Logo of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Greater New England This month I am pleased to introduce our guest blogger, Dawn Russo, Senior Program Manager of the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society. Dawn will provide a better understanding of MS and the vast array of services available.

Dawn Russo
Dawn Russo

There are approximately 400,000 people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the United States and most of us know someone who has been diagnosed. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms may be mild such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. From the list of possible symptoms to its impact on a family, MS is not a simple disease.

Let’s follow Jane as she is diagnosed with MS

Jane is 32 years old. For the past week, she has experienced double vision. When her neurologist completed a full medical history, Jane remembered several years earlier that her hand had felt numb for a week. Numerous tests were given over a period of several months including an MRI that showed two lesions on her brain; a diagnosis of MS was made.

Jane was overwhelmed by the news and afraid for her future. Would she be able to continue working? Have children? It seemed like she had to learn a new language to understand all the terms she was hearing.

Jane searches for information and support

Jane contacted the Information Resource Center (IRC) at the National MS Society, Greater New England Chapter. She was unsure what to ask but the Information Specialist started at the beginning. Jane was sent basic information about MS and received a weekly packet through the Knowledge is Power Program. She joined a teleconference for people who are newly diagnosed and learned about symptom management and disclosing her MS.

Over the next few years, Jane stayed informed by reading the Chapter newsletter, attending workshops, and calling the Chapter with questions. She joined a support group and the Chapter helped her find a yoga instructor familiar with MS.

Living with MS

Jane continues to have periodic exacerbations or flare-ups, during which time she experiences a worsening of her symptoms. When this happens, Jane takes time off from work and is treated with steroids. But even with these setbacks, Jane has learned she can still work and have children.

Join us next week as we learn how Jane is doing 10 years later and how the National MS Society supports people living with MS to lead full and enriching lives.

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