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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

Lake Tahoe Marathon Returns September 14thArguably the most beautiful marathon in the world, the Lake Tahoe Marathon returns to Lake Tahoe on Sunday September 14, 2014. Since its inception in 1995, the Lake Tahoe Marathon has evolved into a premier running event

3 Month Old Dies in Sacramento, Parents JailedAshleigh Smith and the 19-year-old father, Terry Scott, were interviewed, they were both booked that night into the Sacramento County Jail on felony child abuse/neglect charges.

Dropping Gas Prices Lift Summer DriversLocal gas prices continue to drop and bring relief to drivers across California and the nation.

Inter-Faith Task Force Seeks New MembersThe Roseville Police Department is hosting an Inter-Faith Task Force comprised of congregational leaders and security teams for churches and other

Lake Tahoe Basin Community Plan Environmental ReviewWith the release of the Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the Environmental Impact Statement/Report, the ongoing update to the complex Tahoe Basin Community Plan continues to make progress

Preventive Autism Treatment Focus of Research AwardsResearch could affect nearly one in every four cases of autism among children in the U.S.

Simple Changes Helping California Small Businesses and EntrepreneursIt's not easy doing business in California. In order to be successful, business owners must overcome many challenges, one of which is dealing with California's complicated tax system

Hyundai scores with Santa Fe SUVsOne of Hyundai's more impressive vehicles is the 2014 Santa Fe, a sport utility vehicle that has three rows and seats seven. It replaced the 2012 Veracruz in the Hyundai lineup.

Adoption Involving Fetal Alcohol SyndromeLaura Bloch adored his picture. "My husband and I had just been approved through an adoption agency and the agency sent out a letter with a picture of a child on it,"

Placer County Wines Honored with 52 AwardsPlacer County Wine Trail wines have delighted judges' taste buds again at this year's California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition.

Border Crisis and Illegal Immigration in the United StatesCongressman McClintock recently delivered the following remarks on the House floor regarding the United States Border Crisis.

Influences of Cognitive Abilities in Old Age StudyEarly life experiences, such as childhood socioeconomic status and literacy, may have greater influence on the risk of cognitive impairment late in life than such demographic characteristics


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