Due to several e-mails I have had from friends and family members having questions about Multiple Sclerosis I guess I will try and answer them all here. I didn’t think there would be so many questions (nosy people). ;o)
For information about MS go to this Multiple Sclerosis site.
MS does not run in families. Peter has been experiencing numbness in his face, shoulders and his left hand. His MRI’s indicate an abnormal brain (areas of myelin in the brain that are getting eaten away) – but the myelin spots that show up have not been getting bigger like in most MS cases. This has been going on for 18 months now. He has had at least two separate and distinct episodes of the numbness which used to be all they needed to diagnose MS. It can sometimes take a few years to diagnose (most people are diagnosed between 25 and 40 years old). He has had MRI’s nearly every three months plus a couple of other really fun tests.
The reason the doc ordered the spinal tap is because he was confused because Peter’s myelin spots in the brain have not been enlarging and the doctor wondered if it might be something else, but then Peter was experiencing numbness again. If the test is positive then he will be diagnosed with MS and begin medication immediately. If the test is negative then it could still be MS and it might not be. Some MS patients do not have this indicator show up in their spinal fluid. Twenty years ago, before some of the tests now available, he probably would have already been diagnosed with MS. There are a few other things that can mimic MS but it could still be a while before we know anything for certain.
His doctor says if Peter has MS then he will have a very good prognosis – those who start by having complete weakness in their limbs and have an inability to use their hands usually have a more difficult time with it and generally decline faster. Most people with MS live average life spans.
We are both OK with it if he does have it; the shock is quite over. Right now we are just struggling with the waiting game – uncertainty seems more frustrating than a positive diagnosis. It should not cause him to be unable to work (heaven forbid that I should have to be the family bread winner…)
If it does come back positive then he will meet with a medical board for the Air Force to discuss if he will stay in or if he will be medically retired. There are people in the Air Force who have MS and where Peter does not have a war time job our option would most likely be to stay in. Of course the medical board has the final say. If he is medically retired his MS would be taken care of through the VA (there is a slightly higher percentage of MS among military folks than in the general population so they have decided that this is something the VA will cover).
This could rock the boat – there is a chance that he might not be in the Air Force any more and we would be looking for a new place to live and a new job (but mom, don’t even think for a second that we would end up in Utah – that would be highly unlikely). With a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and a top secret security clearance and lots of contacts in the defense contract underworld (and a reputation of being competent) he would not have difficulty finding a job.
There, I hope that answers every ones questions… �
Oh, and I don’t think I will be able to get Annette Funicello’s, Alan Osmond’s or Ann Romney’s autographs for you…