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Multiple Sclerosis Devastates Lives

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Multiple Sclerosis Devastates Lives

Dr. Miller states on page 293 in his book Coping with Chronic Illness “Multiple Sclerosis is the most predominant of the human demyelinating diseases.” Multiple Sclerosis is the demyelinating of the central nerve system of the brain and spinal cord. The demyelinating process is the destruction of the fatty material, myelin, which insulates nerves. The damage is caused by the immune system treating the myelin as a disease. The results of the attack of the immune system cause cognitive loss throughout the body.
The history of Multiple Sclerosis begins with Jean Cruveilhier, professor of pathology at the University of Paris, who is credited for the first documentation and description of MS in 1830. In the 1880’s, Dr. Freud treated his nanny for Multiple Sclerosis and is credited for the first treatments of MS. Prior to the use of the MRI in 1981 diagnosis was difficult, the most common method used to test for Multiple Sclerosis was by dunking the patient in a hot tub of water to try and bring about the symptoms of MS. (Kalb, R. (1996). Multiple Sclerosis page 43)
There are many theories as to the onset of Multiple Sclerosis. As stated by Ronald Schapira, M.D. in his book Symptom Management in Multiples Sclerosis page 11,” Until the cause of MS is determined, it is unlikely that a cure will be found”. Some believe that it is a viral infection. If it is a viral infection then why would only some people exposed to the virus contract MS and not others. Environmental factors, including air, water, food born toxins, temperature, sun-light exposure and nutritional deficiencies. Scientists are sure of one aspect of MS, and that it is an autoimmune disease. To understand this form of a disease we must take a closer look at the immune system. The immune system is responsible for destroying viruses and bacteria. The immune system sends messengers in the form of white blood cells to attack the foreign viruses or bacteria. In the case of MS the immune system attacks the myelin. The immune system is made up of many cells that are stored in different parts of the body. Some cells are made in the bone marrow and are called B cells. Some cells are made in the thymus gland and are called T cells. There is also the T suppressor. These cells suppress reactions to the immune system while other cells called T helpers assist the immune system in protecting the body. Then the macrophages cell becomes the targeting agent of the immune system directing the B cells to attack and simultaneously controlling the T cells, T helpers and T suppressors. The actions of all of these cells create the immune reaction. Doctors and scientist believe that this is where MS originates. (Schapiro, R. (1998). Symptom Management in Multiple Sclerosis page 13)
Multiple Sclerosis destroys lives, with crippling emotional and physical effects to all patients and family members, with no current anticipation for cure. Multiple Sclerosis physically cripples the patient while lowering his or her self esteem. The patients’ children are often thereby robbed of enrichments and activities. The partner in the marriage is often overwhelmed by financial and physical responsibilities, as well as extra parenting.
There are actually four categorical types of Multiple Sclerosis. These different types are labeled by the symptoms of the disease. The first is Relapsing-Remitting. This form is defined by attacks with full recovery. There are usually long periods of time between attacks. From one attack to the next there can pass several years. The next category is Primary Progressive. This form of the disease has a progressive attack with little or no recovery time. The third category ironically is called Secondary Progressive. This phase of the disease starts out with severe attacks against the myelin, and then has a period of remission until the next attack which then becomes progressive with no remission. The last category is Progressive-Relapsing. This pattern of MS is progressive from the on-set of the disease, usually leaving the patient incapacitated. This is the worst of the stages of the disease and usually found in patients over the age of forty. MS is a multifactorial disease. This means that that there are multiple factors involved in the disease and that these factors function in a highly specific way to result in the disease process. (MS and Your Feelings, page12)
The so called treatments for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are nothing more than a fallacy, since only the symptoms and not the causes are ever treated. As Stated by Judith Nichols in her book Woman Living with Multiple Sclerosis on page 5 “Aside from few systemic remedies, multiple sclerosis is usually treated symptomatically.” Nassau, swelling, weakness, etc. are treated but not the underlying etiological bases in the myelin of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are;
Fatigue this symptom is the most disabling of all the symptoms. For patients with MS they experience a “short circuiting” type of fatigue this means that a limb will become weak and non-responsive.
Spasticity is stiffness of the body muscles, mainly the muscles that allow a person to sit in the up-right position. This spasticity is a result of demyelination in the portion of the brain and spine that control muscle tone.
