MS sufferer on fire for the cause

(Editor’s note: The following was submitted as a letter to the editor and has been moved to the Health page as notice of MS Awareness Week coming in the middle of March. It is written by an MS sufferer.)

I live in Zimmerman, Minn. and I am one of millions of people who have joined the movement to end multiple sclerosis, and I’m writing you to ask for your help in changing the lives people living with MS in this community and across the country by publishing the following letter.

Every hour someone is diagnosed with MS, a chronic disease of the central nervous system for which there is no cure. Multiple sclerosis interrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body and stops people from moving. Many have trouble imagining what their lives would be without the ability to move, but I know the effects of MS personally.

My symptoms began in December 2008 with my face itching uncontrollably. I ruled out allergies to the products I was using on my face as well as food allergies and just began to live with this itching. In January 2009 I was driving home from work when suddenly I got an extreme headache. It felt like someone was stabbing me on my left temple. I began to cry and had to pull over because I couldn’t stand the pain.

I sat on the shoulder rocking back and forth and rubbing the left side of my head to try and get it to go away. I called my husband who was leaving work at that time so he pulled up right behind me on the freeway. We sat there for a little while and the pain subsided enough that I was able to drive the rest of the way home with him behind me to make sure I was OK.

The next day the left side of my face was numb. I called my doctor and she suggested that I go into the emergency room. After several tests that evening the ER doctor was thinking I had multiple sclerosis, but he could not make an official diagnosis.

He referred me to a neurologist at that point. Several doctor visits later along with lots of pokes, prods and tests, it was finally confirmed that I have MS in February, 2009. I was told things would never be the same for me and I was going to have to find a way to live with this disease. What!  Me? Why?

I was told that research has come a long way over the years and that people are able to live full lives as long as they take care of themselves. I made the decision right away to go on a preventative medication, copaxone. I was very nervous to start this treatment because the only way you can take it is to inject it into your body every day. All I thought about was I have a husband and at the time we just had my son, and I was going to do this to keep myself healthy. I did go off of the treatment for about one year so we were able to have our daughter, but I have since gone back on the treatment.

Overall, MS had not had that big of an effect on my body. I forget, itch, go numb, drop things, stumble and get dizzy, but that is few and far between. I have triggers that bring these attacks on so I have learned to avoid those things.

MS Awareness Week takes place March 14–20. I encourage people to join the movement to end MS and help people with MS move their lives forward.

It’s easy to get involved. It only takes a few minutes to make a difference in the lives of the millions of people worldwide who live with this disease.

I decided to walk for MS in 2011 and created “Susie’s Stars.” Our team last year had 18 people walk and we raised $1,296.50 for MS research. This year our goal is 25 walkers and to raise $2,000!

Help me celebrate hope for the future and move toward a world free of MS by walking with “Susie’s Stars” or supporting my fund-raising efforts. Your tax-deductible gift helps fund cutting-edge research, and programs and services for people affected by MS.

Some simple things you can do:

•Visit nationalMS to learn more about MS.

•Tell 10 people that MS Awareness Week is March 14–20 and ask them to tell 10 people they know.

•Wear orange to show your support on Friday, March 16.

•Sponsor a walker in the 2012 Walk MS under my team, “Susie’s Stars.”

•Most importantly… Join us on Saturday, March 17 from noon to 3 p.m. at Zimmerman Home and Garden Center, 13375 First Ave. S, Zimmerman, for our open house to support “Susie’s Stars.”

We will have a representative there from all your favorite home parties in a one-stop-shopping location; i.e. Scentsy, 31, Tastefully Simple, Tupperware and Pampered Chef, just to name a few. Refreshments will be served.

Progress on MS can’t wait. Move It during MS Awareness Week and move us closer to a world free of MS. —  Susie Deisch, Zimmerman