With the recent passing of Clive Burr, I thought it would be a good opportunity to shed a little light on the disease he lived with for the past 25 years, Multiple Sclerosis. I could have researched an article and presented you with a bunch of facts and figures, but I thought it would be better to go direct to the source and get some words from a friend who has herself been diagnosed with MS.
Words: Jeff Kent
I met Tammi Fletcher over a decade ago in an online Metal chat room. Her sarcastic attitude and ‘evil’ demeanor did little to frighten me, instead it made us fast friends. Not long after I started speaking to her online I had a chance to meet her on a trip to California. I played with her two kids and we jabbed at each other in person just like we did online. She didn’t have MS then, but knowing her the way I do, MS doesn’t stand a chance against her.
Tammi is a married stay-at-home-mom with two kids, one of which just graduated high school early, and she currently lives in Northern California.
Below is the longer version of her statement. The first one read simply, “MS sucks ass.” Now that you know how she REALLY feels I hope you can take her words in the manner that they were intended.
“MS is an autoimmune disease which affects the central nervous system. Multiple Sclerosis stands for ‘many scars’ due to the numerous lesions on the brain and/or spinal cord where myelin has been stripped from the spinal cord. There is no cure. There are many different medications which attempt to return function after an attack, prevent new attacks and prevent disability.
“It is imperative to get on an MS approved medication as soon as you are diagnosed. MS affects more women than men but men almost always get it worse. Living with MS is a day to day struggle. Some days you may be full of energy and the very next day, you may not even be able to get out of bed. Some symptoms of MS include; changes in sensation, numbness, tingling, weakness, loss of coordination, problems with speech or swallowing, visual problems, chronic pain, cognitive problems, emotional symptoms, etc.
“Any of these symptoms can come and go at any time throughout the day with no warning. Planning a trip is almost impossible because you need to have a plan B for the ‘just in case’ times. MS is not hereditary. They do not know what causes it, environment could be a factor. Stress makes MS worse and could bring on an ‘exacerbation’ or relapse.
“During these exacerbations, high doses of steroids are needed to stop the attack. Sometimes it doesn’t work and the person ends up with a new disability. Living with MS, for me, is scary. Never knowing what the morning is going to bring is very disconcerting. Will I be able to get out of bed? Will I still have feeling in my arms?
“Overwhelming feelings of sadness, anger, excitement at any time, for no reason. MS does not care where you are, what you’re doing or who you are with, it will attack when it wants to. People with MS ‘look well’ on the outside, but it is what is happening to us on the inside that society needs to understand.”
For more information on MS and what you might be able to do, please visit the National MS Society http://www.nationalmssociety.org.