Monthly Online Magazine
by and for those with MS,
Tables of Contents
Introduction from Mummsy (Elsa): This is an article written by my 15 yr. old grandson. It was a class project where he had to interview me and then write the article. He got an A for his grade. This was his own perspective after he interviewed me.
Multiple Sclerosis: Elsa’s Story
21 November 2003
Diseases are one of the scariest things a person can get during their lifetime; Multiple Sclerosis is one of these many diseases. Unfortunately my grandmother has been battling this disease for twenty-three years. Elsa Kuhlenburg, is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. She caught M.S. at the older age of 45. Elsa is one of the luckier victims to have caught M.S. at a later stage in her life, some are not so lucky and the disease takes their life. Acknowledging that other people are also suffering from this disease, she participates in many support groups to help people like her cope with M.S. and make them smile again. My grandma brings the life back into others with M.S., getting the same support back from them.
Probably the worst day in the history of Elsa’s disease was the very first day. Elsa visited the doctor because she was experiencing days of extreme fatigue and loss of vision in one eye. The first time Elsa heard her doctor say the words, "Multiple Sclerosis," a chill went down her spine. She was fearful and uncertain, but also determined to find the resources she needed to continue to live a full and productive life with M.S. "The cause for M.S. still remains unknown, but professionals have discovered that it affects the Central Nervous System, which controls the various parts of your body," Elsa explained. I was relieved to find out that this scary disease was not hereditary but it is believed that a combination of genes has something to do with whether or not you are a victim. The disease is very mysterious and therefore fairly hard to diagnose because the symptoms are so hard to identify. Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis include numbness, tingling, vision loss, and memory loss. Since Elsa caught the disease when it was only beginning to be known, doctors used the only diagnosis test available back then. Since M.S. is a disease affecting the spine, the doctors extracted fluids from the spinal cord and then sent it off to the labs to be tested. Elsa was lucky that she caught M.S. during the later portion of her life because people around the age of 19 usually suffer from extreme depression. "I was lucky to catch the disease later on in my life, I had a chance to raise my family first before being affected."
Elsa stated that coping with Multiple Sclerosis is one of the hardest things a person can encounter. Throughout the years Elsa has had the disease; it has been very hard to live a normal life. As my grandma got older the disease began effecting her ability to walk. When Elsa first was diagnosed with M.S. there was no way to overcome the disease. Today, there are new treatments, such as the ABC drugs, which are injections that prevent future attacks. My grandma found online support groups such as Judy’s Joint where others with M.S. email each other with messages of hope.
After learning coping skills for Multiple Sclerosis, Elsa went on to start a support group at her church for others. She was also appointed to "The Board of Trustees for Multiple Sclerosis Society" and continued on the board for ten years. "Being with people that have the same disease and by sharing stories, you realize you can live it," Elsa said. Being one of the oldest ones with Multiple Sclerosis everywhere she went, Elsa decided to be a coordinator of several M.S. society offices. Elsa gives advice to many people with Multiple Sclerosis and is a continual inspiration to many. During her support group sessions Elsa tells victims of M.S. to have an active mind and concentrate on things that a person can do, and not on the things that they can not do. Elsa tells the victims that no two people that have Multiple Sclerosis have the same symptoms. "If anyone is to end up with Multiple Sclerosis, learn all you can about it, the more that you know, the easier it is to adjust to the disease. However, you have to realize that because what you read is a general description, just because something happens to one person, it doesn’t mean it is going to happen to you," Elsa states as she gives advice. Multiple Sclerosis works in many mysterious ways, and being a part of support groups and realizing certain factors will help you get through the disease a lot smoother.
Diseases are one of the most frightening things a person can get during their lifetime; Multiple Sclerosis is one of these many diseases. My grandma showed true heroism letting others into her life and creating an encouraging bond between herself and others. People bonding together are stronger than one alone. Coping with the disease is one of the most difficult tasks in having Multiple Sclerosis. Learn everything possible to know about M.S. and get involved with others to show there is still hope ahead.
Reach Jason through Elsa to comment: EKRKPK@aol.com