Monthly Archives: August 2014

MS and Vitamin D Revisited

100_0444      Lately I’ve read a virtual ton of reports and studies about Vitamin D and its possible cause and effects when it comes to Multiple Sclerosis. I think it’s great that science seems to be homing in on Vitamin D deficiency as being at least one of the likely players in this complex disease. I’m also glad to see that many Neurologists are now advising their patients to start taking a Vitamin D3 supplement as a possible way to slow down the progression of MS and Alzheimer’s as well. I do take it, and I honestly feel, that it helps.

     However, when I start seeing advertisements for very expensive UV lighting apparatus marketed to people who have been diagnosed with MS to help them boost their skin’s ability to develop more of this vital vitamin on their own, then I start to have a problem. The first one should be obvious to almost everyone, in that, UV lighting can be a very dangerous way of trying to enhance your skins ability to produce more vitamin D when the increased prevalence of developing skin cancer is factored in. And second, I am not at all sure that more Sun light from either the Sun or artificial UV lighting is where the true problem exists.

     Why? Because as a kid I spent seemingly all day every day outside whenever I could all year long, which makes me think that the problem may lye more in the skins ability to convert sunlight into Vitamin D then the actual amount of Sunlight that a person receives over any given period of time. It’s already a fairly well established fact that people with darker skin pigment are far less likely to develop MS in the first place then individuals, like my self, who have much fairer skin tone to begin with. My opinion is that it is far more likely that a genetic defect in the skin itself is mostly to blame for my skin’s inability to produce this vitamin on its own.

     And I just don’t think that using artificial light in this way is a beneficial addition to people like me. And in fact, it may be far more dangerous in the end then just adding a Vitamin D3 supplement to your diet. But that is a risk that each one of us must first weigh and ultimately decide on our own!

 

By

Bill Walker

 

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MS Depression Robin William’s Tribute

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Robin William’s winning Academy Award

     What an incredibly sad tragedy it was to lose one of America’s funniest and all time greatest comic geniuses Robin William’s to suicide brought on by a debilitating case of depression. If one good thing could come out of this horrible event it would be a moment of awakening of America’s collective compassion, as well as acceptance, of the serious nature our mental health problems really are in this country. We can no longer ignore and try and bury this growing issue in the deepest recesses of our health care system as if it doesn’t pertain to every single individual nationwide, or even worldwide, for that matter. It is past time that we finally relegate mental health with equal concern to all other considerations in our health care system.

     As a person who suffers from MS I know this all to well as I have spent many of my working years in the mental health field as both a group home counselor and as a unit coordinator in a mental health treatment facility. But there is even a bigger reason for my concern and interest in the field of mental health. As a child, I was also diagnosed with mild to moderate depression. And in a strange way my, on again off again, depressive state is much like the multiple sclerosis I was diagnosed with sixteen years ago in that it can be triggered into an active dark state of being only to recede just as quickly back to a place of relative remission. And also just like MS, depression is a silent and invisible intruder, that stalks its prey with little if any noticeable changes to anyone outside of the person who is experiencing its extreme emotional and physical wrath.

    In my case, I have been extremely fortunate to never have been so consumed by my inner demons as to consider suicide a viable alternative, but that doesn’t mean that from time to time I must find the inner strength to face these forces of emotional mental destruction head on. And my deepest battle with these personal enemies came simultaneously, which one would expect I think, with my diagnoses of multiple sclerosis. It rocked my mental world in the worst kind of way right to its core. At that time I couldn’t think of anything any worse that could have ever happened to me. Which of course, isn’t true. But it did take me two plus years of being on the antidepressant Zoloft along with strong family and friend support before again the Sun finally rose in my world.

     I am very happy to report now that I have been reasonably safe and sane for going on nearly ten years, but I am always aware that it takes vigilance and a positive outlook on all aspects of my life to remain ahead of the many pitfalls that can occur without warning to stay one step ahead of depression. And one of the biggest things that I have come to realize in my fifty seven years of life is that we all, without exception, can fall victim to our own mental instabilities and emotional environmental trauma’s. And just like the flu, anyone at anytime can have a mental health crises. And it’s nothing to ever be ashamed of because it’s just one more of our shared human frailties!

      RIP Robin, we’ll miss the laughter that you brought into all of our lives!