Weakness MS patient who have disabilities, especially in the legs have to use other muscles to compensate for movement, this leads to weakness.
Tremor is one of the most frustrating symptoms of MS, mostly seen in the facial region.
Balance the cerebellum is mainly responsible for the balance of the human body, but weakness and fatigue in any of the limbs will also cause a loss of balance.
Walking (Ambulation) movement impairment is common with patients having MS. Difficulty in walking is a major impairment with MS.
Sexuality there is a couple of reasons for the loss of sexual activities. The first is due to the lack of sensitivity causing a loss of physical sensitivity. The second is the emotional factor. People with chronic illnesses or disabilities often lack a sense of personal attractiveness. If the person does not find them-self attractive, why would someone else?
Bladder symptoms the bladder is a muscle that is controlled by the brain. With the damage to the myelin this causes a communication problem between the brain and the bladder. When a patient continuously fails to empty the bladder on a regular basis, the result is an infection in the bladder. This is a common but dangerous cycle for MS patients. With an infection in the body the immune system is activated and the attack of the myelin begins resulting in more damage.
Bowl symptoms the transmission from the brain to the sphincter muscle can be impaired by the damage from MS. Lacking the control of the sphincter can cause an uncontrolled bowl movement.
Pain is a result from the “short circuiting” of nerve sensory impulses. A patient may experience pain without any real reason.
Speech Difficulties speech patterns are controlled by many areas of the brain. Depending on where the damaged myelin many different alterations to the speech may occur.
Swallowing is one of the most common complaints with MS patients. Often MS patient choke while eating, this is controlled by a diet of soft foods. This is an effect of the damaged myelin that controls the sensory nerves to the esophagus. This can be fatal to people with MS, it can cause the patient to choke. In some cases this can cause the patient to stop taking in food, leading to malnutrition and even paralysis.
Cognition is a deficiency in memory, planning, foresight, and judgment. To scientist this is not a surprise. The thought process is a transfer via the myelin, with damage to the myelin the transfer is distorted.
Vision difficulties caused by the inflammation of the optic nerve do to demyelination cause the patient to lose focus.
Dizziness and Vertigo this leaves the patient with the feeling of spinning, when severe enough can cause nausea and vomiting.
Weight Gain with activity levels being reduced do to the effects of MS, weight gain is a severe problem, often leading to high blood pressure and diabetes.
Numbness is a common complaint with MS patients. It has no physical effect, but can have a physiological effect.
Cold feet and body temperature, is controlled by the nervous system referred to as “autonomic” which control heart rate, and sweating. With demyelination of this part of the brain, the function is damaged.
Swollen Ankles is a result of the lymphatic fluid building up in the legs do to a lack of movement of the leg muscles. (Symptoms Management in Multiple Sclerosis, page 25) Finding solutions for one of Multiple Sclerosis’ worst and maybe even most dangerous symptom is depression. Depression demands easing the patients stress to avoid further on-set of the disease. This depression often causes the symptoms of the disease to exasperate. These exasperations of the symptoms may lead to long term disabilities and/or be life threatening to the patient. ( Polman, P. (2001). Multiple Sclerosis The Guide to Treatment and Management page 127) Multiple Sclerosis causes many physical dysfunctions of the body, hindering the ability to complete common tasks, and leaving the person to feel as though he or she no-longer contribute to the family, creating depression. This type of depression leads to stress. As stated by Dr.Kalb in her book Multiple Sclerosis The Questions You Have The Answers You Need on page 273 “Stress is no stranger to people with Multiple Sclerosis. In fact many of those living with the disease believe that stress may be one of the precipitating factors in the onset of MS and its progression.” Symptoms of depression; feeling sad, empty, irritable, tearful, loss of interest in activities, appetite change, loss of sleep, slow movement fatigue, loss of energy, feeling worthless, inability to make rational decisions, and thoughts of suicide. These symptoms cause the patient’s distress to worsen. “Adjustment is a lifelong process that ebbs and flows with the unpredictable changes brought about by the diseases.” (Multiple Sclerosis; a guide for families, page10) The evaluation of everyday common tasks is necessary in order to find areas that can be modified to enable the patient to complete these tasks. Having controls installed in a vehicle, allows the patient the freedom and mobility to drive. These evaluations may also lead to the installation of a shower and tub unit which accommodates a handicapped patient. Updating kitchen cabinets that have roll out drawers for easy access storage. Installation of hand rails. One may also consider rearranging furniture to accommodate the patient’s rooms for easier wheelchair maneuverability. (Movement Disorders Source Book Page 293) The solution to these routine dilemmas is for the family to intervene. This is accomplished by assisting in everyday common tasks while allowing the patient to genuinely play a useful role in daily chores, which thereby enables the patient to feel better about contributing to the family. By allowing the patient to contribute it helps alleviates the stress on both the patient and on the caregivers as well. However caution must be taken as to not harm the rest of the family by over burdening the children. Multiple Sclerosis victimizes not only the person with the illness but also the patients’ family. These effects are physical, monetary, and emotional. The disease creates physical limitations to the patients’ activities, creating a stress on the caregivers and family. The medical needs and demands are expensive. The patients’ needs and sufferings create an emotional atmosphere and inter relationships of the home.
