Friday, January 25, 2013

TING AND I, Cognitive Losses from Her MS


About half of those stricken with multiple sclerosis suffer significant losses in mental abilities. Memory, especially short-term memory, becomes less reliable. Reasoning ability may suffer, at least intermittently. The patient may be lucid one minute and not the next, perhaps repeating the same thing over and over again or echoing what is being said.

The movie Charly (based on the short story “Flowers for Algernon”) is a heartbreaking take on this kind of situation, as we see a brilliant patient lose his thinking skills, regain them with a chemical treatment, and then be doomed to lose them again, as the treatment is found to be only a temporary palliative.

In Tina’s case, significant cognitive deficits were noticeable near when Tina lost her ability to walk, the tenth year of our marriage, 1994. Two heavy blows. She felt deeply the loss of the use of her legs, but she did not notice the loss of mental acuity, which unawareness was a blessing in a way. I felt her cognitive loss even more acutely than her immobility, as the pleasure and utility of our conversations were diminished.

In her current condition, Tina—once an editor at the Encyclopedia Britannica—is sometimes quite aware and clear-headed; at other times her speech may become somewhat muddled and she appears to be confused. Her heart remains pure gold, however, priceless to all who know her.

We hope that future developments in MS treatment will allow restoration of her wonderful mind.

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