 

By Bill Walker  

 

MS and Eye Flashing Shadow Snake

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Eye of the Shadow Snake!

     One morning about three weeks ago I wasn’t terribly surprised when I woke up to the flashing strobe light sensation that often accompanies one of my MS attacks when I first got out of bed. I had known for a couple of months that I was experiencing my somewhat annual flare up so it didn’t strike me as being any big deal as that is normal for me. The only thing that was different on this occasion was that the flashing seemed confined to just my right eye when usually it’s in both eyes. However, I have become used to the fact that my attacks are never exactly the same from year to year so I paid very little attention to that fact.

     It wasn’t until the next night when I was driving to a local baseball game that the real strangeness taking place in my right eye was to get my total undivided attention. As I was driving the flashing started to give way to this grid of dark spots that covered part of my vision which was bizarre, in that, I have never had that as one my symptoms during an MS episode before. I felt like if I had a pencil I could have easily played that kids game of connect the dots and that’s exactly what this grid looked like as I gazed threw it and onto the rest of the world which is also a bit distracting when your watching cars coming at you at fifty to sixty miles an hour. But the strangest and literally the scariest symptom was, as yet, to come.

     Upon reaching the game what I can only describe as a snake or worm like dark shadow began making figure eights throughout my line of vision, but again, just in my right eye, which at the time, I was thankful for because one of my biggest fears about MS is eventually going blind. The thought of losing my eyesight, to say the least, terrifies me when ever I have MS related eye problems. The worm continued its seemingly prearranged journey through most of the rest of the baseball game until about the eighth inning when it began to fade into the twilight of the oncoming darkness beyond the lights of the stadium. And thankfully it was completely gone by the time I started the long drive back home, but most certainly, not forgotten.

     It just so happened that I had a doctors appointment with my regular family doctor the next day and after describing my previous day’s experience my doctor scheduled an emergency appointment with my Optometrist the very next day after that. When I woke up that next morning, and as I prepared to leave for my appointment, I was greeted by what seemed like a hundred floaters moving around my field of vision in my right eye, which was kind of like watching a meteor shower in my head.

     Fortunately, it did not take long for my Optometrist to figure out what was happening, and what was happening had absolutely nothing to do with Multiple Sclerosis at all. He explained that as we get older there are tiny fibers in our eyes that attach the gel like substance inside of the eye to the Retina and sometimes these fibers break causing all of the symptoms that I had previously described. He referred to it as a Vitreous Detachment which I quite honestly had never heard of before. He went on to explain that this can only happen one time in each eye and that people who had this happen in one eye were far more susceptible to having this happen again in the other eye at some later date.

     As my fear of losing my sight began to abate he told me that it would probably be about thirty days for the floaters to finally disappear altogether, which seems to be just about right as it’s been about that long, and I’m not noticing to many of these any more. And let me add this, this was not a great experience to have, and I’m certainly not looking forward to going through this again if it does happen, but at least I’ll now what’s happening the next time, the terrifying shadow snake comes to call!

By: Bill Walker

MS Obamacare: My Story

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Foothills Of Washington State

 

     For many people The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known As Obamacare, has been nothing more then big government attempting to take control of their lives, for myself on the other hand, it’s been nothing less then a Godsend.

     After losing my job in 2010 to the recession, I discovered that the job market was not going to be kind for someone with my limitations due to a Multiple Sclerosis disability. As the weeks, months, and eventually years wore on the task of finding new employment drained me to the point of depression and despair. Of course, along with losing my job, I also lost my healthcare plan which only added to my frustration and deepening depression.

     As my blood pressure began to spike, my prescription to control it ran out, I was left with only one other option for my future care and my sanity. With my stress levels careening out of control I had no other option but to apply for Social Security Disability. However, much to my surprise, even after being found legally disabled I also found out that does not automatically mean that you have health care coverage.

     I was amazed to find that I had somehow fallen into a black hole where I made to much money from disability to qualify for Medicaid coverage but not enough to be able to afford any other health care coverage.

     All of that changed in January of 2014 when The Affordable Care Act was fully implemented. The new rules did make me eligible for Medicaid. I was finally able to afford to see a Doctor and get my blood pressure medication restarted along with having an operation for a Hernia that had been painfully getting worse for months on end.

    Obamacare worked for me, please give it a chance!