

The next part of this series will tackle the treatment itself.

The MS Society of Canada is organizing a webcast on CCSVI on April 7. Speakers include Yves Savoie, President & CEO, MS Society, Dr. Jock Murray, Founding Director Dalhousie MS Clinic, and Karen Torrie-Racine, person with MS. Register now!

The MS Cure, Part I: Is MS an Autoimmune or a Vascular Disease

March 18, 2010 by  

There’s uproar about a supposedly effective treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS). Patients have their hopes up and are demanding for it whereas health experts are asking for prudence and patience while they examine the evidence and test the hypothesis behind the treatment. In this series, I will try to bring you the latest about this treatment.

How it all began

Brilliant ideas sometimes arise when tragedy strikes people where they hurt the most – their family. Paolo Zamboni, a professor of medicine at the University of Ferrara was confronted with the debilitating effects of MS right within the four walls of his home when his wife was diagnosed with MS in 1995. The vascular surgeon conducted an extensive literature research on MS. He found some possible answers in old medical literature. Thus, his “big idea” popular known as chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) was conceived although he prefers to call it the “liberation theory” because it liberated his wife from the debilitating symptoms of MS.

Autoimmune vs vascular disease

MS has always been thought to be an autoimmune disease, wherein the cells of the immune system attack the myelin sheath that protects and insulates the nerves.

Zamboni found some old medical articles which hypothesized MS to be caused by iron overload in the brain. In digging further, he found some similarities pathogenesis and physiology of MS and chronic vein disease (CVD). CVD causes weakness and lesions in the lower extremities (legs) because of the occlusion of the veins.

Zamboni then looked at ultrasound scans of the veins in the neck of MS patients and found some anomalies. 90% of the MS patients he examined had blocked or narrowed veins which drain the blood from the brain. Zamboni believes the blockage causes a reflux or backflow, observable in the scan, which can lead to accumulation of iron deposits. Iron damages the walls of the blood vessels and allows cells in the blood, including immune cells, to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and attack the myelin.

Thus, according to Zamboni, MS is not an autoimmune disease but a vascular disease.

The treatment

Zamboni’s idea is simple: clear the blockage and cure the disease. The procedure is very like angioplasty wherein a catheter is inserted in the blood vessel in the groin up to the neck where a balloon is then inflated to clear the blockage. As soon as the blockage is cleared, normal blood flow will be restored and the symptoms will go away. Zamboni performed the simple procedure on his wife and it worked. She has been symptom-free for about 3 years now.

Since then Zamboni has tested the procedure on several MS patients, with promising outcomes.

Is CCSVI the cure we have been waiting for? Next week, I’ll be bring you the opinions and insights of experts.

Updates on MS management

January 6, 2010 by  

A multidisciplinary approach to multiple sclerosis is necessary to preserve and even improve the overall quality of life of multiple sclerosis patients. This is the message of a recent review at Medscape.

Multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic heterogeneous disease with variable course, often imposes a substantial burden on the community, family, and individual, with notable negative effects on patient function and quality-of-life.

Multiple sclerosis causes pain, physical impairment and disability but the effects even go deeper  down to psychosocial and neuropsychological problems. Thus, traditional approaches that address only the physical impairment is not effective in improving the quality of life of the patients. Here are some ways to help improve the quality life of multiple sclerosis patients, ways which go beyond standard care:

Fatigue. Fatigue is part of the daily life of an MS patient. It may be caused by the disease itself but may also be due to sleeping problems. There pharmacological approaches to managing insomnia but there are also non-pharmacological approaches such as:

  • Regular exercise
  • Energy conservation strategies
  • Lifestyle modification

Depression. Many patients with MS suffer from depressive symptoms, which can also be linked to fatigue and insomnia. Pharmacologic  therapy using  anti-depressants is possible. Examples of nonpharmacologic approaches are cognitive-behavior therapy and group psychotherapy. However, physical therapy and exercise are also known to reduce depressive symptoms. A combination of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapy may also be beneficial.

Cognitive dysfunction. Loss of memory and disorientation are some of the cognitive effects of MS. There are no approved drugs for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction associated with MS. However, there are a lot of nonpharmacologic interventions including

  • cognitive rehabilitation
  • counseling
  • education
  • lifestyle changes
  • compensation strategies ,e.g. taking notes, making lists, and improved organization

Bladder and bowel dysfunction. Bladder problems, even incontinence are common about MS patients. So are diarrhea and constipation. Drugs are most commonly used to manage these symptoms but proper diet and a regular daily bowel output routine may also be helpful.

Pain. The pain that MS patients suffer from may or may be due to MS, or may be an effect of MS treatment. Pain is also linked to lack of sleep and fatigue. Medications to manage pain and spasms are usually prescribed.

Finally, MS patients need a strong support group or network, family and friends who will always be there for them.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

A gentle touch: therapy for MS patients

October 15, 2009 by  

hand_hang_onHealthy people take for granted simple everyday tasks such as lifting cup or dripping a fork and a knife. For those with neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS), these simple movements are a challenge. For these patients, lifting and manipulation these ordinary objects lead actually to tight gripping and excessive force, which in turn results in fatigue and even pain.

Physical therapists at the University of Chicago in Illinois report that a simple gentle touch can help MS patients regain control and coordination. The technique entails applying a gentle touch of a finger using the unaffected hand on the affected hand.

The study looked at eight adults with MS and compared them to eight without the disease. The participants were matched in terms of gender-matched and comparable in terms of age.

According to Alexander Aruin, professor of physical therapy.

“We studied how this light touch application changes the way people apply force to an object they want to grip. In each case, the grip force required to lift an object decreased.”

During the test, the participants were asked to grip and lift different objects in different ways and directions. In all the touch, the simple light finger touch helped the participants in the coordination.

The mechanism behind the effectiveness of the touch is poorly understood but the authors speculate that it might be due to “auxiliary sensory information from the contra-lateral arm”.

Aruin explains:

“When we use our second hand and touch the wrist of the target hand, available information to the central nervous system about the hand-object interaction may increase. Without the touch, the information needed to manipulate an object comes only through vision and sensory input from just the target arm and hand.”

These findings have relevant application on developing therapies for rehabilitation and training to counteract fatigue and weak muscles in people with neurological disorders, not only MS, but also Parkinson’s disease, or limb weakness due to stroke. This type of therapy has the potential to significantly improve the patients’ quality of life.

Breastfeeding may prevent MS relapse

July 16, 2009 by  

breastfeedingThere are about 2.5 million people worlwide suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). The disease commonly afflicts young people in their prime, between the ages of 20 and 40. It is no surprise that many MS victims are women of reproductive age – mothers and wanna be mothers.

