In 1978, at age 56, my Dad started dragging his left leg. Five years later, at age 61, my Dad was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Because of his gender and age, apparently, it never occurred to his doctors that he might have MS. He had the Primary Progressive type and it actually progressed fairly slowly. It only affected his lower body. My parents forbade my sister and me from telling anyone about his diagnosis until it became apparent that he had a serious condition. To this day, I don’t know why. It isn’t contagious and it wasn’t an STD. Why would there be a stigma attached to this baffling disease?
There weren’t many drugs around that helped at that time. My Dad fought to stay mobile; he joined a fitness club and swam 5 days a week in their pool before work. One thing I remember vividly was that on a hot day, it was much more difficult for my Dad to move. He started using a walker. He kept swimming. He continued to walk with a walker, progressively more and more slowly.
In 1994, I started working for Dr. Andrew Pasminski, a chiropractor, naprapath and acupuncturist. He did a lot of diagnostic gastrointestinal testing. I brought my Dad to see him; my Dad’s entire immediate family had problems with constipation. When I was a kid, I never understood why my Grandmother was always eating prunes. Dr. Pasminksi believes many musculoskeletal problems and disorders result from “leaky gut syndrome” which is a condition where the bowel lining allows substances such as toxins, microbes and waste to leak through. This causes the body to initiate an immune reaction which can cause severe health conditions. Dr. Pasminski thought my Dad’s gastric problems played a big role in his disease and he thought he could help him. My Dad didn’t want to pursue the treatment.
In 2000, he had a stroke which left him paralyzed from the waist down. His doctors thought it was due, in part, to MS. After spending several years in a wheelchair, he developed a pressure sore on his heel that just would not heal. After years of trying to control the infection that developed, he finally had his lower leg amputated. In October, 2006, my Dad had a massive stroke which killed him. He had other health conditions, but it was thought that his MS played a role in his death.
My Dad, the eternal optimist, still managed to keep a positive attitude despite his health problems. He learned to use a computer, played the recorder, was an avid reader, listened to audiobooks and was an active member of the Senior Center of Highland Park. He never allowed MS to diminish the quality of his life.
Leslie Kahn is a licensed massage therapist who has been practicing for 18 years. She has learned several different bodywork techniques over the years; her treatments are unique and tailored to each individual client. She only makes housecalls, both to businesses and homes. She has been married for 35 years to a native Brit, Martin Aistrope, who is an actor, voiceover performer and dialect coach. In 2000, they adopted a baby boy who turned out to have special needs. She is also a blogger for ChicagoNow at Soapbox Momma.