David Lander, aka Squiggy, Talks About the Disease
David Lander, better known as Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman from the television show Laverne & Shirley, joined us for a live chat on Wednesday, June 9.
For the past 15 years, Lander has been hiding a secret - his battle with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nervous system disease. Now he wants to make a difference and talk to as many people as he can about MS.
Moderator at 11:55am ET
Welcome everyone. Mr. Lander is with us live! Welcome Mr. Lander.
David Lander at 11:55am ET
I'm very excited to be here and I hope that people can learn something so much the better.
Sally from r3.scwlbo.infoave.net at 11:55am ET
I am curious as to what your original symptoms were - typical,
atypical, alarming, did they "sneak" up on you as mine did?
David Lander at 11:58am ET
My symptoms were typical I suppose though I didn't know what they were typical of. At first, it felt like my legs had fallen asleep and I had a tingly sensation in my fingers and then it just sort of went away. When they returned, I had trouble walking down stairs. At first I thought it was some type of vertigo because my balance was off when I looked down.
Mary from proxy.aol.com at 11:58am ET
I know that Avonex is supposed to slow the progress of MS. However, have you noticed any improvement in your condition?
David Lander at 11:59am ET
Yes I have. I have noticed an improvement, particularly in my stamina and my balance.
paul mc bride from [184.108.40.206], at 11:59am ET
I was diagnosed with MS in 1989. What is the difference in the ABC Drugs since you have used Avonex & Betaseron.
David Lander at 12:02pm ET
The main difference for me is I had a side effect from Betaseron. It activated another condition - psoriasis. And I had to inject Betaseron every other day, which I did for about three years. Then I switched to Avonex with no side effects, except for a little bit of stiffness in the limbs the day after the injection. Avonex I take once a week.
crowder276 from proxy.aol.com at 12:03pm ET
I'm having problems with my Gait. What types of exercise do you do? Are you on any special diets? thanks for the info
David Lander at 12:04pm ET
Well I have gait problems as well. And I do exercise but not
particularly for that. The MS Society does have a list of special exercises and he should call them.
Matthew Gilmartin from [220.127.116.11], at 12:04pm ET
What in particular about the disease caused you to drop out of public view for 15 years?
David Lander at 12:06pm ET
The disease did not make me drop out sight. My career made me drop out of sight. I just wasn't on a hit show again and I know I can't really blame the MS. But now that I have gone public, I will.
Moderator at 12:07pm ET
People were wondering if you keep in touch with your fellow friends from "Laverne and Shirley".
David Lander at 12:07pm ET
Yes I do, but only recently have I revealed to them that I am suffering from MS.
Carolyn Morgenstern from [18.104.22.168], at 12:08pm ET
I have had tremendous success with bee venom therapy, and many of my friends have too. Did you ever try that?
David Lander at 12:08pm ET
No, I haven't. But now that you have had tremendous success with it I think I will!
Joan from [22.214.171.124], at 12:08pm ET
Why did you decide to speak out now after 15 years about having this disease?
David Lander at 12:09pm ET
I realized I could do more good by telling people than keeping it to myself. And it can be very lonely when you have sworn yourself to secrecy.
donna j. from fuse.net at 12:10pm ET
Have you had any negative reactions to your announcement that you have MS?
David Lander at 12:10pm ET
So far so good. In fact, I have been amazed at how positive people have been. Had I known they would have been so positive, I would have told them sooner.
Shannon Shrodes from [126.96.36.199], at 12:12pm ET
Thank you for opening up to your fans about your diagnosis. It makes a lot of people with MS feel that we are still not alone in this!
ricki from [188.8.131.52], at 12:13pm ET
Thank you for publicizing your MS, I too have MS. You have helped my daughter who is nine and a big fan of Laverne and Shirley. She has been so impressed with your announcement. THANK YOU.
fred from proxy.aol.com at 12:14pm ET
I am going next week for an MRI to hopefully rule out MS but I am curious about the reaction of your family when you told them about your diagnosis.
David Lander at 12:17pm ET
My wife was devastated as was I. Once we decided we were going to live through this, we decided it was going to be a part of our lives and we had to just deal with it. My daughter was just a year old when I was diagnosed, and she has never known me without MS. Good luck with your MRI. But if you do have MS, don't hesitate to ask for help. And there are many places to go, starting with the MS Society.
Sue Freedman from [184.108.40.206], at 12:17pm ET
My husband was diagnosed in 1/99 and has had some cognitive problems with speech and thinking clearly. Have you had similar problems?
David Lander at 12:18pm ET
I have not had speech problem - just balance and walking. But many times these symptoms can go away as quickly as they came. Hopefully his will too.
Diane from [220.127.116.11], at 12:19pm ET
My husband was diagnosed about 4 years ago with chronic progressive MS. He's been on Copaxone (daily self-injections) for about 4 months. In the last month or so he has been going downhill. But his biggest problem right now is optic neuritis. Have you experienced any problems with your eyesight? Does hot temperatures affect you? We live in a hot climate and the heat really affects his symptoms. Thanks!
David Lander at 12:20pm ET
The first thing I was told after my diagnosis was to stay out of hot, humid climates. When I had to work under those conditions I found that taking a very cold shower would revitalize me and I could face the heat again.