However, there are certain restrictions to moms with MS. Most MS drugs cannot be taken during pregnancy and while breasfeeding. The drugs can get into the mother’s milk and taken in by the baby.

Breastfeeding is the best thing for babies. It is healthy, economical, and green. Moms with MS however, have to choose between restarting medications immediately after delivery or breastfeeding their babies.

A recent study indicates that breastfeeding may not be just good for babies but for moms with MS.

Tracking 32 women with MS and 29 without MS during the gestation period and up to one year postpartum, the study results suggests that breastfeeding actually prevents MS relapse even without the medications.

The actual figures are as follows:

  • 52% of moms with MS did breastfeed or stopped prematurely in order to restart taking their medications.
  • 36% of moms with MS who exclusive breastfed has a relapse within the follow up period.
  • In contrast, 87% of those who partially breastfed or did not breastfeed at all had an MS relapse during the same period.

According to Annette Langer-Gould of Kaiser Permanente Southern California

“While 87 percent of the women who did not breastfeed exclusively had a relapse in the year after giving birth, only 36 percent of the women who did breastfeed exclusively relapsed in that postpartum year.”

The study results indicate that breastfeeding lowers the incidence of MS relapse whereas restarting MS medications two months after delivers seems to actually increase rather than decrease the incidence of relapse.

Breastfeeding seems to provide protection in moms with MS but the mechanisms are not so clear. However, this is not surprising since other studies have reported health benefits for breastfeeding moms, from decreased risk for hormone-related cancers, to improved cardiovascular health.

Breastfeeding is the natural way to go, the way nature designed it to be. It is no wonder that both mom and baby benefit from it.

According to Dr Eleanor Bimla Schwarz of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Healthcare, PA

“During pregnancy, the body stores up a bunch of nutrients with the plan that it’s going to release much of this in the form of breast milk, a very calorific food. If this doesn’t happen, what we see is that the woman’s body pays the price. Breast-feeding really helps bring you back to your baseline, and it helps women recover from the stress test that pregnancy entails.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

March 1, 2009 by  

ma-awareness-weekMarch is National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month. This year’s (2009) theme is “MS: Now You See It, Now You Don’t“, basically referring to the MS symptoms that come and go.

To step up on awareness this month, several events have been organized by the MS advocacy groups. Check out for local events you can participate in!

From the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF):

Teleconferences (advance registration is required!)

  • “But You Don’t Look Sick: Talking With Your Kids About MS” with Dr. Paula Rauch, Wednesday, March 11 at 8 p.m. EST
  • “Keeping Connected: Real World Advice for Couples Coping with Chronic Illness” with Dr. Fred Foley, Wednesday, March 25 at 8 p.m. EST

For registration, please call (800) 225-6495, ext. 172.

MS Family Fun Days

Participate in a MS Family Fun Day in nine different locations all over the US.

  • March 14: Dave & Busters, Jacksonville, FL; Dave & Busters, Arcadia, CA; Dave & Busters, Kensington, MD; Dave & Busters, St. Louis, MO; Dave & Busters, Dallas, TX; Dave & Busters, Hollywood, FL
  • March 15: Dave & Busters, Irvine, CA
  • March 21: Dave & Busters, Chicago, IL
  • March 28: Jillian’s at Waterside – Norfolk, VA

To reserve, call Gloria at (888) 673-6287, ext. 126.

March 2 to 8 is MS Awareness Week of the National MS Society. Check out your local MS awareness events.

Walk MS

Six hundred walks. One destination. A world free of MS. Walk MS is a movement across the US with hundreds of thousands of people walking together to make a powerful statement, and to keep moving toward a cure, help raise funds to help people with MS. “Each step you take brings us closer to a world free of MS.

Bike MS

Phil Keoghan, host of CBS’s THE AMAZING RACE will embark on a 40 day, coast-to-coast bike ride across America, averaging 100 miles a day, covering over a total of 3,500 miles with pit stops in over 30 cities. The ride will start on March 28 in Los Angeles and end on May 9 in New York. Along the way, he’ll attend meet and greets with supporters at local GNC stores, visit CBS affiliates, attend open-casting calls for the next installment of THE AMAZING RACE, sign copies of his best-selling book No Opportunity Wasted, and ride alongside ex-racers and fans of THE AMAZING RACE. He will also be participating in rallies hosted by the National MS Society to build awareness for Bike MS and the MS movement.

THE AMAZING RACE 14 airs Sundays (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Multiple Sclerosis is NOT a Financial Death Sentence

April 14, 2008 by  

By Michelle Katz

Live a financial healthy life with Multiple Scherosis (MS). Here are some healthcare cost saving tips:

1. Shop around for your health insurance: One of the key factors to saving money when you have MS, as well as many other diseases, is being sure you have the best insurance for yourself. Remember, what might be the best insurance for you, may not be the best insurance for someone else. Know what you want out of your health insurance and don’t let anyone else, especially the health insurance company tell you what they think you need. This is not an overnight process, and it might take a few weeks to do a thorough job. Be patient, and treat it like you are looking for that perfect outfit for the perfect day or even a house. Keep in mind that every year you want to review your policy because your needs may change as well as what your policy offers. So do not put it off until the open enrollment season, or the day before you next doctor’s appointment. Be sure the health insurance policies you are considering have integrity by checking with your state insurance commissioner or other people that may have the policy in your state with MS. In addition, pay close attention to things that will have a severe impact on your treatment such as your neurologist, lab work, potential hospital charges and pharmaceuticals you may be taking later in the year. For example, when you have MS, it is extremely important to know that your neurologist is accepting your insurance and will be accepting your insurance for at least the next year until your policy expires and you can choose a new policy. Double check to be sure you can continue your treatments with the policy, and if there is a change in your treatment, the insurance plan has a “hassle free process.”

2. Look for free healthcare: Believe it or not, it is out there! Be sure to check with your State Department of Health or even Social Services of your state to see if you qualify for any new programs that your state has been granted money for. It may even be less expensive than using your health insurance in some cases. Don’t forget about federal programs like Medicare, local clinics, etc. Check back every few months. You would be surprised what Congress passes overnight and when it goes into effect and how it can effect you and your healthcare.

3. Get to know your neurologist: He or she can become your biggest aly when dealing with your insurance company if problems occur. Remember, your physician has bills to pay too, so it is in their best interest to help you get coverage. A good relationship can come in handy if you insurance suddenly does not cover a certain treatment. Ask for a discount or even samples of medication until you can get your finances together. Be sure to communicate with your physician and his/her staff about your situation. Help your physician help you! You never know what resources you physician or his/her staff may have access to.

