Thursday, 14 July 2011

wonderful world, beautiful people...

You hear me moaning about my own MS all the time.  How about we hear the stories of a couple of people who both work in the same office as me and who both developed symptoms at about the same time as me?

C. is about the same age as me and although we both experienced symptoms at roughly the same time, she was diagnosed much more quickly than me.  Unlike me, C. has had a number of distinct relapses, including some optical neuritis that has permanently affected the colour vision in her left eye.  Overall, in as far as I can tell, she seems relatively physically unaffected by her MS.  She's been getting skinnier and skinnier, but she's fit and well and has just started competing in triathlons - although she's still using a big heavy mountain bike and was asking me the other day where would be a good place to get a good, starter road bike (Decathlon, was my suggestion).  Since her diagnosis, C. has had a couple of kids, but where I decided to start taking disease modifying drugs in an attempt to slow the progress of my MS, C. elected to do nothing.  As of a couple of months ago, although she is still dealing with the residual symptoms of her relapses, because she hasn't relapsed at all in a while, her MS was officially classed as "benign".  That doesn't mean that it will never come back, but it does mean that the disease progression is so slow that her prognosis looks really good.  Excellent news.

W. is a little older than me; her mother had MS and when she first developed symptoms -- literally in the same week as me -- she had a pretty good idea of what she might be dealing with.  We saw the same neurologist and had MRI scans in the same week.  Where mine was pretty inconclusive, with only one clear lesion and several other "possibles", her scan showed without doubt that she had multiple lesions in her brain and was diagnosed immediately with MS.... a good 4 years before my own diagnosis.  Like C, I don't think that W. elected to go onto disease modifying drugs.  She hasn't been as lucky as C: since her diagnosis, W. has lost significant sensitivity in her hands, and when I saw her walking down the corridor today, she has clearly started to feel the effects in her legs and feet too.  She is no longer able to go for the long walks that she loves, and she is starting to shuffle noticeably.  She remains positive and chipper, but having nursed her own mother through MS, she is realistic about what may lie ahead for her, and is fearful for her own teenaged daughter.

Three different people; all working in the same department in the same building; all diagnosed with MS at about the same time; three (so far) distinctly different outcomes.  MS really is a disease with a thousand faces and is much, much more common than you might think.  No one is the same and our future's are not written in stone.  Much the same is true for everyone, I suppose.


It was pointed out to me today that the MS Society conduct or fund medical research using animals.  I am, of course, running the Robin Hood Half Marathon to raise money for the MS Society (sponsor us here!).  I love animals, but as I inject a drug each week that is ultimately made from the ovaries of genetically engineered hamsters from China, I'm not sure I'm in any position to start questioning the use of animals in medical research.... I'm not saying that the end always justifies the means or that human life is always worth more than animal life or that animal suffering is a price worth paying to alleviate human suffering, but I do know that this is not a simple, black and white issue.  Clearly I respect the right of anyone to object to animal testing.  As long as they're not objecting using violence, obviously....

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