MS patient fights her way through illness - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

MS patient fights her way through illness

(Source: Raycom Media) (Source: Raycom Media)

Multiple Sclerosis, or M-S, is a potentially disabling disease where the body's immune system attacks the protective sheath covering nerve fibers, leading to communication problems between the brain and the body.

Susan McNutt was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1992. Until then, she says she lived a normal life without a lot of health concerns - and there is no family history of the disease.

"The only problems I had were... my feet were numb, and it started coming up to my knees.  And I had been to several doctors.  And they all told me I needed to go see a shrink, that it was all female... you know, mental problems," said McNutt.

She says she sees Cullman neurologist Christopher LaGanke. He has prescribed one medication.

"It's a once-a-month injection. I go to North Central Neurology and it takes an hour," she said.

Signs and symptoms of M-S vary with the individual. Some people with severe M-S may lose the ability to walk independently or at all, while others may experience long periods of remission without new symptoms.

"It's taken away my memory. It's taken a lot of that away.  And I have cognitive issues.  And sometimes I get up and my balance doesn't work or I can't walk. I have a scooter in there that I have to use sometimes," said McNutt.

She says there are also speech problems. Her speech can slur, giving others the impression of drunkenness.

Most people with M-S are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease.

McNutt says she voluntarily gave up her car keys, and her life has changed dramatically.

"Before I got sick, I worked 70 hours a week, no problem. Cooked supper, cooked breakfast, got my daughter out of school," she said. "I worked 12 hours, go home, cook supper, do laundry, take care of the dogs. I bowled in a league.  I did everything.  And now I have the energy to do nothing.

"M-S has changed my whole life," she continued. "But my philosophy is, 'Don't give in. Don't give up.'"

While there's no cure for multiple sclerosis, treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.

McNutt is also establishing a support group in Hartselle.

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