Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition that affects the central nervous system. It's hard to comprehend how each patient will be impacted because no two MS patients have the same symptoms. Nancy Naeve Brown met a woman from Pickstown who has suffered with the debilitating disease for 27 years, but has a new found freedom thanks to her new doctor and a new drug.
Connie Delvaux from Pickstown has multiple sclerosis. She says her life changed for the better in 2010 after she started seeing Avera Neurologist Dr. Lisa Viola in Sioux Falls. Connie's symptoms date back to 1985. She tells us it started by losing her balance getting out of bed but it progressed to affect the entire left side of her body and wouldn't you know it she's left handed.
Connie says, "I can use my hand to write but its like pins and needles. It feels like it's asleep but it isn't. My walking was really bad. I didn't have enough energy. When I'd get up in the morning I swear by 10:00 AM I'd need to take a nap."
Dr. Lisa Viola is also the Director of the Great Plains MS Center which is collaboration between the MS Society, Neurology Associates and Avera. Dr. Viola says, "MS is a neurological condition that affects the central nervous system the brain, spinal cord, optic nerve frequently involved. That's system has a coding on it called myelin. Myelin is what's attacked in MS. It's an autoimmune condition which means the normal system that is supposed to fight infection abnormally recognizes myelin, that coating on the nerves as a foreign substance and attacks it."
In 2001 Connie regrettably had to take disability retirement from teaching because the MS had taken its toll on her body.
Connie says, "I'm so fortunate I found Dr. Viola and that was the same time they came out with Ampyra. It had just been FDA approved. I say this has to be God working to bring everything together."
Ampyra only works in about 40% of patients with MS and luckily Connie is among that group.
Connie says, "Before I would use my walker to get around the house, but wouldn't walk anywhere else. Now with Ampyra when it's nice I actually go for a walk around town and it's wonderful. I swear it's like a whole new life. I'm very fortunate. My husband is the best support group you could get.
A helpful husband coupled with team approach at Avera McKennan has improved the quality of life for someone who has a lot of living left to do.
The Sioux Falls MS walk is Saturday April 30th at 10:30 am beginning at the Stewart Center on USF's campus. There is a 1.5 or 3 mile walk and the event is sponsored in part by Neurology Associates and Avera.