4. Get free or low cost pharmaceuticals. Contact the manufacturer of your pharmaceuticals to see what programs you might qualify for such as Patient Assistance Programs. Some patient assistance programs include the following:

– MS Active Source for Avonex

– MS Pathways for Betaseron

– MS Lifelines for Rebif

– Shared Solutions for Copaxone

– The Access Program for Tysabri

– MS Lifelines Patient Assistance Program for Novantrone

5. Never go without healthcare coverage: Between programs like COBRA which offer temporary coverage for people in between jobs, State Assistance Programs, and companies that offer healthcare benefits to their employees, there is not excuse why someone with MS should go without healthcare coverage. Remember it takes time to apply to some of these programs, so do not wait until last minute to start inquiring because if there is a lapse in coverage, you may run the risk of paying higher premiums for health insurance in the future.

6. Look for those tax deductions: Some of these include medical insurance premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses and co-pays, transportation to and from the doctor, some nontraditional forms of medicine such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy, an ambulance for hire, an autoette or wheelchair, Capital Expenditures such as home modifications for the handicapped, Car Equipment (to accommodate wheelchair and/or handicapped controls), lodging(treatment related, and with restrictions, up to $50 per person), medical conference fees(relating to chronic illness; no lodging or meals), etc.

7. Take advantage of organizations such as the National MS Society: These organizations have many resources readily available and membership is generally free.Some organizations even offer grants for devices such as wheelchairs and emergency assistance.

These are just a few tips that I discuss in my lectures. Some more tips can be found in Healthcare for Less and 101 Health Insurance Tips, which can be found on or at major book stores across the United States. It takes time, persistence and a little bit of detective work to uncover some of the best bargains!

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Multiple Sclerosis – How You Can Help

April 4, 2008 by  

By Lance Winslow

MS or Multiple Sclerosis is something that affects one in every 1,000 people in America. It is quite serious and the body’s own immune system is the culprit, as it attacks the body’s central nervous system, with often horrible consequences. One thing you can do is to spread awareness, volunteer to help or donate money to groups such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Multiple Sclerosis Foundation or the MSAA Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. Every bit helps, money helps too, in order to continue the much needed research to find a solution.

Luckily, there has been some recent notable progress and perhaps within the decade MS, will no longer be a problem, still your assistance is needed. As an online writer, I believe that I can help by spreading awareness and if you are a writer, perhaps you too might learn more so you can help get the word out, so folks understand the serious nature of MS. If you will take a stand, write some articles, talk to friends or help to raise money, maybe MS can be stopped for good.

The National Multiple Sclerosis society for instance advocates scientific research and helps with funding, while simultaneous, educating those with MS and the public. They urge citizens to take charge and create activism in communities and cities. Without such support, the much needed funding will fall short of its goals. March is National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, so now would be a good time to do a lot of good for those afflicted with MS, so they can lead normal and healthy lives in the future. Please do your part.

“Lance Winslow” – Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; Lance Winslow’s Bio

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Multiple Sclerosis – An Unpredictable Disease

March 19, 2008 by  

By Sharon A Bell

In some people, it is a mild illness. In others, it can lead to permanent disability. This is the nature of multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable disease that affects 300,000 people in the United States alone.

Myelin is a fatlike substance that covers the nerve fiber found in the brain and spinal cord. It is an essential part of the nervous system since it enables the nerves to carry electrical impulses to and from the brain where they can be acted upon by the appropriate part of the body.

In multiple sclerosis (MS), myelin is damaged for unknown reasons. As a result, normal nerve impulse transmission is impaired and the person experiences a variety of symptoms depending on which part of the brain and spinal cord is affected.

“An electrical short circuit develops, and normal electrical impulses cannot be carried by the nerves. The type of symptoms that result depends on where in the brain and spinal cord this process takes place, but usually, multiple sites are involved. Myelin has some ability to repair itself, but with repeated attacks of inflammation, scarring (sclerosis) takes place and permanent loss of function may result,” according to Dr. Timothy A. Pedley in “The Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Complete-Home Medical Guide.”

MS is believed to be an autoimmune disorder wherein the body develops antibodies to attack myelin. Some say a virus is behind this disorder. The victims fall between the ages of 20 and 40, and are usually women. Symptoms may appear slowly or rapidly and the disease may disappear from time to time.

In the early stages, MS may be marked by blurred or double vision, difficulty walking, weakness, numbness or a tingling sensation. Later, the patient may suffer from tremors, loss of bladder or bowel control, difficulty speaking, and impotence.

“It is not possible to provide a typical picture of multiple sclerosis. Some of the common symptoms, however, include loss of vision in one eye, double vision, loss of coordination and trembling of a hand, instability in walking, spasticity, loss of bladder control, and peculiar spontaneous sensations such as pins-and-needles feeling over part of the body, called paresthesias. At first the patient may have only intermittent symptoms. Since the physical examination at this stage may be completely normal, the patient’s complaints may be dismissed initially as ‘pyschosomatic’ or ‘hysterical,'” Pedley explained.

While some patients may recover dramatically, MS is an incurable disease and the survival rate of sufferers can fall anywhere from a few weeks to 50 years. For relief of symptoms, the doctor may prescribe cortisone drugs together with physical therapy to retain muscle function.

“Adequate rest and sleep are important. Complications such as bed sores, contractures, spasms, and bladder and kidney infections can usually be prevented with physiotherapy and good nursing care. Excessive heat should be avoided. Psychotherapy may help in rehabilitation. Very strenuous and fatiguing exercise is not beneficial and may be harmful,” said Kurt Butler and Dr. Lynn Rayner of the University Of Hawaii in “The Best Medicine.”

To strengthen your body, take Immunitril – your first line of defense in maintaining a healthy immune system. For details, visit

Sharon Bell is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premier online news magazine

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Transfers Made Easy With Leg Lifters

February 25, 2008 by  

By Michael Russell

Before you had Multiple Sclerosis, getting into and out of the bed or a chair was a piece of cake, but that was before you had Multiple Sclerosis. Now some days you can barely lift even one of your legs without some help and you never know when you’re going to have one of those days. Life is rarely ever that convenient. You can, however, plan ahead instead of letting those days catch you by surprise. You can take control and be prepared for those occasional set backs that will eventually come.

Become familiar with and take advantage of handy and easy to use products like Leg Lifters and other similar lifter straps and other aids that make life easier for those living with Multiple Sclerosis. Keep them nearby and accessible as your back up plan for those lazy or weak leg days. Most of the leg lifters on the market today are lightweight, are from 32 to 42 inches in length and are made of some type of durable heavy-duty woven fabric. They feature two loops, one for your wrist and the other for your foot. Most also have a bendable metal rod that keeps the strap or lifter rigid but also allowing you to shape it for your own individual needs. Some companies also carry additional models for pediatrics or shorter individuals.

