All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for September 2003

I'm doing just fine, thank you for asking

Wednesday, September 3, 2003
Middle Tennessee News & Information

Women have a certain code written into their DNA. They know where every single thing is in any house at any given time: ''Honey! Where are my gloves?'' ''Downstairs bedroom, top drawer, big dresser, on the right side in front.''

Women also have a built-in capacity to give, rather than take. For funerals, women gladly cook wonderful food and take it to the family.

Should the same women be the recipients of the casseroles, it makes them uncomfortable.

So it has made me feel strangely weird when asked, over and over, for two years and eight months, ''How are you doing?'' The answer: I am doing just fine. Really.

Two years and eight months ago (but who's counting, right?) I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I wrote about it and vowed not to again I was afraid it would scare people, frankly.

Instead, I get asked every day, ''How are you doing?''

Just like the woman accepting the meat loaf and fried chicken, it still feels odd to be the recipient of such genuine kindness. Oh, there were a few times I wanted to slap someone over the head with the Tact-o-Meter. But people are mostly a kind bunch. Here's the answer to the question once and for all, while also shamelessly promoting an event that will raise money for MS: I am doing just fine. Really.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system. It is not fatal. People with MS have immune systems that don't know when to stop.

Instead of just attacking foreign invaders, like infections, MS immune systems just keep on attacking.

The target is the insulation that surrounds nerves in the brain, spinal cord or optic nerve. That insulation is called myelin. When the rogue immune cells eat away at myelin, it creates dead spots. Those are called sclerosis. So when you get more than a couple of those spots, ta da! It's multiple sclerosis. Nerves aren't always able to talk to the brain.

MS is an unpredictable and sneaky low-life of a disease. It can be debilitating, causing loss of balance and mobility, stiffness and numbness, blindness and other vision problems, cognitive loss. Or it can sit mostly in remission.

I'm lucky: my MS has been mostly sleeping since my first relapse.

I'm not speaking lightly when I say I'm lucky. I have a loving husband, strong family, good job with health insurance, understanding bosses and friends who offer help. I've learned to accept it with a grateful heart.

Research about MS is constantly filling in pieces of the puzzle. People who were diagnosed decades ago had no choices. None. Now, people with relapsing/remitting MS have four drug treatment choices.

What causes it? How do you cure it? How do you make it easier for people who have it? I think there will be answers in my lifetime.

The Bob Mueller MS Celebrity Golf Scramble (this is the shameless plug part) raises money to help find answers.

It takes place at 1 p.m. Monday at the Hermitage Golf Course's President's Reserve. There's still time to register a team ($1,200 for four) or yourself ($275). Interested? Call 269-9055.

If you don't play golf, you can still help. I'll be at the golf course clubhouse all Monday afternoon, guarding more than 65 fabulous silent auction items such as restaurant dinners and Titans stuff. We even have a pair of Alan Jackson's autographed blue jeans. You don't have to pay a thing to come and look. Think Christmas!

And thanks for asking about me. I'm doing just fine. Really.

Copyright © 2003, The Tennessean