Multiple sclerosis support group begins in Frisco
FRISCO – Leslie King had experienced back pains and numbness in her limbs on and off for 15 years, but every time she went to the doctor, her problems were attributed to her fractured back. About six years ago, her chiropractor finally told King he wanted to send her to a neurologist.”All I could think of was a brain tumor. My mother had a brain tumor, and she was sent to the neurologist, so I figured I had one. I thought I’d been given a death sentence,” King said.King was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an occasionally debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system.According to Eric Anderson, of the Colorado chapter of the MS Society, MS is not a disease that can be tabulated through the Centers for Disease Control because it’s not infectious.Instead, each chapter keeps track of how many people have called to report they have MS.In Colorado, that number is nearly 7,000, at a rate of about 130 victims per 100,000 people, which is one of the higher ratios in the United States, said Anderson.MS is known to affect more women than men and is usually more prominent in people who grew up in northern states. Symptoms include numbness in limbs, paralysis and loss of vision. King said her biggest challenge has been the deterioration of her mobility, which prompted her to give up driving.”I can’t trust the feeling in my feet. The day I stopped driving I almost got into three accidents because I couldn’t move my feet fast enough to break,” King said.Because King has very few family members in the area, another obstacle has been finding a support circle. “Before this, you had to drive to Denver, but that’s not possible for me, we needed something local,” King explained. She teamed up with Candace Selk Barnes at the Timberline Adult Daycare Services to start a new self-help group for people with MS and their families.They’ve held two meetings and, so far, turnout has been less than ideal, but King said she expects attendance to pick up, hopefully after the new year and especially after Summit County’s May MS Walk.Before she was diagnosed, King said there was an MS support group in Summit County that eventually disbanded because it became too negative, something she and Candace are trying to prevent from happening again.”We’re going to set down some ground rules allowing people a couple minutes to get things off their chest. We’re also trying to instigate a phone tree so people can call someone and get personal input, but we’re still working on that. We want it to be positive,” King said. Rachel Namoff and her husband David Shapiro attended the inaugural October meeting.”I think it’s great. There’s so many people with MS in our community, and this gives them and their caregivers somewhere to talk out what they’re feeling,” said Namoff. “It’d be nice if more of the MS community was there. Obviously the point of a support group is to make you comfortable, and I’d like to see that happen.”Namoff, 28, was diagnosed with MS in July of 2003 after experiencing vision problems and ultimately losing sight in her right eye for 10 days.”I was just so stunned. I’ve always been really healthy and all of a sudden I have a life-long disease, but it’s just one of those things you accept,” said Namoff.Namoff considers herself fortunate because she has not experienced any further symptoms since her diagnosis. She is also participating in a medical study through Colorado Neurology and Headache Center, which covers all her prescription costs. Namoff said she also draws support from her neurologist in Denver, but appreciates the opportunity to relate to others in her own community.”It’s beneficial to talk about what you’re going through and for caregivers to be able to talk about their joys and frustrations,” Namoff said.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or at email@example.com.
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