These wonder aids that give many increased freedom of mobility, often times are designed by the disabled and can assist you in moving your legs around in the bed while lying down or sitting down. They can help you reposition your legs in chairs, wheelchairs and scooters and are invaluable in transferring from chair to wheelchair to scooter or bed and back again.

The prices of these little miracle workers range from $10.95 to $16.99. Be sure to do your own comparative shopping for the lifter aid that might work best for you. Below is a list of companies that carry a leg lifter or some sort of lifter strap. This list isn’t exhaustive though. There are many more companies out there that also carry some type of leg lifter. This will at least get you started. Make sure you carefully check out the shipping policies, discounts and sales any company might have. Sometimes any one of these factors could drive up the price of your purchase.

If you’re not one who likes to try new things, consider looking for a lending closet nearby. Most lending closets carry living aids that makes moving around easier. Sometimes as a courtesy, they will even send someone out to show you how to use the items. If that fails give MSAA (Multiple Sclerosis Association of America) a call at 1-800-532-7667. Ask them about the availability of a leg lifter and a list of other available items. Be sure to ask to talk to someone who could encourage you to try new things to make your life easier. Here’s a toast to your freedom. carries the Leg Lifter for $11.95, order no. SKU: M159-2 carries two leg lifters: Rigid Leg Lifter (41 inches long) for $15.44, order no. AA8621 and Soft Flexible Leg Lifter (34 inches long) for $14.72, order no. AA8619 carries the Leg Lifter (Navy Poly 42 inches long) for $12.82,order: Regular size #60 carries the same Leg Lifter (Navy Poly 42 inches long) for $13.25,order: Code: CM-10611. Check out the differences in shipping, discounts, etc. carries the Leg Lifter (42 ½ inches long) for $10.95, order: Product# D29500 offers a Duro-Med Brand Leg Lifter Strap (32 inches long) for $13.99, order: Item model number: 640-8222-0000 carries the Leg Lifter (available online only-not in stores) for $16.99, Catalog # 10136461 carries the Leg Lifter (39.75 inches long) for $10.99, order no. DL2450.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Multiple Sclerosis

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Understanding Multiple Sclerosis – Typical Symptoms And Signs

February 23, 2008 by  

By Steve Dempster

No-one likes to think they may ever develop a disease as serious in its implications as Multiple Sclerosis (MS). However, to be forewarned is indeed to be forearmed and early diagnosis can make a great difference to a patient’s progress. This article looks at some of the main early onset symptoms of the disease.

Due to the constraints placed on space within this article, only a brief overview of symptoms is possible. If you suspect you may be affected by any of the following symptoms of MS, consult your physician.

Visual symptoms include

* Optic Neuritis: This causes loss of colour vision, eye pain, blurred vision and (ultimately) blindness.

* Afferent Pupillary Defect: This gives rise to abnormal response of the pupil of the eye.

* Movement and sounds phosphenes: These can cause ‘flashing lights’ to be seen when moving the eyes or in response to a sudden noise.

* Nystagmus: this causes the eyes to move jerkily instead of smoothly.

* Diplopia: The medical term for ‘double vision’.

* Ocular Dysmetria: this causes constant under- or over-shooting of eye movements

Motor symptoms include

* Paresis; Monoparesis; Paraparesis; Hemiparesis and Quadraperesis: all names for muscle weakness, up to and including partial or mild paralysis.

* Spasticity: this causes stiffness, pain and restriction of free movement of limbs due to loss of muscle tone.

* Muscle atrophy: the wasting away of muscle tissue due to lack of use.

* Restless leg syndrome: these are involuntary leg movements, particularly bothersome at night.

* Hypotonia; Clonus: posture problems.

* Footdrop: this is when the foot drags along the floor when walking.

* Dysarthia: speech problems including slurring of speech.

Co-ordination and balance symptoms

* Dystonia: Slow feedback of limb position.

* Intention tremor: Shaking when fine movements are attempted.

* Ataxia: General loss of co-ordination.

* Speech ataxia: stuttering and general problems with speech co-ordination.

* Vestibular ataxia: abnormal functioning of the inner ear – can cause vertigo.

These are just some of the main symptoms of MS. There are many more in other areas but to list them all is well beyond the scope of this article. It is important, however, to realise that ignoring any of the above symptoms – particularly if they are tending to grow more severe or frequent – can lead to greater problems as the disease advances.

Although no cure is known for MS, there are many treatments available that do help control the condition to a greater or lesser extent and life expectancy – though perhaps not life quality – is roughly the same for those affected by Multiple Sclerosis as those who are not.

Again, if any of the above symptoms seem relevant to you, it is important to consult your doctor or physician. The symptoms you are having may be totally unrelated to Multiple Sclerosis but the old adage – better sure than sorry – certainly applies here.

If you’d like more information about aids to mobility or have mobility issues, pay us a visit at Electric Mobility World

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Multiple Sclerosis – An Overview Of This Debilitating Condition

February 21, 2008 by  

By Steve Dempster

You may have heard about the disease normally known as Multiple Sclerosis – but what is it and what causes it?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the central nervous system. First described by Jean-Martin Charcot in 1868, MS (formerly known as disseminated sclerosis) is more common in women than in men and typically affects – depending on country and actual population – between 2 and 150 people per 100,000. The disease usually has its onset in early adulthood.

The disease affects the ‘white matter’ of the brain. Cells in white matter – present in the brain and spinal cord – carry signals for processing to ‘grey matter’ areas and also between these areas and the rest of the body. MS affects the neurons in the white matter – specifically destroying the cells known as ‘oligodendrocytes’ that are cells responsible for creating the ‘myelin sheath’ – a fatty layer that assists the neurons in the carrying of electrical signals.

The effect of the disease thins or destroys the myelin, though it can also cut the neuron’s extensions or ‘axons’. With loss of the myelin, the neurons cannot continue to effectively transmit their electrical signals, giving rise to the symptoms of the disease. The name ‘Multiple Sclerosis’ actually refers to plaques or lesions in the white matter – also called scleroses (scars). The loss of myelin in scarred regions cause some of the symptoms of the disease, which vary widely depending on just which signals are interrupted or lost.

MS appears in several forms, including progressive (accumulative) and relapsing (discrete) forms. Symptoms may disappear completely between attacks but permanent neurological issues tend to persist, particularly as the disease advances.

The cause of MS is unknown, despite much being known about the actual way the disease works upon the human body. The general opinion is that it is caused by attacks by the immune system upon the body’s own nervous system. Other theories claim that it is metabolically dependent whilst still others cite a virus as the cause. Still others claim that, as MS is almost unknown in tropical regions it may be caused by a lack of vitamin D in childhood.

