In the mail yesterday were two newsletters about MS. One was MS Life, produced by the MS Society in Qld and the other was the newsletter of MS research.
One of the articles in MS Life was about someone who was diagnosed 4 years ago and is now on Beta Interferon so I thought I'd check what this particular drug does. This article http://www.sfn.org/index.cfm?pagename=brainbriefings_betainterferonandmultiplesclerosis explains that Beta-Interferon does a similar thing to the Tysabri in terms of strengthening the blood-brain barrier and it also claims to reduce inflamation. The article doesn't mention how effective it's proving to be but I recall reading elsewhere that it's not hugely effective, although it's all speculation as I explained in my original post.
After I read the research newsletter as well I came to the conclusion that the system has been largely set up to deal with the worst cases, not to provide useful information for the majority of us who are generally well most of the time. MS Life says that every day 3 young Australians are diagnosed with MS. What are their doctors telling them about how to deal with it? Are they being frightened into taking Beta-Interferon from day one? Are they being advised to take up an exercise program to maintain their muscle strength, or are they told to rest and take it easy instead?
Many years ago I used to go to the Dutton Park centre (in Brisbane) to attend the monthly meetings of People with MS. I did this for a number of years and a lot of the members at the time were self-injecting Beta Interferon, convinced that they were better for it. It was my observation, however, that over time they became foggier in their mental acuity and I became convinced that this was more a function of the drug than of the MS itself. It was during this period that I was experimenting with ice skating and having positive results so I explained this to the members on a number of occasions. Noone else seemed willing to try it for themselves so I stopped going to the meetings and continued along my own path.
F5m is an organisation that's aiming to raise $5million for MS research and according to the newsletter their tally is $1.8million to date. That's all well and good but any results they're likely to achieve through the research are not going to help the 3 young Australians who were supposedly diagnosed with it today..or yesterday..or tomorrow so it's really up to the individual to decide what to do and how to manage the disease.
In my view there are clearly two options; either to start down the slippery path of drug therapy, as I'd guess most neurologists are recommending, or to join a gym and maintain a high level of physical fitness to be able to cope with any possible adversity. I guess there's a third option - to do both, but that may involve the side effects of drug therapy, not good for overall well being and therefore contra to the fitness idea.
If you were to become one of those 3 young Australians tomorrow what do you think you would choose to do?