Imagine waking up numb. So numb, in fact, that movement is either impossible or takes all your energy. If you are able to get out of bed, fatigue plagues every moment of the day, and the tingling in arms and legs does not subside.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease which attacks the central nervous system. Those diagnosed with it can be rendered wheelchair bound. It is silent, and affects no two people quite the same way.
Erica Garrett, 40-year-old Mesquite resident, supervisor of the Virgin Valley Home Care and Hospice, and a mother of four children — Morgan, 17; Madison, 11; Beau, 4; and Kole, 2 — was diagnosed with the disease in July of 2010.
“I had cut my finger on a glass,” said Erica. “And three weeks later I noticed that the tip of my finger was going numb. I thought that it was really odd, and — at first — thought I had hit a nerve; then the three (fingers) on this side went numb. I knew something was wrong.”
Tests proved that no nerve was affected. Further tests revealed no indication of a pinched nerve in Erica’s spine as well.
“My husband is a physical therapist and I am a nurse, so we were talking,” she said. “We began to think it was a brain tumor.”
Eric Garrett’s brother, a doctor, had mentioned the possibility of MS, but Erica did not consider it an option.
Three hours after her MRI, Erica and Eric were told that she had MS.
Another resident of Mesquite, Martin Barra, was diagnosed with MS in September of 2010, but his prognosis of life is much worse than that of Erica.
He also has ALS, which is known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“I was the sole breadwinner,” he said. “I had two jobs, insurance. We were living well. Now I am on Social Security and food stamps.”
Barra is 45 years old, and the father of four children.
According to www.nationalmssociety.org, about 400,000 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with MS, with about 200 new cases diagnosed each week.
MS is the result of the body’s own defenses attacking the myelin — the protective fatty covering on the nerve fibers in the central nervous system — damaging and scarring the nerves. This causes interruption in the passage of impulses to and from the brain, disrupting or distorting the communication. Little more is known of the disease, accept for the fact that most of those who get it are women between the ages of 20 to 40.