Sadly, there is no cure -yet! – for Multiple Sclerosis and treatments tend to focus on returning function and mobility after an attack, the prevention of further attacks and the avoidance of disability. Many patients pursue ‘alternative medicine’ remedies, despite there being little evidence of effectiveness.

The expected course of the disease (prognosis) depends on exactly which type of the disease is present, initial symptoms, individual characteristics and degrees of disability experienced or likely to be tolerated by the sufferer. The life expectancy of people with MS is, however, virtually identical with healthy, unaffected people and in many cases a near-normal life is possible.

If for any reason you suspect that you may be affected by Multiple Sclerosis, a visit to your doctor or specialist is of paramount importance – if indeed you do have this illness, early diagnosis is immensely important to your future well-being.

If you’d like more information about aids to mobility or have mobility issues, pay us a visit at Electric Mobility World

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All About Multiple Sclerosis

December 27, 2007 by  

By Robert Groth

Introduction to Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is known to affect more than 250,000 people world wide and 400,000+ people in the United States of America alone! This disease affects more women than men, and most people show the first signs of this degenerative disease between 20 to 40 years of ages.

A chronic and potentially incapacitating disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects the central nervous system or the brain and spinal cord areas in your body. Believed to be an autoimmune disorder, MS is a condition where the patient’s immune system produces antibodies against their own body.

These antibodies and WBCs (White blood corpuscles) are then directed against proteins in the “myelin” sheath. The myelin sheath is made up of fatty substance that protects the nerve fibers in the spinal cord and brain. This attack usually results in injury and swelling to the myelin sheath and ultimately to the surrounding nerves. The injury leads to scarring or sclerosis in multiple areas of the central immune system, thus damaging the nerve signals and control muscle coordination as well as vision, and strength.

The nature of it is unpredictable and it can vary in severity from person to person. While some people experience only mild illness, it can lead to permanent disability in many others. Treatments for MS can help in modifying the course of this illness while relieving symptoms as well.

Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

The signs and symptoms are wide and varied. More often than not, they depend on the area where nerve fibers have been affected. Some of the common symptoms of it include:

– Feeling of weakness or numbness in one or both limbs. The feeling usually starts on one side of the body or begins in the bottom half of the body.
– Full or partial loss of vision, typically starts with one eye at a time accompanied by some pain when making eye movement
– Blurring of vision or experiencing double vision
– A tingling or painful sensation in some parts of the body
– Experience of tremor, inability to walk straight, or lack of proper coordination
– Dizziness
– Fatigue
– Muscle stiffness or spastic movement
– Slurred Speech
– Full or Partial paralysis
– Issues with bowel, bladder or sexual functions
– Forgetfulness/memory loss
– Lack of concentration

There are 3 forms of multiple sclerosis:

* Relapsing-remitting MS: Almost 80% people are affected by this type of MS. There are visible relapses with some amount of recovery in between.

* Secondary progressive MS: Technically secondary progressive MS is a form of progressive MS, but chances of relapse are mainly in early-to-mid stages. There is slow and regular loss of cognitive and physical functions. 50% of those who suffer from relapsing remitting MS develop this type of within 10 years of diagnosis.

* Primary progressive MS: There are no relapses in this type of multiple sclerosis. However, there is loss of cognitive and physical functions over a period of time. About 10% people are affected by this type of it.

© CG Groth Inc 2007

Robert Groth, author and speaker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1990. Receive more information and a free inspirational daily email on how you can beat multiple sclerosis at

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What is Multiple Sclerosis?

December 20, 2007 by  

By Robert Groth

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects your central nervous system. It is believed to be an autoimmune disease, a condition in which your immune system attacks parts of your body as if they’re foreign. These attacks may be linked to environmental factors such as viruses.

In multiple sclerosis, the body mistakenly attacks the myelin sheath, a fatty substance that insulates nerve cells, or neurons, in your brain or spinal cord. This myelin sheath helps the neurons to carry electrical signals carrying information between parts of the body. These electrical signals are also how the brain controls the rest of the body. The interference with the signals results in a variety of symptoms.

As these causes attacks on the myelin sheath, inflammation and injury occur. This results in scarring (sclerosis) of the myelin sheath, further complicating the disease. These scars can be seen through brain imaging such as an MRI. It is hard to diagnose in the early stages. It is most often diagnosed to young people between the ages of twenty and forty. Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed as men.

Multiple sclerosis is very unpredictable, and affects everyone differently. In some people it is a mild illness, and can be controlled through diet and environmental factors. For others, it can lead to permanent disabilities. Some people respond well to treatments, which may relieve symptoms and lead to a type of remission. Others may not be affected by treatment at all, while a few may suffer negative results from medication.

While much is known about how it causes damage, not much is known about the cause of the disease. While several risk factors have been identified, researchers still do not know how much they really contribute to the disease. There is no known cure for this.

© CG Groth Inc 2007

Robert Groth, author and speaker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1990. Receive more information and a free inspirational daily email on how you can beat multiple sclerosis at

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6 Risk Factors for Multiple Sclerosis

October 25, 2007 by  

By Robert Groth

There are several recognized risk factors in Multiple Sclerosis, although there is not a definite known cause. These risk factors do not guarantee that you will be diagnosed with the disease, but they do increase your chances.

Heredity is the first of the known risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis. If no one has Multiple Sclerosis in your family, then your chances of having MS are only 1 in 750. Having a parent or sibling with MS increases the odds to 1 in 100. If you have an identical twin with MS, your chances are 1 in 4, although both twins do not always have MS. For this reason, many researchers believe that Multiple Sclerosis is not just a genetic disease, although heredity does affect the chances you will have it.

Environmental factors are the second risk factor for Multiple Sclerosis. Research shows that bacteria and viruses, especially at certain ages, can increase your chances of having MS. Alone these infections should not cause MS, but when combined with other risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis, especially heredity, they can greatly increase the odds of having it. The infections that could be related to MS are measles, herpes, chickenpox, rubella, mononucleosis, chlamydia, and some types of flu. These may have the most risk when they are contracted as a teenager.

Geography is the third risk factor in Multiple Sclerosis. For some unknown reason, MS is more common in temperate climates such as Europe, southern Canada, northern United States, and southeastern Australia. This geographical factor seems to be most important during puberty.

Gender is the fourth risk factor for Multiple Sclerosis. Women are 2 to 3 times more likely than men to have MS. This is believed to be due to hormonal differences. Men who smoke are twice as likely as men who do not smoke to be diagnosed with MS.

Age is the fifth risk factor for Multiple Sclerosis. Usually MS is diagnosed to people between 20 and 50. It is possible to be diagnosed during childhood or after the age of 50, but this age range seems to be the most critical.