Jenny from [18.104.22.168] at 12:20pm ET
Dave, what do you do to stay positive when you are having a bad day?
David Lander at 12:22pm ET
I sit down and try to think of all the good things I have in spite of this disease. The important thing to remember is that MS has nothing to do with something you did. It was something that happened to you. And don't get down on yourself. It's not your fault.
Victoria from [22.214.171.124], at 12:22pm ET
My boyfriend, who is 27, was recently diagnosed with MS. Do you know of any books or reference material with a positive message? The
information we've looked at so far from the MS Society is quite depressing.
David Lander at 12:24pm ET
You have probably read the pamphlets that the Society gave to you. Though they are valuable, they will give you the worse case scenario. There is a book I like called "Living with MS" and it will answer a lot of your questions in a positive way.
GG from tnt4.hou3.da.uu.net at 12:24pm ET
Do you ever suffer from fatigue? Have you had days where it is hard to do much of anything?
David Lander at 12:26pm ET
Yes. Especially around 4 p.m. I find myself getting very sleepy. So if I am able, I will get into a very cold shower .... and there's also a pill called Cylert that I use twice a day that really picks me up. It is not habit forming and not an amphetamine.
Don from qrc.com at 12:26pm ET
Dave: Have you ever thought about developing a one-man show about your experiences? You can do so many characters and voices. Or maybe an NPR- like radio series, 2 minutes a day kind of thing. Think about it!
David Lander at 12:27pm ET
Well, thanks for advice and yes, I have thought about it. And would you like to be my producer?
Moderator at 12:28pm ET
What do you think about the future and what goals do you have?
David Lander at 12:29pm ET
Well I would love to continue acting and also I plan to write a book about all this. Maybe I can talk about MS truthfully and hopefully give you something to giggle about. It's not all terrible and hopefully neither will the book be.
xo,kathy from [126.96.36.199], at 12:30pm ET
Hi David! You will never know the treeeeemendous boost you have given to US by making your MS public. I was diagnosed at 26 and I'm turning 50 in Sept.....had it a looooong time. I understand that you are planning on addressing the DINNER OF CHAMPIONS. Where WILL YOU BE? I GO TO 2 dinners-ONE IN NYC AND ONE IN STAMFORD, CT. My family lives in LA, HI, and I'd like to see you. Where will you be? THANK YOU for going public! xo, kathy
David Lander at 12:31pm ET
I will be at the September 9 event at the Century Plaza in LA.
firstname.lastname@example.org. from [188.8.131.52], at 12:31pm ET
My husband has had MS for 5 years. My daughter was diagnosed in January of this year. Do you worry about genetic transmission to your children?
David Lander at 12:32pm ET
Of course I do. Though I have been told there is nothing to the theory that it can be inherited. My 16-year-old daughter is a wonderful dancer, but anytime she as much as stubs her toe the genetic thing does cross my mind.
debbie hayes from usr1.midd-oh.siscom.net at 12:32pm ET
If you write it, we will buy it.
David Lander at 12:33pm ET
I intend to hold you to that promise.
David Lander at 12:33pm ET
One title I am toying with is "Falling Out of the Closet".
Peg from tnt4.louisville.ky.da.uu.net at 12:34pm ET
I've been able to read about Richard Pryor, but haven't seen anything in so long about Annette. Since you're in the business, maybe you have. Do you know how she's doing? I read her book right after I was diagnosed and it helped a lot.
David Lander at 12:34pm ET
The answer is no.
Reg Freedman from lsa.net at 12:36pm ET
Do you keep up with MS research, such as new drugs and stem cell research?
David Lander at 12:37pm ET
I try to keep up with new drugs. I have had good success with small amounts of marijuana. I find it helps my mobility.
Diane from [184.108.40.206], at 12:38pm ET
Do you attend any support groups? Does it help?
David Lander at 12:39pm ET
My wife started a support group made up of spouses who had MS. It's for couples and we have been meeting for the past four years. It's a wonderful thing to be part of. It's great when another couple expresses the problems they are having and say, "Hey we are having that problem and this is how we are dealing with it".
Joanne Cancel from new-york-16-17rs.ny.dial-access.att.net at 12:40pm
Good tittle for your book!! Ha Ha -- in more ways than one we know a lot about falling!!
David Lander at 12:40pm ET
Silla from 216-41-36.kinkosboston.com at 12:42pm ET
Do you do any alternative treatments such as yoga or acupuncture?
David Lander at 12:43pm ET
I've tried acupuncture for other things but never for MS, but if it helps go with it. And yoga is great for everything.
JANE from proxy.aol.com at 12:44pm ET
I too take Avonex and agree that it has helped me. What do you think are the advantages of this therapy?
David Lander at 12:46pm ET
I think the main advantage is that it (Avonex) stops the progression of MS unlike drugs like Copaxone which only seem to deal with relief.
A.Kalpakis from [220.127.116.11] at 12:47pm ET
PLEASE TELL ME IF THIS DRUG IS AVAILABLE IN CANADA?
David Lander at 12:47pm ET
Contact the MS Society for more information.
Moderator at 12:49pm ET
Unfortunately that is all the time we have today. Thank you all for joining us and many thanks to Mr. David Lander for joining us today.
David Lander at 12:49pm ET
Thank you very much for all your kind words and questions.Yours for the cure, David Lander.