More MS news articles for Nov 2001

After decades with MS, she now takes nothing for granted

Monday, November 5, 2001

Janet Schneider, 58, of St. Paul has had multiple sclerosis for two decades and tried many treatments. As her muscles weakened, she began using canes and a wheelchair. It was a roller coaster at times: She'd improve, then worsen, then improve again. For seven years, she got around with the help of two canes. About 1 1/2 years ago, she began taking a new drug that she hoped would help stabilize her. At about the same time, her husband became sick with leukemia (he later died). Her 23-year-old daughter later moved home with her. Schneider still has MS, but she has regained much of her independence.

"If I stayed where I was at, I would have been happy with that. I noticed my balance got so much better. The weakness in my legs was less pronounced. I had one eye removed from glaucoma (unrelated to MS). My vision has stabilized. I just passed the eye test for my driver's license.

"Once in a while, I'll use a cane. Most of the time, I can walk without a cane. I can do yardwork. I can do housework. I still have fatigue, numbness and tingling, but I can vacuum, scrub my floors, walk the dogs. It's exciting. So many people take that for granted.

"I volunteer at my church. I lost my sister and husband to cancer and leukemia, so I volunteer at the American Cancer Society. I also volunteer at the MS Society. I work part time, mostly out of my home. I do credentialing for physicians. It's a wonderful thing. It keeps the gray matter going. It keeps me stimulated.

"Besides the vision thing, I have arthritis, anemia and asthma. My drug bill is between $2,000 and $3,000 a month. Fortunately, I have Blue Cross/ Blue Shield for one more year (I kept my husband's insurance for three years). Except for my small deductible, I've been spoiled. I don't know what I am going to do after that. I am worried, but I know something good will happen.

"My deep faith has kept me going. I have really good family ties, lots of friends and my church family. I have a really silly sense of humor. We laugh a lot.

"I'm a positive person. Sometimes, it's a battle. I try to find good things in anything bad. When I was first diagnosed with MS and had to give up my full-time job, I was at home more with my daughter. I volunteered at her school. I have met wonderful people. There are things that have happened in my life that I never would have experienced if I didn't have MS.

"With MS, it's an ongoing thing. You never know (how you'll feel) when you wake up, and you don't know what your day will be like. Those are the days that are frustrating. But that's the MS, trying to cope with everyday changes."

© 2001 PioneerPlanet / St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press /