The sixth risk factor in Multiple Sclerosis is giving cow’s milk to babies. This is a newly discovered risk, and the reasons are not yet known. It may be proven in the future to be in no way linked to MS. Pediatrician’s advise against cow milk for infants under one year of age, anyway, so it would be best to be careful. Breast milk is believed to be the best food for infants because it helps the brain develop faster and more fully. This may be the link between cow’s milk and MS, since the brain would not be as developed.

Heredity is probably the only risk factor for Multiple Sclerosis that may cause the disease on its own, but combining several of these factors together may greatly increase your odds. Since many of these things are beyond your control, if you meet several of these risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis, you may want to consult a doctor. At the least watch for any symptoms related to the disease. Anything you can due to reduce your chances or your loved one’s chances of meeting these risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis would be worth the effort.

© CG Groth 2007

Robert Groth, author and speaker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1990. Receive more information and a free inspirational daily email on how you can beat multiple sclerosis at

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Tips for a Multiple Sclerosis Diet

October 22, 2007 by  

By Christine Groth

A good Multiple Sclerosis diet is believed to help control and possibly eliminate many of the symptoms that come along with the disease. This can help slow the progression of the disease. While you should check with a doctor for specific suggestions or guidelines, there are some basic tips to a good MS diet.

A key factor in a healthy multiple sclerosis diet is to eliminate all gluten. In general, you should avoid eating anything with flour, but you can check package ingredients if you are unsure of their content. Many diets besides the MS diet do not allow gluten, so this is now easily found on many packages. Avoiding wheats, barley, oats, or rye is another way to cut gluten.

For a successful diet you should also limit or avoid animal fats, including dairy products and margarine. Olive oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil are suitable alternatives for cooking or salads. For good digestion, you should try to avoid fried foods in general.

Avoid highly saturated fats in your diet. White meat skinless chicken, seafood, and fish are the best meat choices. Make sure to always completely remove any fat. Try to replace the saturated fats you cut out with unsaturated fats.

Anyone, but especially those on a Multiple Sclerosis diet, should try to completely eliminate refined sugar. There are many healthier alternatives. Honey, fructose, or natural unsweetened fruit or vegetable juices would be ideal for a person on this diet.

Obviously, any foods you are allergic to should be cut from your diet. If you are unsure of allergies, try consulting a doctor or allergy specialist. You may also try eliminating all of the most common problem foods from your diet, and after two weeks bring them back one at a time. If you have a bad reaction to any food, then you should probably eliminate it from your multiple sclerosis diet.

You should increase the amount of fresh vegetables and fruits in your MS diet. Try to always eat freshly cooked food when you must cook it. This will increase the amount of vitamins and minerals your body absorbs. This will help to make up for some of the nutrients you lose by cutting certain things from your diet. Vitamin supplements may also be beneficial or even necessary for your Multiple Sclerosis, but you should consult a doctor to make sure you take the right vitamins.

Always drink lots of water. It is very easy for a person with Multiple Sclerosis to become dehydrated, so make sure to drink at least 8 large glasses of water every day. As strange as it sounds, this may help to improve the incontinence that many people with MS suffer from.

These tips for improving your Multiple Sclerosis diet are intended to help you control many common problems such as fatigue, incontinence, and constipation. Adjusting your diet may also help to avoid making other problems worse. Many of these tips are included in other diets, and even people without special dietary needs may benefit from following these suggestions.

(C) CG Groth Inc 2007

The “Daycare Diva”, Christine G. Groth, is the creator of “The Guide to Instant Daycare Profits”. To learn more about this step-by-step program and to sign-up for her FREE “How to Start a Daycare” tips and articles, visit

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I Have Multiple Sclerosis, But It Does Not Define Me

October 10, 2007 by  

By Robert Groth

The year was 1989. I was then 17, about to graduate from high school in a few months. During those last few weeks leading up to graduation, I felt like I practically held the world in my hands. I was invincible! After all, I didn’t have any problems being accepted in a special program for arts and music at St. Olaf College, as I have been playing the oboe with great success from sixth grade all through high school. It seemed to be my destiny – and at that time, my future looked so bright.

That year, I spent one of the most fantastic holidays ever with my parents, my two sisters, and my three-month-old baby brother. Shortly after Christmas, however, I realized how vulnerable and mortal I was, after all.

One morning, I woke up and could not see from my right eye. Thinking it was only because of all those late nights, I rubbed it gently at first, and then a bit more frantically – to no avail. A part of my brain dismissed it as just one of the side effects of a stressful college life, while another part was flashing the words, “brain tumor” in neon red. This fear was partly due to the recent death of one of my dad’s employees. She had brain tumor, and one of the first symptoms she had of the disease was loss of sight.

After several futile attempts of clearing my sight by turning the light on and off and alternately rubbing and opening my eyes, my father decided then and there to rush me to the optometrist. The doctor confirmed that I had indeed lost most of my eyesight in that eye and I was sent home that day with a prescription of cortisone.

The weeks that followed found me see-sawing between hope and despair. Surely this wasn’t anything permanent, I thought. I was as healthy as a horse before this happened, and never abused my body in any way. However, I couldn’t relieve the pain by pressing the eye or rubbing it, because it was originating from behind the eye. It was as if hundreds of little monkeys were stabbing the rear of my eyeball repeatedly. My doctor then told me that what I had was called “optic neuritis.”

When I didn’t get any better, I requested for an appointment at a prestigious eye clinic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Here, I had to undergo a battery of tests. A couple of them were the eye pressure test, conducted using a device called a tonometer, and the Visually Evoked Response Test or VER, during which EEG sensors were attached to my scalp. I had to give an extremely detailed family history, in addition to having my eyes dilated, pinned open and then having flash photos of them taken for comparison.

It was an exhausting process but I had to take it all in stride. After all, I couldn’t imagine life with deteriorating vision! I was only in college, for pete’s sake. These things happened to old people who have already lived their life to the fullest.

During one consultation, I was told that the left eye was in worse condition than the right. This revelation seemed difficult to accept, as I could see well with the left eye. I tried explaining this to them, but they were certain of their diagnosis. I no longer thought it was necessary to argue. It was my body, and I knew what I felt. Even professionals make mistakes. I prayed so fervently that all of this was just one big mistake.

At that point, I needed to transfer to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as it was closer to both my home and the doctor. Funny how long-term plans suddenly change in the wake of such events. I continued to drive to and from school with a patch over one eye. There were times I really shouldn’t have driven – but what choice did I really have?

Due to the many questions I couldn’t find answers for, such as “What the heck is wrong with me?” and “Will this ever go away?” I felt like I was swimming in a raging river without a lifeline, even as my relatives and friends remained steadfast. Looking back now, I realize that it was only by God’s grace that I didn’t kill myself or anyone else on the road.

