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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.


LittleGiantFudge.com and Palmer Bus Service make this column possible.

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

Sampler Concert in Rocklin at Sierra CollegeThe Sierra College Music Department is proud to present a Sampler Concert on Sunday, September 28th at 3:00pm in Dietrich Theatre on the Sierra College Rocklin Campus

William Jessup University to Host Worship ConferenceROCKLIN, Calif., - William Jessup University will host the fifth annual Worship Conference on Saturday, September 27 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

New Protections for Animal Control OfficersAssemblywoman Beth Gaines (R-Roseville)announced that Governor Brown has signed her legislation (Assembly Bill 1511) to provide greater protections for animal control officers in California

California Statewide Fire Summary (9.23.14)California Fire Update: This morning over 8,100 firefighters continue to battle 5 major wildfires burning in California. Yesterday afternoon firefighters fully contained the Nelson Fire

California Fires Summary: King Fire Rages OnCalifornia Fire Update: This morning nearly 6,500 firefighters continue to battle 6 major wildfires burning in California

California Fires May Close Placer County SchoolsCalifornia Fire Update: Placer County public health officials said Monday that a smoke-related Air Quality Advisory remains in effect, emphasizing that they are working closely with school officials on whether to close schools

Gas Prices Continue Downward TrendAverage retail gasoline prices in Sacramento have fallen 2.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.66/g yesterday

California Statewide Fire Summary: King Fire 10 Percent Contained California Fire Update: Today 6,700 CAL FIRE, local and federal firefighters remain on the frontlines of 6 major wildfires across California.

Subaru BRZ: An Old-School Sports CarThe 2015 Subaru BRZ, a sports car smartly designed for driving enthusiasts who want to own a light, agile car that can provide that elusive fun factor while also looking cool.

California Statewide Fire Summary: King Fire over 80,000 Acres California Fire Update: Firefighters are concerned on the King Fire that this may shift the direction of the fire pushing it back to the South

PCWA Board Declares King Fire EmergencyCalifornia Fire Update: Auburn, CA- Critically important power generation, residential, maintenance, and storage facilities of the Placer County Water Agency

Roseville Fundraiser Raises $18,000 for Upcoming MobilePackA local effort to pack 500,000 meals for malnourished children around the world recently raised nearly $18,000 at a dinner fundraiser


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