Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kavitha and Chris

Just a short while ago,I met one of the most remarkable young women who calls this world home.
She was extremely confident,fearless and endearing.Meet Kavitha.
She was recommended to seek my advice on a medical issue that has been part of her life for the last 8 years.(..and yes,I have her permission to post..)She has MS.
What is MS ??
MS or Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects women more than men. The disorder is most commonly diagnosed between ages 20 and 40, but can be seen at any age.
MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. When this nerve covering is damaged, nerve impulses are slowed down or stopped.
The nerve damage is caused by inflammation. Inflammation occurs when the body's own immune cells attack the nervous system. Repeated episodes of inflammation can occur along any area of the brain, optic nerve, and spinal cord.

Researchers are not sure what triggers the inflammation. The most common theories point to a virus or genetic defect, or a combination of both. Geographic studies indicate there may be an environmental factor involved.
People with a family history of MS and those who live in a geographical area where MS is more common have a slightly higher risk of the disease.


Symptoms vary, because the location and severity of each attack can be different. Episodes can last for days, weeks, or months. These episodes alternate with periods of reduced or no symptoms (remissions).
Fever, hot baths, sun exposure, and stress can trigger or worsen attacks.
It is common for the disease to return (relapse). However, the disease may continue to get worse without periods of remission.
Because nerves in any part of the brain or spinal cord may be damaged, patients with multiple sclerosis can have symptoms in many parts of the body.

Muscle symptoms:
Loss of balance

Muscle spasms

Numbness or abnormal sensation in any area

Problems moving arms or legs

Problems walking

Problems with coordination and making small movements

Tremor in one or more arms or legs

Weakness in one or more arms or legs

Bowel and bladder symptoms:

Constipation and stool leakage

Difficulty beginning to urinate

Frequent need to urinate

Strong urge to urinate

Urine leakage (incontinence)

Eye symptoms:
Double vision

Eye discomfort

Uncontrollable rapid eye movements

Vision loss (usually affects one eye at a time)

Numbness, tingling, or pain

Facial pain

Painful muscle spasms

Tingling, crawling, or burning feeling in the arms and legs

Other brain and nerve symptoms:
Decreased attention span, poor judgment, and memory loss

Difficulty reasoning and solving problems

Depression or feelings of sadness

Dizziness and balance problems

Hearing loss

Sexual symptoms:

Problems with erections

Problems with vaginal lubrication

Speech and swallowing symptoms:

Slurred or difficult-to-understand speech

Trouble chewing and swallowing

Fatigue is a common and bothersome symptoms as MS progresses. It is often worse in the late afternoon.

Signs and tests
Symptoms of MS may mimic those of many other nervous system disorders. The disease is diagnosed by ruling out other conditions.MS is often misdiagnosed as Systemic Lupus.

People who have a form of MS called relapsing-remitting may have a history of at least two attacks, separated by a period of reduced or no symptoms.

The health care provider may suspect MS if there are decreases in the function of two different parts of the central nervous system (such as abnormal reflexes) at two different times.

A neurological exam may show reduced nerve function in one area of the body, or spread over many parts of the body. This may include:

Abnormal nerve reflexes

Decreased ability to move a part of the body

Decreased or abnormal sensation

Other loss of nervous system functions

An eye examination may show:

Abnormal pupil responses

Changes in the visual fields or eye movements

Decreased visual acuity

Problems with the inside parts of the eye

Rapid eye movements triggered when the eye moves

Tests to diagnose multiple sclerosis include:

Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) for cerebrospinal fluid tests, including CSF oligoclonal banding

MRI scan of the brain and MRI scan of the spine are important to help diagnose and follow MS

Nerve function study (evoked potential test)

Along with mainstream medicine,integrative,holistic therapies can help with the management and elimination of the symptoms and disease.

Now,that all of you know what MS is all about.
Kavitha and Chris (who I have not met yet) have the most remarkable love story..

In her own words,published in the Daily Beast

In May 2003 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It took me completely by shock. I didn't even know what MS was, what caused it or whether it was terminal. I went from one neurologist to another, hoping for a conflicting second opinion. But no, they all said the same thing: that my brain and spinal MRI images showed so many lesions that they wondered how I had never had an attack. (People with MS suffer from a lack of muscle control and strength and loss of vision, balance and sensation. This is referred to as an "attack" or exacerbation.)

At the time I was in a serious relationship with a man who, like me, is originally from India. We had been introduced to each other by our parents in the hope that we would eventually marry. He was living on the West Coast at the time, while I, having just graduated from college, was living at my parents' home in Greenville, S.C. But he and I communicated constantly, through e-mail, instant messages and by phone—running up huge cell phone bills. He visited me and my family in Greenville, and we all got to know each other. He was very well educated, successful in his career, handsome, and, of course, came from a traditional Indian family. We liked the same kind of food, listened to the same music, and were very attached to our parents. Everything was perfect.

Then came my diagnosis. Shortly afterward my boyfriend dropped me like a rock. He had certain expectations for his future and felt that marrying someone with such a serious chronic disease was just not part of his life plan. We ended our relationship. I was devastated. Still reeling from the news about my health, and clinging to my family for support, I withdrew completely from the normalcy of my previous life.

And then came Chris.

I had known Chris for six years. We'd worked together at the local shopping mall one summer. He was a close friend, and we kept in touch throughout our college years, while I was living in Clemson, S.C., and he was in Columbia, S.C. When we both moved back to Greenville after college, we had lunch a few times a week, went to the movies together and accompanied each other to Christmas parties and other social events. Though we spent a lot of time together, I had never entertained the idea of dating him seriously because I didn't think my family would approve of a non-Indian boyfriend. In spite of having lived abroad most of my life, I had always expected that I would marry an Indian guy, not an American, especially not one who'd grown up so differently than I had.

Chris was born and raised in the South and had never been on an airplane. I had lived on three different continents before I was 15. He ate everything under the sun, and I was a vegetarian. He was a devout Christian and I was a Hindu. I was a Clemson Tiger and he was a University of South Carolina Gamecock. It just wasn't possible.

But while I was busy concentrating on my preconceived notions about Chris, he began picking up the pieces of my life and putting me back together. He came with me to my doctors' appointments and stuck around when I had to take my injections. He was still there week after week when I was sick to my stomach with side effects from my treatments. He became my best friend. Slowly all my stereotypes started breaking down. All the differences that I was so sure should keep us apart became reasons to be together. He taught me how to be more patient, how to change a flat tire and how to use a punching bag. I taught him how to balance a checkbook, took him on his first plane trip, and showed him how to use just the right amount of garam masala. And while Chris is still a happy omnivore and I remain a vegetarian, we both managed to gain weight after we got married. He's still a Christian and I'm still a Hindu. We attend services at both churches and temples. Our house is divided not by faith but by the arch rivalry between Clemson and USC. We celebrated our three-year wedding anniversary in July. My family adores him.

I am convinced that my illness was just a means for me to find this happiness. It was a blessing in disguise. It taught me to look beyond all the things I thought were so important. The differences in culture, religion and life experiences are not what kept Chris and me apart, but what brought us together. I'm certain that we will come across some tough times, but I'm also convinced that whatever path lies ahead of us, we will travel it together. And that is my faith.

I wish her all the love,luck and wellness that exists in this world..
You will get well soon and I can't wait to see your "mixed" baby..what a joy..
Kavitha and Chris..I am glad I can share your story for the world to learn..
Love and Blessings
Vaidya Priyanka