Tuesday, March 04, 2003 - 15:00
By Rachel Punch
When Bob Burgess was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1994, he turned to the MS Society for help.
“(The MS Society) was a big source of information,” said Burgess. “They also hooked me up with a support group.”
Burgess moved to Collingwood from Mississauga in 1997, and last year, with the help of Janet Tripp — who also has MS — he set up a support group for area residents.
“I think it’s important for people with MS to realize other people out there (have the disease),” he said.
“The symptoms are different (for everyone), but they have similar problems,” added Tripp, who was diagnosed in 1991.
Burgess had thought of setting up a support group earlier, but it wasn’t until after the MS Supercities Walk last year that he realized the need.
“After the walk last year I (received) a number of inquiries,” he said.
The group first met last June and has been meeting once a month since.
At the last meeting, a naturopathic doctor spoke to the group about nutrition and naturopathic therapies.
At the next meeting, at the Collingwood Public Library on March 13, a representative from the MS Society will speak about controlling pain.
The 12-member group is made up of people with MS, and their family members. Burgess said members are at different stages of the disease.
MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. A fatty tissue, called myelin, surrounds and protects the nerve fibres of the central nervous system.
With MS, the myelin is lost in several areas, leaving scar tissue called sclerosis. When the nerve fibre is destroyed or damaged, the nerves can’t properly communicate with the brain.
Among the symptoms of MS are bladder and bowel dysfunction, cognitive problems, dizziness and vertigo, loss of balance, fatigue and loss of vision.
Burgess was first diagnosed when he lost the vision in his left eye. He lost his license for three years as a result, but he managed to get it back.
Burgess now has problems with his balance so he uses a cane to walk or a walker for long distances.
Tripp also must walk with a cane because of her balance. She does not have her license because she has double vision.
Both Tripp and Burgess have a type of MS called secondary progressive. This type of condition develops slowly, but patients never recover.
“Unfortunately there is no pill you can take to get rid of it,” said Burgess. “There is very little that you can do.”
Tripp said the symptoms are always changing.
“Each morning you wake up and you don’t know what symptoms will hit you,” she said.
Burgess and Tripp will be at this year’s Supercities Walk on April 13 at 9:30 a.m.
The walk, which has both a six-kilometre and 14-km route, will start and finish at Collingwood Collegiate Institute.
This is the fourth year Collingwood has held the walk; last year, almost $72,000 was raised.
“A good portion of the money (raised) goes to the Simcoe County chapter (of the MS Society),” said Mark Brogno, coordinator of fund-raising events.
Lunch will be provided by local businesses and the Ontario Early Years Centre staff is providing activities for children.
Pledge forms are available at www.supercitieswalk.com or at most local businesses. Prizes will be awarded according to pledge dollars, but no minimum amount of pledges is required.
Volunteers and members of the support group will also be at Blue Mountain Mall on Saturday. A display about the walk and the support group will be set up from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
More information about the support group is available by phoning Burgess
at 446-1376 or Tripp at 446-2709.
© 2003, Osprey Media Group Inc.