Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pop on the Rocks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pop on the Rocks

Article excerpt

Country singer Clay Walker comes to Six Flags on Saturday, touring behind his current gold record "Hypnotize the Moon." Walker has had a good deal of success in Nashville, breaking through on the charts and proving himself a likable performer in a live setting.

But Walker, 26, is currently facing the biggest challenge of his young life. In the May 4 issue of Billboard, writer Chet Flippo revealed in his "Nashville Scene" column that Walker has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, also commonly known as MS. Walker's first symptoms -- numbness in his fingers -- had taken him to a doctor. Further tests re vealed the bad news.

"I'm not as afraid as when they first told me," Walker told Flippo. "I've come to terms with it, and I'm ready to go on and deal with it."

Although not a fatal disease, MS can run the gamut from mild symptoms to depressing severity. Ac cording to Dr. John Trotter of the neurology department at the Wash ington University School of Med icine, MS may cause blindness and/ or weak ness, numbness, dizziness, blad der dysfunction, bowel dysfunction and sexual dysfunction. Many patients end up paralyzed and wheel-chair bound.

"MS is the most common non-traumatic cause of neurological disability of people in the age range 20 to 50," Trotter says. "It's a disease of the central nervous system -- the brain and the spinal chord. It manifests itself in many ways. But the disease is highly variable from person to person and there is no prognostic test. There's no way to identify who will do well or do poorly through any kind of test or examination."

Since MS plays itself out in a variety of ways in individual cases, it's impossible for patients to know how serious the disease will become over time.

"It is very difficult to live with the diagnosis, especially for the person who is first diagnosed," Trotter says. …

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