May 09, 2002
By: Bill Kirk
A former nurse who's accustomed to being a caregiver now finds herself the recipient of care as a victim of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Cathy Gunderson was diagnosed with MS last September, though she suspected
as long ago as a year earlier that she might have the degenerative nerve
"Strange things were happening," Gunderson said last Wednesday. She found her judgment was poor and she was losing her sense of reasoning. There was also some clumsiness, plus she remembered her bouts with vertigo and light-headedness years ago.
While doctoring for Carpel-Tunnel Syndrome, she asked about the possibility of MS, she said. An MRI helped confirm her suspicions, showing cloudiness indicating lesions on her brain.
MS affects each victim differently, she said, besides varying in impact from day to day. Some days, there's little noticeable adversity, so she can follow a normal routine. Other days, she's not only overcome with extreme fatigue, but is unable to function at times.
"I can't drive very far," she said, afraid she'll be lost and stranded. She told about an incident when she ended up in the garage of her River Falls residence, only to have to call her daughter in Ellsworth for instructions on how to turn off her vehicle's engine.
Her daughter, Lisa Manor, told last week about another incident, some anxious moments resulting from leaving her children in Gunderson's care at a St. Paul hospital while her husband was having surgery. They were to meet at a prearranged location on the facility's premises, but when Manor showed up, Gunderson and the children weren't there
"I searched frantically for an hour-and-a-half," Manor said, grateful that the episode ended okay. Grandmother and grandchildren were outdoors some distance away, the view of them from the hospital blocked by a pillar.
Gunderson said she left her job as a Registered Nurse with Heartland Home Care last June. She takes an assortment of drugs and has also developed diabetes. The limited disability insurance she had was insufficient to cover her medical expenses, including every-other-day injections costing $1,000 a month. Presently, she's supposed to pay $500 monthly for insurance.
A benefit for Gunderson has been organized by friends and family members, such as Manor, Gunderson's sister, Nancy Gunderson of River Falls, and mother, Betty Gunderson of Ellsworth. The event will be held Saturday, May 18, at 3 p.m. at The Bluffs in Hager City.
There will be prizes such as three new guns donated by her son, Jason Schladweiler and Concrete Specialists, a gift certificate donated by Red Wing Shoe Company and a DVD player. A silent auction will feature items including a hockey stick signed by Karin Bye of River Falls and an item signed by Neil Broton of River Falls. "Southern Class" sound and light show is donating entertainment. There will be food and games, along with activities for children.
Donations are also being accepted by Manor at 594-3225 or 273-4700 and Betty Gunderson at 273-5310 or 273-6331.
©Pierce County Herald 2002