MS Awareness Month in Ohio
Ohio ranks among the states with the highest incidence of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in the country. So, each year we are asked in various ways in March, including this article, to be aware of this often-misdiagnosed, often-disabling disease.
While these awareness weeks or months help (even if it’s only one person) it seems the most effective awareness of a disease comes when a celebrity is diagnosed with it. An, actress Selma Blair, is the latest well-known person to announce that she has MS.
In an article in the March issue of Vanity Fair, Ms. Blair said that “she had spent the last five years or so fending off a battery of puzzling symptoms that came and went – neck pain, severe vertigo, trouble walking and sudden loss of feeling in her leg. Anxiety and depression too.” Also fatigue.
Had Ms. Blair been aware of the symptoms of MS, she would have changed doctors much sooner. Finally, a new doctor demanded she have an MRI immediately. It showed, her neurologist told her, lesions in her brain indicating that she has MS, an incurable autoimmune disease that interrupts the central nervous system’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body.
Her experiences with symptoms and no correct diagnosis for years were all too common years ago but not since the advent of the MRI with its definitive findings. She should not have suffered those years in vain. That’s why we have awareness weeks and months. The more people know of MS through its symptoms the more they will be able to demand appropriate treatment.
While there is no cure for MS, drugs have been developed to help manage its symptoms and to slow its progression. The earlier MS is diagnosed the better for these drugs to work.
Ms. Blair had many of the classic symptoms of the disease but not all. Other symptoms include: problems with vision, speech, sex, bladder and bowels. Spasticity (stiffness, spasms) and some less frequent symptoms too. (For complete information on MS go to www.nationalmssociety.org.)
It seems that no two people have the same MS, it varies so much by person. It’s as if it’s designed for each person. Its severity and its symptoms cannot be predicted. Some people have attacks and then experience remissions for a while and others have continuing attacks which progressively lead to loss of abilities. Many, if not most, people with MS live full lives even though challenged in various ways. Research continues with progress towards a vaccine and/or cure in the future.
Maybe Hollywood has better plastic surgeons than neurologists; Selma Blair should have been correctly diagnosed much sooner and begun her treatment sooner too. An MS Awareness Month in California may have helped.
We hope this Awareness Month helps someone in Ohio.
Mel Maurer is a retired Manager of Administrative Quality and Distribution for the Boston Weatherhead Division of Dana Corporation. During his 43 years with Dana, He held management positions in Accounting, Information Technology and Administrative Quality and Dsitribution. Mr. Maurer’s civic duties when working included being a member of the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce serving as Chairman of the Government Relations Division and serving as host of the Chamber’s Public Affairs Roundtable. He was also member of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce - Government Affairs Committee and a member of the U.S. Chamber’s Public Affairs Committee. He also served as a member of the Williamson County Economic Development Showcase Committee, a member of the Tennessee Association Of Business Public Affairs Committee; a member of the Policy Board of Directors for INROADS/NASHVILLE INC. and a member of the Board of Directors of the Williamson County Heart Association. He wrote columns on government affairs for the Chamber Newsletter and the Nashville Multiple Sclerosis Association. He chaired the Williamson County Toys For Tots (T4T) Campaign and chaired the Government Relations Committee of the Middle Tennessee MS Society. In his retirement, he is a member of the Government Relations committee of the Buckeye Chapter of the MS Society and a 2007 enductee into the National MS Society’s Volunteer Hall of Fame and was selected as one of the “Faces of Westlake” in 2007. He is past president of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, now its Historian, and past president of the Philosophical Club of Cleveland and a member of the Titanic Historic Society. He is the 2009 Charirman of Westlake’s Charter Review Committee. He also writes articles for various organizations and speaks on a variety of topics. He has had more than 500 “Letters to Editors” printed in a number of newspapers and magazines including: Time, Readers Digest, USA Today, The Plain Dealer, The Sun Press, The Nashville Tennessean, The New Republic and others. He is also a published poet. He has hosted over 50 hours of TV shows broadcast on on cable in Cleveland and other cities in Northeast Ohio and has appeared in two plays presented by the Civil War Roundtable and one at the Huntington Playhouse. Mr. Maurer received a Bachelor of Science degree from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He and his wife, Elaine, live in Westlake, Ohio. They have four children, eight grandchildren and one great granddaughter. His interests include writing and speaking on community affairs, charitable causes, history, political issues and personal experiences.