MS Awareness Month

May 12, 2015

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

Dad, when is you birthday? Google it. I share a birthday with Queen Victoria, Bob Dylan and Tommy Chong. No, my son Eric didn't have the patience to look it up. My wife told him my birthday was May 24th. 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 the ability to say, Dave's not here, Man with authenticity and conviction. Unfortunately, I have the dour, grumpy face of Queen Victoria and the singing ability of Bob Dylan. And before you Dylan fans send me hate mail, listen to him sing, Some Enchanted Evening on the Shadows in the Night album he just released. Dylan writes wonderful music. But Dylan is a terrible singer. As for Tommy Chong, I keep screwing up the line. What is it? Something like, Hector's not here, Man?

When your body feels like its 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 cant 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 dont 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 isnt 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. Its nice to see a Parkland prodigy work on a Manitoba problem.

I'm not just an interested health care professional when it comes to MS. I'm also on the local board of the Parkland-Northman Chapter of the MS Society. Over the years I've been involved with the MS Society, we have serviced the needs of people with MS from Riding Mountain all the way up to Thompson. And of course we've helped people right here in Dauphin. That is where part of the money we raise goes. Money raised by the MS Society in Manitoba stays in Manitoba to help Manitobans with MS. The other part of our fund raising goes to research. Some of the most exciting research in Canada is here in Manitoba as well. The MESCAMS stem cell clinical research trial is happening in Winnipeg.

I mentioned May 24th is my birthday. This year it is extra special because Sunday, May 24 is the MS Walk at Clear Lake. Hector Paulhus from CKDM is participating and says if you sponsor him for the MS Walk , you could win some of his time. He calls this prize Hector Hours. That is a very cool idea Hector, but I think I can do better. Since May 24th is my birthday, if you sponsor me for the walk, I'll bake you a cake. One person drawn at random from the people who sponsor me will get a cake I baked myself. I'll present it to you at the MS Society Office in the Old Train Station. I don't care if you donate $5 or $5000, everyone's name goes in the draw. So although Hector is doing a very good thing to help end MS, help me kick his butt! Then we can all summon our inner Tommy Chong and say....Hector's not here, Man!

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 -

Bob Dylans sings Some Enchanted Evening by Rodgers and Hammerstein -

Tommy Chong (with Cheech) Dave's Not Here -


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