February 08, 2004
MAYA was a regular college girl, full of life. When suddenly one day, she found she could not use her right hand to write, draw, eat and dress. A general practitioner put it down to weakness. She took some tonics and recovered completely. Years later, Maya suddenly became paralysed below her waist, losing control over bladder and bowel movements. Only then was it diagnosed as a case of Multiple Sclerosis(MS).
What is this condition and what can be done? It is on the premises of
these very questions that the MS society of India was formed. The MSSI
was established in Mumbai in 1985 while the Pune Chapter came up in 1989.
‘‘To bring about awareness and reach out to MS patients are our main objectives,’’says
secretary NP Joshi.
MS is a chronic progressive disease of the central nervous system in which the simplest tasks can no longer be efficiently performed; the symptoms vary from slight blurring of vision to complete paralysis. Joshi explains its causes thus: ‘‘Our bodies contain a fatty substance called myelin which protects fibres of the brain and spinal cord. When any part of this myelin sheathing is destroyed, nerve impulses to the brain are distorted, which is the cause of MS.’’
That’s where the MSSI comes into the picture. ‘‘ Many people who have this problem have readjusted to their lives,with a little help’’says Bamankar.
Members of the MSSI can avail of facilities like home visits and counselling. Alternative therapies are also stressed upon in the workshops. ‘‘One could go in for yoga,naturopathy, homeopathy, ayurveda, relaxation etc. Patients who have tried these methods narrate their experiences in the monthly meetings, ’’says another social worker, Hutoxi.
The office of the Pune chapter in Kalyani Nagar is open to all queries. ‘‘We have many specialists visiting us for lectures,’’adds Bamankar. Problems vary from lack of awareness to expensive diagnostic services, no insurance cover to lack of social support systems. “The MSSI tries to help out on all these fronts’’ say Bamankar and Hutoxi.Raising funds for this purpose is a major work of the MSSI. ‘‘We need more people to help us to reach out ,’’ says Bamakar. The chapter will celebrate the MS day on February 14 at the YMCA hall between 3.30 pm-6.30 pm.
The MSSI may be contact ed at 26614779.
Copyright © 2004, Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.