After months of getting vague answers from doctors, I was finally sent to the neurologist at the Wisconsin Medical Clinic. Again, I got to recount my family history, which by now was so rote I could recite it in my sleep. Later on, I was told to undergo an MRI – a truly enriching experience, if there ever was one.

No one really prepares you enough for your first MRI experience. Aside from having your head pinned and your limbs strapped to the imager bed that’s slid into a coffin-like chamber, you’ll also get to endure eardrum-shattering sounds (even with earplugs) for almost an hour.

Afterwards, blood samples were taken from me and I was allowed to go home. The weeks leading to my next appointment seemed like an eternity. The dreaded appointment finally came in February, during which the doctor morosely read the report: You have multiple sclerosis.

My initial reaction wasn’t shock or fear. I was relieved, in fact. Relieved that this thing had a name. Relieved that it wasn’t a brain tumor. Keep in mind, this was the early ’90s, a time when MS was not aggressively treated with medicines’. My doctor said I would need to come back in case of future episodes of blindness or blurred vision, but otherwise, I didn’t have to return. Whatever it involved, I only heard the words, “there is a possibility that your sight will return to normal and you will not need to come back.” Grabbing some brochures from the MS Society, I went home that day full of hope.

The doctor’s prediction came true later when I was finally told that my sight had reverted back to 20/20. Again, I felt the shroud of invincibility enveloping me. And because I felt strong and impregnable, I wouldn’t again ask for help for the next eleven years, despite recurring episodes of tingling in my hands and feet. Compared to the loss of sight, these “tinglings” were minor inconveniences. There were other signs of MS, but all of them were ignored as well. My neurologist told me once that I may never have to see him again, and that was exactly my intention.

I graduated in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, and started working as an accountant in my father’s CPA firm. Two years later, I married Christine whom I met at UW-Milwaukee. Despite her mother’s dire warnings that she might not be able to handle this “invisible” disease I was diagnosed with, we made that decision to seal our love for each other and nothing – not even the sporadic MS symptoms – could stop us from starting our life together.

On my 24th birthday, I received the most amazing gift of all – Christine gave birth to our wonderful twin daughters. They were healthy and full of life, and I knew at that moment that God still had so many plans for me. My wife and my lovely babies were there for me to take care of, and I had to work doubly hard to provide for our little family.

While I worked, Christine stayed home with the girls. As tax season came around, I found myself working longer hours, seven days a week. It was a stressful time and the lack of sleep began to take a toll on my body over the years. The MS symptoms, although minor, started to become more frequent. I found myself having difficulties walking and my speech started to slur.

No matter how often the symptoms manifested themselves, I always brushed them off as the results of work fatigue and not of MS. Little did I realize that I was still in full denial of my condition. Finally, my wife put her foot down and insisted that I go see a specialist – a line that I have heard so many times in my life. This time, I was going to see not a neurologist, but an internist who specialized in infectious diseases and multiple sclerosis.

The new doctor was very thorough, and I again had to undergo another battery of tests. I was given every blood test known to man and was subjected to another MRI. It did help that he laid out the cards on the table, and for the first time, I confronted this disease – which I had been in denial over for the past 11 years – with unconditional acceptance. He also let me in on a secret that I must have refused to hear in the past – that this disease was going to continue marching on, and if I fail to seek treatment, I could wind up in a wheelchair before I even reach the age of 30.

This “in-your-face” threat kicked me into action. I began treating my MS with medications that I had access to. I started with daily shots of Copaxone, a drug that I was able to self-administer. It was a good thing that needles don’t bother me, as my body today is a veritable pin cushion.

My good doctor also introduced me to the MS Society and the articles they wrote about MS. I developed a new interest in my condition and started reading about it. Some of the literature dealt with Copaxone trials in Israel, where the drug was apparently first tested. In those tests, Copaxone didn’t seem to be causing anyone any harm over the 15 years of experimentation, and I found my condition improving – whether it was from the drug or due to the natural course of the disease, I’ll never know for sure. No one will really know, and that’s the scary thing.

At the time my daughters were in kindergarten, they had a classmate whose father was a chiropractor. His wife and my wife Christine eventually became friends, and she mentioned once that I was always complaining about headaches. The woman replied that she met her husband when she went to see him to fix her headaches, and that was all my wife needed to hear for her to send me off to the next doctor.

Since 1990, I had been abusing Excedrin® as it was my instant solution for the pain in my eye. Each time I felt that stabbing pain drilling into my eyeball, I would reach for the drug and take six to eight tablets daily. Addiction sneaks up on you over the years, one bottle at a time. I knew I had a problem, but it was the only way I knew to get rid of the pain. Anyway, I thought to myself, this stuff was sold over the counter, so how bad could it be?

The chiropractor I saw for my headaches looked into a lot of other factors aside from my biological makeup. He tried to straighten my posture – which at that time was terrible – and said that this would help solve my headaches. This was largely due to my reduced vision which forced me to hunch over a desk while doing paperwork. After giving it a half-hearted effort, I started noticing some improvement.

Apart from looking into the possible causes of my headaches, he also started teaching me about nutrition. In the course of our consultations, I realized how deplorable my diet was. Consequently, he gave me books to read which shook to the core my beliefs about medicine and the medical community. All the while I had been keeping doctors and the drugs they prescribed in the highest regard. Before this time, to me, they were the end-all and be-all of whatever afflictions plagued me, and mankind, in general.

While a lot of the books were partial to non-traditional treatment, they made me, for the first time, take a renewed interest in figuring things out.

It was then 2004 and I was starting to feel great. Aside from taking a multivitamin and one green health drink daily, I was also religiously exercising at the YMCA – every morning at 6 A.M. I rode an exercise bike, which my wife sarcastically called the “Granny bike,” but I didn’t care what she called it, as I was riding it 45 minutes a day and eventually lost 25 pounds. I felt on top of the world and believed in my heart that I was well on my way to leading a normal life, just like all my friends. That spring, I returned to my doctor who enthusiastically reported that my MS symptoms were so much better. The improvement was so marked, he said, that people who didn’t know me won’t even think I ever had MS.

In the course of my reading, I came across articles about how deceiving all pharmaceuticals were and how vile the FDA was. I had my hands on the Physician’s Guide to Prescription Drugs, which stated that the MS drug I was taking was doing me more harm than good. This, coming from a doctor of holistic medicine. That statement scared me silly!

According to these articles, I needed to purge my body of the harmful chemicals introduced by all the drugs I have taken over the years. I also had to get rid of the massive amounts of harmful bacteria and yeast inside my body, which were wreaking havoc on my organs. I had no choice but to change my diet – no red meat, no dairy, and no vinegar – I had to eat just as Jesus did or at least stick as close as possible to a vegan diet.

