Sunday, August 06, 2006

Caregiving: MS "teaching aid"

     Meet our “show and tell” Multiple Sclerosis teaching aid. It has starred in class or science fair demonstrations all through Elementary, Middle, and High School. At home, we use it for guests and visitors.

     Most people only want an extremely brief and simple 'MS for Dummies' definition. The following is an attempt at reenacting how that often goes ...


     Multiple Sclerosis is not contagious. Even if Patti decided to bite you the odds are zero you would get Multiple Sclerosis.

     Electrical cords are easy to relate to for everyone. Inside a cord is an electrical wire that conducts electricity. The cord serves to shield the wire. When the yellow cord becomes frayed like this one then the copper wire is exposed. Let’s use a lamp for an example. A frayed cord and damaged wire will cause a lamp to short out or not work.

    Our bodies have miles of nerves connecting the brain to our extremities and organs. Surrounding and protecting the brain and nerves is a substance called Myelin. The relationship between the Myelin sheath and our nerves is much like an electrical cord to a wire.

     When a person has Multiple Sclerosis the body’s immune system (one of the most powerful forces in nature) goes rogue and attacks the myelin sheath.

     As the immune system breaks through the myelin then communication with the brain is affected. When your body’s myelin sheath and nerves start looking like this piece of electrical cord then parts of you stop working.

     Usually there is an attempt at Q & A. “I thought MS is supposed to …”, or the ever popular. “I have a friend who knows someone with MS and they are not like Patti….”

     I point out I promised 'extremely brief and simple', and most importantly Patti is not her disease and absolutely nothing bores her more than MS 101 when socializing. <grin> So let’s leave it with this  – Multiple Sclerosis is the proverbial 800 lb gorilla and will do whatever it damn well pleases.


     “Living with MS” it’s surprising how many people you have to educate in less than two minutes. MS has no poster child and the variations in level of disability and symptoms only confound any public understanding.  Our home made “myelin sheath” has taught more people in our story than any professional brochure. 

     'The Wire' also has also been adopted over the years as a “thing of interest” to Stardust and somehow is able to wander. <grin> 



  1. A brilliant way of explaining, very easy to relate to................I'm in agreement with Stardust, 'The Wire' is interesting and I'm wondering if Stardust was responsible for the home made 'myelin sheath'  :) Rache

  2. ....excellent explanation for MS.  I know so little about the disease, I am one of the dummies.  As you say all people seem to have different symptoms that are pronounced and progress at different rates.  My friend doesn't seem to have any obvious symptoms and she has been accused by family as 'faking' the disease.

  3. very good explanation of MS you have come up with, Patrick. Quick, to the point and easy to follow. Although when I first saw the electrical cord I couldn't quite figure out what it was..........


  4. Hello, Patrick, I'm very grateful to read this entry, as there is MS in my family and even with my puny medical backround, I have difficulty explaining certain aspects of the disorder.  You've given me some needed help.  Also, you're most wecome to my Journal, please visit anytime.  CATHY  

  5. great way to explain MS.

    Stardust is beautifuL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. wonderful way to show ms bravo !!!!!


  7. You explained that very well, Patrick. I read your latest entries in reverse order. The college campus looks beautiful (in one of the following entries). Your life is so full... and your daughter going off to college. It's going to get a bit quieter in your home very soon. As a parent of a child that has gone off to college, and moved out of our home (he's 27 now, and in Pharmacy school), I remember how different things felt around the house after he left. By then, I was already in school, working on a teaching degree, so I never felt like I had an empty nest. My nest filled up with studying and teaching. I'm thinking that with all that is needed to take care of Patti, even though she is in 24/7 care facility, it fills your nest. Thanks for the explanation. bea


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