MS Awareness Month

May 25, 2018

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

What do Queen Victoria, Bob Dylan and The Buddha have in common? Me! We all have our birthday on May 24! I wish I could say I have some of the good qualities of my more famous birthday mates. I wish I had the leadership qualities to command an Empire, the creativity to pen hundreds of songs or wisdom to lead people to enlightenment and spiritual fulfilment. Unfortunately, I have the dour, grumpy face of Queen Victoria, the singing ability of Bob Dylan and the belly of The Buddha. And before you Dylan fans send me hate mail, I know he won a Nobel Prize for literatue. Dylan writes wonderful music. But Dylan is a terrible singer. It's like his singing ability is betraying his musical genius.

When your body feels like it's screwing up and betraying you, it could be a disease of the nervous system. The most common neurological disorder in young adults is Multiple Sclerosis. Every day, three more people in Canada are diagnosed with MS. It is estimated that more than 100,000 Canadians have Multiple Sclerosis. Women are more than three times as likely to develop MS as men. MS can cause loss of balance, impaired speech, extreme fatigue, double vision and paralysis.

May is Multiple Sclerosis awareness month. What is MS or multiple sclerosis? It is an unpredictable and often debilitating disease of the brain and spinal cord. Some of the long nerves in the brain and spinal cord have a covering called myelin. Myelin works a like the plastic covering around a telephone cord. Without the insulating plastic cover, some of the signal that goes down the telephone wire would leak out. The voice on the phone would sound delayed, weakened, garbled or possibly not there at all. In MS, the body mistakenly attacks the insulating myelin sheath around some of the nerve fibers. So the signals from the brain to the body or body back to the brain get weaker, delayed, garbled or go missing altogether.

Since MS affects some myelin covers some of the time, this leads to one of the most fascinating and frustrating facets of the disease. The symptoms of MS change and are unpredictable. The most common form of MS, relapsing and remitting MS, has well defined attacks followed by complete or partial recovery. It can go away and come back. And it can affect vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. And this is not just that the disease affects different people in different ways! The same person can have different symptoms each attack. You can imagine how frustrating it would be to both worker and employer if a worker came to work one week in a wheel chair and then the next month she could walk. Then six months later she could still walk, but says she can't read her computer screen without magnification. And then she is fine. And then a year later she calls in sick for 3 weeks because she is too fatigued to leave the house. Unfortunately, since people with MS often don't look sick and they have symptoms that come and go, some confused employers treat an employees with MS unfairly.

Compared with big diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, why should you care about MS? While it is true that MS isn't as common or as deadly as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, MS is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults in Canada. In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. Within our country, Manitoba has one of the highest rates of MS in Canada. Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie, who heads the MS Clinic in Winnipeg, published a paper about MS prevalence in Manitoba in the January 2010 issue of Neurology. She concluded Manitoba has one of the highest prevalence rates of MS in the world. So, Multiple Sclerosis does affect a lot of people in our area. There are even more local connections to MS research. Dr. Mike Namaka, who grew up in Winnipegosis, is also an MS researcher at the Manitoba MS Clinic in Winnipeg. It's nice to see a Parkland prodigy work on a Manitoba problem.

Some exciting news for the Parkland is Dr. Reza Vosoughi is coming to give a talk about MS on Thursday, May 31. It is called, "What Dr. Google Does Not Tell You About MS". It will be at 6 pm at the Countryfest Community Cinema. It is free, but please call ahead to reserve your spot. Call Larysa at our local at 1-800-268-7582 ext. 4101 or email her at This is one of those rare opportunities to meet, listen to and ask questions a neurologist who works with people with MS. And while I have a soap box, Sunday May 27 is the MS Walk in Dauphin. Go to and look for MS Walks to sign up or donate.
I mentioned May 24th is my birthday. But there are no royal weddings, or Nobel prizes in my family unlike like Queen Victoria or Bob Dylan. I think I need smaller more attainable goals. Apparently the First Noble Truth in Buddhism is "Life is Suffering". Well, I did stub my toe last week. I think it is safe to say I'm on my way to Nirvanah!
As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.

We now have most of the articles published in the Parkland Shopper on our Website

MS Society of Canada
Donate to MS Walk -


Read more Health Articles

Unite Interactive