Multiple Sclerosis creates physical limitations on the person with the illness. Some of the limitations include loss of muscular control to the limbs of the body, such as motor functions to the arms and the legs. Frequently the patient deteriorates to the point of using a wheel chair to get around. When for instance, the patients’ body can no-longer regulate its own temperature; this loss has meant that the patient cannot perform even a simple task such as preparing a meal. Household choirs are also limited, placing more of the responsibility on the caregivers and the children to maintain the cleanliness of common areas. ( Rosner, J. (2008). Multiple Sclerosis.)
The expensive treatments, even when covered by insurance, can cause devastating economic hardships. Even when initially insurances cover the majority of the patients’ medical needs. Over time the coverage declines as the needs increase. Patients’ often take large doses of costly maintenance drugs. These drugs maintain their ability to complete the simplest tasks such as urinating and being able to sleep. There are also expensive medical procedures such as pumps placed in the abdomen used to directly deliver medication to patients’ whose legs are locked in the fetal position. The cost for the pump is $34,000, and the rehabilitation is several thousand.
Wheel chair patients feel physically vulnerable. Often families add security devices, such as alarms and re-enforced entry doors, to the home to make the patient feel secure. When out shopping or at a restaurant, patients rarely relax and are constantly observing the surroundings. Patients’ rarely feel secure in any setting without a family member or caregiver being nearby. (MS and Your Feelings page 187)
Children usually accept their parents’ disability with minimal duress, even when the parent feels that he or she is an embarrassment to the children. As stated by Dr. Kalb on page 74 in her book Multiple Sclerosis a Guide for Families “Most children have less difficulty understanding obvious symptoms that they see on a day-to-day basis.” Most children seem to accept their parents’ disability with minimal duress, but the parent often feels as though he or she is an embarrassment to the children. In actuality it is the patient who does not except the situation, thus projecting their emotions upon the children. Physical pain and depression are but two many aspects of Multiple Sclerosis devastation. There are many theories as to the onset of Multiple Sclerosis ranging from a viral infection to an immune deficiency. Some of the most common symptoms such as loss of cognition and loss of mobility lead to depression and suffering by the patient and family caregivers. With no real treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and only the ability to suppress symptoms, victims and families must except that there is no cure.

Miller, J. (2000). Coping with Chronic Illness. Pennsylvania, Davis Company
Kalb, R. (1996). Multiple Sclerosis. New York, Demos Medical Publishing.
Schapiro, R. (1998). Symptom Management in Multiple Sclerosis. New York, Demos Medical Publishing
Polman, P. (2001). Multiple Sclerosis The Guide to Treatment and Management. New York, Demos Medical Publishing
Shadday, A. (2007). MS and Your Feelings. Almada California, Hunter House
Nichols, J. (1999). Woman Living with Multiple Sclerosis. Almada California, Hunter House
Kalb, R. (2004). Multiple Sclerosis The Questions You Have The Answers You Need. New York, Demos Medical Publishing
Kalb, R. (1998). Multiple Sclerosis A Guide for Families. New York, Demos Vermande.
Shannon, J. (2003). Movement Disorders Sourcebook. Michigan, Omnigraphics Inc.
Rosner, J. (2008). Multiple Sclerosis. New York, Simon & Schuster

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