Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - North Mississippi - 13
Even after her diagnosis at age 38, Holt
was still trying to outrun the disease.
She didn't have time for a chronic illness,
she thought. She hoped her kids wouldn't
notice the changes in their mom.
But things had to adjust for the
whole family, Holt soon found. She
had to stop working, she walks with
the help of a cane or a walker, and her
hearing is diminishing. Because MS
always changes, sometimes she has to
crawl out of bed and sometimes she
can stand without issue in the morning.
She's learned that "just because you're
in a bad stage or funk right now, doesn't
mean that it's forever," she says.
Families are on the front lines of MS, and
spouses and children have to make big
adjustments, just like the person diagnosed. Kalb compares it to a stranger
showing up in your home, spreading his
stuff everywhere and never leaving.
"When one person is diagnosed with
MS, the whole family is," Kalb says.
"Everyone is living with this disease."
In her book, The Girl with the Lower
Back Tattoo, Schumer writes about her
father still trying to be a dad through his
MS symptoms. He once drove her to the
airport but couldn't pull her suitcase out
of the trunk.
"This must have looked strange to
other people, seeing this strapping man
watch his 18-year-old daughter lift and
tote her giant suitcase all by herself,
but they didn't know he was sick," she
writes. "I didn't really understand the
symptoms of the disease, but I did know
that it slowed him down, that even if he
looked normal he could still be in a lot
of pain, unable to do the small physical
acts he used to do with ease."
Her dad walked her into the airport,
where he had a bowel accident, she writes.
He had to switch into a pair of her shorts,
but he still wanted to walk her to the gate
as he had promised. He pushed through,
not wanting her to see him break down.
THE CHALLENGE OF
Caregiving can be tricky, as Schumer
showed in her 2015 movie Trainwreck. In
it, Colin Quinn plays her acerbic dad who
has MS, uses a wheelchair and recently
had to be moved into an assisted living
facility-just like Schumer's real-life dad.
THE MANY SYMPTOMS OF MS
Someone suffering from multiple sclerosis
could have a variety of symptoms that
manifest for a day or for years. Here are
some of the more common ones.
3 Fatigue. About 80 percent of people with
MS experience some variation of tiredness.
3 Numbness and tingling. This is often
the first symptom someone experiences
before being diagnosed with MS.
3 Spasticity. This includes stiffness
and involuntary muscle spasms, most
commonly in the legs.
3 Weakness. This results from the deconditioning of unused muscles or damage to
nerves that stimulate muscles.
One scene shows Schumer's dad
struggling and failing to zip up his
sweatshirt. Schumer's character finally
just says, "Can I do this, please?"
That's a common interaction in MS
households across the country, Kalb
says. Kids, partners and families need
to figure out when to help and when
to step back in the midst of an everchanging disease.
"No matter how much you love
someone, you can't read their mind. Is
this a day they want help or a day that
they're going to bite my head off and
say, 'Leave me alone'?" Kalb says.
Schumer said her dad's disease has
given her a perspective that helps her
laugh more, and make other people
"I seek laughter all the time," she
told CBS Sunday Morning. "I think that's
something that also comes with having
a sick parent is you don't know what's
going to happen, and so I'll be like, 'I'm
psyched my legs still work.' And I want
to experience all I can and make as
many memories as I can." ■
3 Vision problems.
3 Walking difficulties.
3 Dizziness and vertigo. Patients
might feel off-balance or lightheaded,
or feel a spinning sensation.
3 Bladder and bowel problems. This is
a common symptom that can be managed
through dietary and fluid management,
medications and catheterization.
3 Sexual problems. This can be caused
by damage in the central nervous system,
fatigue, spasticity and psychological factors.
3 Pain. One study showed that more
than half of MS patients had "clinically
Caregiving can be stressful. Check
out the North Mississippi Medical
Center Behavioral Health Center
3 Cognitive changes. About 50 percent
of people with MS have issues with
the ability to learn and remember information, organize and problem-solve,
focus attention and accurately perceive
3 Emotional changes and depression.
One of the most common symptoms,
clinical depression is more prevalent within
the MS population than it is in the public.
SUMME R 2017