Thursday, October 25, 2012

Unpredictability of Multiple Sclerosis

“It was Thanksgiving morning 1989 when Patti awoke unable to walk and barely able to see or talk …” Patrick Leer (discussing my wife’s first major MS exacerbation)

“It was just before Thanksgiving 1998, she began to see some numbness on her right side. It began spreading, larger and larger. She was having more difficulty getting upstairs …” Mitt Romney (discussing his wife’s first major MS symptoms)

Within a few months, Ann Romney was nearly bedridden and staring at life in a wheelchair. “I was at such a scared time in my life,” she told an audience in Orlando.

Within a few months, Patti had rebounded from her week long Thanksgiving hospitalization of IV Prednisone treatment and courageously returned to work. A second major exacerbation would hospitalize her again within the year.

Romney credits her doctor’s aggressive treatment and the therapeutic effects of horseback riding as reasons for the “miraculous” recovery of much of her strength.

Patti originally diagnosed with “probable MS” four years earlier in 1985  following a bout of unexplained and spreading numbness and tingling in her hands that equally baffling just went into remission did not have the opportunity of any aggressive treatment as no treatment existed way back then (13 years before Ann Romney) except the Swank Diet and prednisone for acute exacerbations. 

Today (14 years later) Ann Romney is aware that it’s the nature of the disease that she can’t know when she might get worse. “I started feeling tingling and a little bit of numbness coming back and I was dizzy … the MS fog …” Ann Romney describing a flare-up of her MS during the Republican Party primaries.

Today (27 years later) Patti lives 'in the now' due to progression of MS dementia symptoms. Non-ambulatory (what was once called bedridden) she requires assistance with each and every activity of daily living.

Yesterday riding through Florida under clear skies and 87° (30.5°C) and thanks to her 'team of campaign workers' Ann Romney's life on a campaign bus made a stop at a bakery for treats for her accompanying grandchildren and a photo opportunity for supporters.
Laurel Lake, Mountain Creek, Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Yesterday in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania on a spectacular 75°F (23.8°C) sunny Fall afternoon, thanks to the 'team of staff' at Patti’s care facility that got her ready and thanks to the assistive technology (wheelchair accessible van) to transport us … we could push and roll to a lakeside picnic and laugh through a game of rock, paper and scissors on a wooden bridge over a mountain creek.

by Patrick Leer
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @
My Lung Cancer Odyssey @ 


  1. We also don't have the unlimited financial resources that Mrs. Romney has at her disposal. I think she is able to afford whatever she needs to keep her going. Not that I'm belittling her MS, but I sure wish I had her kind.
    Glad you enjoyed your outing in the beautiful fall weather.

    1. Muffie, we have seen before that money cannot slow progression, for example Annette Funicello. MS is the proverbial 800 lb gorilla. Patti wishes she had anyone's MS other than her own.

  2. I got to say, I love that picture of that bench's view!!! What a relaxful place to go and spend some time together, Patrick. Its just a shame that MS exists; it does prove to let us know that it is indiscriminate and attacks all kinds, rich, poor, middle class, etc. I wonder if Romney gets elected if MS will be a cause Mrs. Romney will support and highlight as First Lady.


    1. Betty! That's right your blog is entitled "a bench with a view". Interestingly public benches work great for us because they enable me to sit next to Patti. Though not designed that way they are the original 'companion seating' :)


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