Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

Synopsis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a degenerative, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that affects 250,000 to 400,000 people living in the United States. It generally starts in young adulthood and the symptoms, as well as the extent of disability as a result of the disease, vary widely from person to person.

Excerpt

“MS, crippler of young adults.”

That phrase kept circling my mind during the winter break after my first semester at Harvard Medical School in December 1980. After four years of off-and-on symptoms—strange, shadowy sensations that would appear suddenly, last for a few weeks or months, and then vanish, only to recur again months later—I had finally gone to a neurologist, a doctor specializing in the nervous system (the brain, spinal cord, and nerves that control bodily functions). For those four years, I had dismissed these weird episodes, attributing the odd sensations to stress. After all, I had been taking intensive pre-med and other graduate courses, as well as working to pay for my housing and food, and I was much too busy to think about anything else. I was in my early twenties and had always been strong and healthy. The notion of having some disease never crossed my mind.

In addition, the fleeting symptoms were so strange, hard to describe and understand. Who would believe my story? During July 1978 when I was taking summer school chemistry, for example, two symptoms arrived simultaneously. While I was jogging along the Charles River, which winds between Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, I didn’t know where my legs were in space. Of course my legs were where they had always been—pumping along, carrying my body . . .

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