Sunday, March 17, 2013

TING AND I, Our Prospects

Despite the dire prognosis given in June 2004, Tina has made it through an additional nine years. Her spirits are good. Her general health is sound. Granted, a severe respiratory infection could be fatal, but she has survived a few of those already.

Current research in multiple sclerosis centers on prevention and repair, with progress being made on both. Prevention involves keeping the immune system from attacking the body itself, specifically, from attacking the myelin sheath that covers and insulates the nerves. For other autoimmune diseases and for many other conditions, the behavior of the immune system is critical, so there are multiple opportunities for breakthroughs concerning autoimmunity to occur as research continues on all of these.

Repair involves replacing the scarred myelin with new myelin. Another route would be to encourage the growth of alternate neural pathways. Here, too, much research activity is underway. Stem cells from Tina’s own body, for example, might migrate preferentially to injured sites, without triggering a damaging immune response. This has been demonstrated in mice.

Neurological improvement would need to be followed up with much physical therapy for Tina to regain some of her previous mobility. Neurological improvement might also diminish cognitive losses she has suffered.

Barring a lethal infection, Tina would be expected to live into her 90s. Her father, despite poor nutrition in childhood, lived to 88, her mother to 95. In America, women live longer than men, Asians live longer than whites, who in turn live longer than blacks. These trends are all in Tina’s favor.

My own mother is 94 now. My medical problems are few and not severe. My insomnia puts me at some added risk. The hole in my head with a tube to my gut (a shunt to deal with hydrocephalus) cannot be figured as an advantage. I expect and want to live much longer, with Tina.

“Together forever” is our dream.


Robert Frost wrote:

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower,

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief.

Dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Yet Tina and I have been in love for 48 years, together and apart. As her father said at our wedding, “Love conquers all.” As one of those it conquered, he would know.

Robert Browning took a different position from Frost:

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life,

For which the first was made.

We agree with Browning.

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