- HL Mencken
In the audience, were countless people with various stages of MS. Some of the people looked perfectly normal, like me. Some were on crutches, and some in wheel chairs. Most of the guests were women. We sat at round tables as we ate dinner and the plan was to listen to David while dessert was being served. I talked to some of the people at my table and was curious about their stories. I didn’t like what I heard. Nothing positive was being discussed unless you count slowing down a disease as positive. There were good days and bad days, but there was no talk of cures, just accepting the conventional view and moving on. It was the beginning of the realization that I was part of a group that is SICK.
While we ate dinner and dessert was served, David Landers gave his speech.
David tried to be funny and was at times, but, the truth is, MS is not funny. It is depressing and without a cure, the truth is, people with MS have a grim future. David explained how MS had ravaged his body and continues to do so; however, with Avonex, he has seen a slowing of the degeneration process. David explained his symptoms and how MS impaired his mobility to the point where walking was difficult. David was selling his book, “Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn't Tell Nobody.” I stood in line and he signed it for me. I got Squiggy’s autograph after all.
After the dinner, I chose to get help. I met with a neurologist and started Avonex therapy. I caved.
A layman’s explanation of what Avonex does: Simply put, Avonex is poison. You inject it in your muscle and the immune system goes after it instead of your myelin sheath. Avonex interferes with the immune system and therefore it is called an interferon. After taking the injection, I had flu-like symptoms, the shakes, body aches, and/or fatigue.
There are primarily four different flavors of MS that are known to the medical community. The different types of Multiple Sclerosis are Relapsing Remitting, Secondary Progressive, Primary Progressive, and Progressive Relapsing.
Relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis or RRMS is the most common form of the disease. It happens to be the type of MS with which I have been diagnosed. Basically it means that I will have a flare up (exacerbation) followed by a remission. In remission I am symptom-free and back to “normal”. Although remission doesn’t always mean 100% recovery, there could be residual damage. The problem is that these relapses are very unpredictable and vary in duration. In a relapse, the disease is very active where the nerves in the brain and spinal cord are being severely damaged.
No more denial. I was sick. God help me, I have MS!