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Tykia Murray: Understanding Multiple Sclerosis from a Medical Perspective and a Daughter's Perspective, Part 2

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While visiting my mother on Christmas, she informed me she was no longer taking medicine for her Multiple Sclerosis. She cited the pain of the daily injection of Copaxone as her reason for discontinuing its use. As upset as I was with her for not taking medicine that WILL help her, I didn’t argue the point with her. I gently urged her to take the medicine and I didn’t bring the subject up for the rest of the visit. She has to be the one who decides she wants to be better.

So it goes with Multiple Sclerosis: It can be debilitating, but it is by no means a death sentence. If you are living with MS, there are many treatment options. The FDA has approved several drugs that help with the relapsing forms of the disease. In addition to these, doctors often prescribe antidepressants such as Prozac to combat the blues that may come with MS. And you don’t have to be limited to what the big drug companies offer. Well-known alternative treatments such as acupuncture and aromatherapy treat muscle pain and have been shown to improve mental well-being in patients. Similarly, Bee Sting Therapy has been reported to treat pain, loss of coordination, and muscle weakness, though it’s in the preliminary stages study.

Aside from what your doctor may prescribe, there are simple things you can do yourself such as exercising and eating a diet rich in antioxidants and beta-carotene. Exercise builds muscle and enhances mood and self-esteem, which in combination with a healthy balanced diet can greatly reduce the symptoms of MS.

For anyone who is reading this and struggling with the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, I urge you to fight back. Know that there is nothing that can stop you from living life except you.

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Hi Tykia... I can tell from your writing how deeply your mother's illness hurts your heart. What a lucky mother she is to have a daughter so deeply caring. I urge you to continue to be gentle with her on taking the medication. Currently, the only medically "approved" protocols for the treatment of MS are injection based. As someone who has given herself a shot every day for the past 10 years, I can tell you that it is a very, very difficult path. For many people, the injections, coupled with the side effects are often more than they can deal with on top of the illness.

Also, please know that there is absolutely no guarantee on any of the currently approved MS treatments that the patient will get better or that the progression of the disease will even slow. They are certainly designed to help and for many of us they do. But, you need to know that not everyone responds to the MS drugs. By way of example, I had another family member diagnosed with MS last July. Because I have done so beautifully on Copaxone, they chose (and their doctor recommened it as well) this as their treatment. Unfortunately, the drug did nothing for them at all and the disease continued a very rapid progression. They have since tried other MS therapies to no avail and are considering stopping all treatment because nothing has worked. In less than a year's time, they have become completely disabled despite taking medication. It's heartbreaking because they did everything "right" in pursuing treatment but there are simply no guarantees that these "will" make any of us better.

I don't know your mother's situation but you might want to make her aware that there are oral medications on the horizon for the treatment of MS. Hopefully, these will be available in early 2010. They've already been submitted for approval in Europe and should be submitted to the FDA soon on a fast-track. Hopefully, one of them will be a therapy that will be more acceptable for your mother. The results from the trials look very promising and I'm hopeful that we'll see breakthroughs in treatments soon.

Thanks so much for writing this. So much focus is often given to the person that has the disease that we often forget about the families who love them and what they must be going through. I appreciate you giving us your perspective. Best wishes to you and your family. I wish your mother health. Mary

August 3, 2009 - 10:22pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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