To cut the long story short, I stopped taking my Copaxone cold turkey but went on with my diet and daily exercise regimen. I felt renewed, refreshed, and rejuvenated. In fact, I felt so happy that I decided to plan the trip of a lifetime with my family. We set our sights on Glacier National Park in Montana and intended to hike at least 5 miles a day on the mountains.

The trip’s highlight was a 2-day stay at the Granite Park Chalet. This rustic hotel was built in the 1930s and can only be accessed via an eight-mile trail along the Continental Divide. It was a fitting cap to our physically challenging adventure, and the views from the chalet could take anyone’s breath away. The silence and solitude at that place washed over my soul like a comforting blanket. For two days, at least, I was able to block off the vagaries of daily life and totally communed with God and nature.

That was in August of 2004, and I never had any inkling that the world was about to come crashing on me in only a few months. In December that same year, I came down with a bacterial infection on my leg. No, it had nothing to do with the MS, but it sent me on a one-year tailspin. The infection was called cellulitis and it was so insidious that I was in and out of the hospital, constantly on intravenous antibiotics for over 3 months. My body was absolutely shot. I felt like I had no immunity to anything.

And that was just the beginning. My walking was also down to less than a mile. I hoped to be able to at least walk around either the big block, the lake, or even the small block around my house – but I couldn’t do any of these without a cane and without stopping to rest every couple steps. What the heck happened to my body? I went from the apex all the way to the abyss in a matter of four months. I was struggling with depression and was constantly feeling sorry for myself. Although I strived to keep at my diet, I was no longer as dedicated to it as before.

Right after this devastating experience, my vision again dealt me another blow. Things were definitely going down hill, my sight clouded over during our walks and I would constantly stumble while walking as well.

To make matters worse, Christine would always pick on my driving and openly express how much she resented my taking the wheel. Only one year after my magnificent Alpine experience, I had to voluntarily give up driving. My decision was prompted by an accident that occurred when I missed a light. At the time, it was tax season yet again, and I was under a great deal of stress. No one was hurt or killed, thank God. But it also meant that my optic neuritis was back – with a vengeance.

It was like treading the waters with the last few ounces of willpower, and I knew I’d be hitting rock bottom soon. I could no longer walk, much less drive a car. I could no longer see clearly while working. Even our marital relationship was bearing the brunt of my condition. Once, Christine expressed how happy she was that I wasn’t driving anymore. As soon as she said this, I felt so enraged. What in heaven’s name could you be happy about? Here I am, I have lost nearly everything, and you are happy? I was so mad at her that I wanted to withdraw completely from life.

My relationships even with friends and other members of my family suffered, and so did my performance at work. The rest of 2005 was a hazy blur – an unpleasant rollercoaster ride that I’d rather forget. Multiple sclerosis is like a thief that sneaks up on you wherever and whenever it wants to, often when you least expect it.

It was gnawing at my being little by little, both physically and emotionally. But a voice inside me nagged that everything happening in my life is a result of a decision I have made at a certain point in time. I realized then that I needed to change, and change now.

The first step to making this change was to get off my pity pad. Feeling sorry for myself only dragged me farther down the pit I was sinking in. I tried my best to turn 180 degrees from where I was at to realize that I still had a stable job, and that there are incredible tools available for the blind that I could use at work. There was also a bus that left one block from my house which could drop me off less than a mile from my office.

I thought about my loving family and my parents who were willing to work with me through my problems. Armed with this new perspective, I came to terms with the fact that my life was actually very good and only I could make it better. I had to bring my mind back to the days where everything was possible and when I could overcome any obstacle.

The second step was to start feeding my mind with positive ideas. I was an avid reader in high school and college, and merely stopped for some reason. I went back to certain classics that I had in my library – books such as Think and Grow Rich, The Magic of Believing, Grow Rich with Peace of Mind, and 70 others. I was on a mission to get my mental game back in check. I also started to read some health books – the MS Diet Book by Swank, and an informational book from the MS Society.

Another milestone in my life was marked February 18, 2006 – it was a day that had been seventeen long years in the making. This was when I resolved never to take anymore Excedrin®, period. Quitting cold turkey was the only way for me to go in the middle of tax season. After two miserable weeks I was finally free from the shackles of this terrible addiction.

For me, this was truly an example of ‘mind over matter,’ and one that I am most proud of. My message to anyone who believes that an over-the-counter drug can’t harm you is: Think again. These things can invade your system little by little and eventually control you. Seek help to move on if you are having problems, and don’t take no for an answer.

By this time, my wife was elated that I was in a better mood, but was keen on pushing me to use some of my knowledge. It was now August of 2006 and I was ready to make the transition from being a passive reader to moving forward by sharing my knowledge with others. For the first time in my life, I was ready to commit to my goals in writing.

There were goals for business, for my family, and for my health. I realized that at age 34, there was a lot more of life for me to live, with or without MS. Once these goals were written and committed, my brain could then figure out how I was going to achieve them. I started to speak in public for my job again, and it felt great. No one could tell that I couldn’t see very well or that I couldn’t drive myself to the meeting. What mattered was they came to see me for the ideas I had in my head.

My work performance improved, and it was rewarding both financially and mentally. In April of 2007, I was able to fulfill one of the most important goals on my list. This was the goal of walking the 1 ½-mile handicap trail at a park near my home, unassisted.

Today, I am able to walk unassisted 2 miles again. I have not regained my eyesight and continue not to drive. I exercise daily, take my MS medicine three time a week, and watch my diet. I have no idea what Multiple Sclerosis has in store for me next, but I now look into the future with unbridled optimism and a knowledge that I will be alright. I take each day for what it is and make the most of it.

Like me, you can make a difference in your own life and in the lives of others. We did not ask to have multiple sclerosis, none of us did, but we can definitely use it to help others in the end.

(C) CG Groth Inc. 2007

Robert Groth, author of “Beat Multiple Sclerosis”, is a collection of inspirational stories of others who have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. For more information on MS or Robert Groth’s book, Beat Multiple Sclerosis go to

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Consolidation Roundup

September 30, 2007 by  

OLD NAME: Battling M.S.

NEW NAME: Battling For Health: Multiple Sclerosis


I am consolidating all of my “Battling” series of blogs into one mega site called (Battling For Health)

The plan is: First the transfers, then the testing, .. and finally the 301 redirects to ensure link popularity and let the search engines know we moved!

This move should be completed by October 1, 2007. As for moving, it’s all really the same old site and all of its’ existing settings .. it’s just a new URL location .. that’s all~

Thank-You For Your Patience! // HART

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.