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Multiple Sclerosis: Understanding and Communication Important



The National Institutes of Health defines multiple sclerosis (MS) as "an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. It can range from relatively benign to somewhat disability to devastating, as communication between the brain and other parts of the body is disrupted." Most people with MS have muscle weakness in their extremities, and balance and coordination difficulties. Half of all people affected ultimately have cognitive impairments.

In 2011, Jeff Gallatin, began the process of grieving after the passing of his 72-year-old mother Carol, who had chronic progressive multiple sclerosis. Carol had been a choir director, a hospice "clown" for children, a storytelling guild president, a Northwestern University marketing graduate, and the community affairs director for a division of Rockwell International in Cleveland.

"It's still an emotional subject for me," said Gallatin, an Ohio newspaper associate editor, of discussing his mother's death. "My mom had polio as a kid, but had always been able to overcome (her physical difficulties). In the mid- to late- '90s, little physical challenges began cropping up with her. She went from using a cane to a walker to a manual wheelchair. In 2001, I moved in with her."

Doctors apparently had trouble diagnosing her, maybe because MS usually first affects people between the ages of 20-40. One day about two months after Jeff moved in, Carol couldn't get out of her rocking chair, which moved a friend to suggest more tests that finally yielded a diagnosis.

"Then they said my mother would never get out of the nursing home (because of MS)," said Gallatin. "But they didn't know my mother." After 18 months there, Carol moved back in with Jeff until her passing in 2011. At the end, she had paralyzed legs.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of being his mother's caregiver ten years was in having to watch her use a wheelchair. She had been such a proud, professional woman, who had raised two children on her own as a divorcee.

As for advice to other caregivers of parents, he said, "Be sure to talk and communicate with (the parent). For example, our Saturday morning was sacred to us. We'd talk and catch up. She was a wonderful sounding board."

Gallatin said he wasn't a perfect caregiver. What helped him a lot was having good bosses, who allowed him to occasionally leave work to help out his mother.

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Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.

Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com




Placer County News Headlines

Jazz Sampler Concert Sunday in RocklinRocklin, CA -The Sierra College Music Department is proud to present a Sampler Concert on Sunday, September 25th

WJU Opens New Science LabROCKLIN, Calif. - William Jessup University recently announced the opening of its new Gandy Chemistry Lab to students this semester, thus paving the way

Sacramento Capital Cup Fundraising Shatters $500,000 Goal Roseville, Calif. - Organizers of the Sacramento Capital Cup announced that they have surpassed their $500,000 fundraising goal

Lincoln Showcase Tonight at Beermann PlazaLincoln, CA- Lincoln Showcase returns to Beermann Plaza tonight with local food, wine and craft beer and live music.

Weekend Starts Here: Autumn Kicks Off with Fun EventsRoseville, CA- The first weekend of autumn will see a return of warmer weather along with a fun assortment of local events in the Roseville and Rocklin area

Video: Roseville State of the City AddressRoseville, CA- Roseville Mayor Carol Garcia kicks off the 2016 State of the City address highlighting the city of Roseville's strengths.

Oktoberfest at The Village at Squaw Valley September 24thSquaw Valley kicks off fall with the return of Oktoberfest, featuring authentic German craft beer, food, music and Bavarian-themed competitions.

Paid Placer County Poll Workers NeededAUBURN, Calif. -- Can't get enough of this year's election? The best seats in the house on Election Day are still available - and we'll pay you to take them.

Free Design & Engineering Advice in Rocklin and SacramentoRocklin, -- In celebration of National Manufacturing Day, on October 7, 2016, Sierra College, SME Sacramento Valley and Hacker Lab

Trash Talk Community Meeting in Roseville October 4thRoseville, CA - The Western Placer Waste Management Authority will host its sixth annual community meeting Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m. to discuss odors and other operational issues

Mazda CX-9 a major hit with redesignRoseville, CA- The V6 engine is gone and the horsepower has been reduced, which leaves one wondering just what the heck Mazda was thinking when it put together the redesigned CX-9

Free Health & Wellness Fair September 23 in RocklinRocklin, CA -- Did you know that right here in Placer County there are a wide range of Health and Wellness services designed just for seniors and their caregivers?


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