MS Specialist Enterprise AL
Fort Rucker, AL
Medical School: Finch U Of Hs/Chicago Med Sch, North Chicago Il 60664
Graduation Year: 1986
Medical School: Royal Coll Of Surgeons In Ireland, Med Sch, Dublin, Ireland
Graduation Year: 1990
Medical School: Univ Of South Al Coll Of Med, Mobile Al 36688
Graduation Year: 1993
Medical School: Wright State Univ Sch Of Med, Dayton Oh 45401
Graduation Year: 1999
Neurology, Alzheimer's Specialist
Medical School: Univ Of Pittsburgh Sch Of Med, Pittsburgh Pa 15261
Graduation Year: 1991
Accepting New Patients: Yes
3.5, out of 5 based on 10, reviews.
By Michelle Theall
Ask 10 different people with multiple sclerosis (MS) what the disease feels like and you will likely get 10 different answers. It’s a bit like the story of the blind man and the elephant. When the man feels the elephant’s trunk, he believes he has touched a snake. He holds the tusk and envisions a pointy marble spire. As he places his hands on the elephant’s foot, he describes a giant tree trunk. In a way, MS is like that elephant. Those touched by it never know how it will feel, even though each rough patch is part of the same animal. Depending on where the attack occurs and how severe the scarring, this progressive autoimmune disease may manifest as numbness, paralysis, memory and cognitive function problems, blindness, bowel and bladder issues, fatigue, muscle spasms, painful sensations, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms.
I have MS, and it often feels like I’m sprinting underwater with someone sitting on my shoulders—off-balance, impenetrable, and weighty. At other times, it presents itself as relentless vibrations coursing through my feet, hands, arms, and face. After three years with this disease, I’m still not sure how it will announce itself on a given day, but its presence is undeniable.
Getting to Know the Elephant
How can MS vary so much within and between individuals? MS affects the brain and the central nervous system (CNS), and the CNS pretty much controls everything we say, do, feel, see, and think. With MS, the immune system goes haywire and begins attacking the healthy insulating tissue (myelin) that protects the axons in the brain. In my case, the misdirected siege caused nine or so plaques (scarred spots) in various areas of my brain. Since different sections of the brain handle different functions, any activity can be affected, depending on where the scars hit. It’s as if MS were a bolt of lightening striking the circuit breaker box in your home—some of the wires might get fried, others remain untouched. The fridge still works, but the surge erased last night’s episode of Desperate Housewives from your TiVo. When MS strikes it might cause balance or coordination problems one day; another day it may affect your memory or your vision; a month later, you may temporarily (or permanently) lose the use of your legs.
Almost 500,000 people nationwide have MS. In fact, a new person is diagnosed every hour. No one really knows what causes it, but theories abound. Some researchers suggest that a common virus like measles or herpes or even the flu may be responsible; others say a person can be born with a genetic predisposition to react to something in the environment, which will trigger an autoimmune response.
In searching for a cause and a cure, researchers look for common denominators among patient groups—and more than a few exist. This is what they know: MS strikes twice as many women as men; it prefers Caucasians between the ages of 20 and 40; it is more prevalent in geographic areas above 40 degr...
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