Thursday, June 5, 2008

Update on my Aunt

As many of you know, my Aunt Karen has been in a home now for over a month as she battles a disease I have been loosely referring to as parkinsonism. What she actually has is a disease known as Multiple Symptom Atrophy.

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is the current name for disorders once known individually as striatonigral degeneration, sporadic olivopontocerebellar atrophy, and the Shy-Drager syndrome. MSA is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by symptoms of autonomic nervous system failure (such as lightheadedness or fainting spells, constipation, erectile failure in men, and urinary retention) combined with tremor and rigidity, slurred speech, or loss of muscle coordination. MSA affects both men and women, primarily in their 50s. It can progress swiftly or slowly, but people with MSA generally survive for 9 years after the appearance of symptoms. There is no remission from the disease. (

Since this disease effects the brain directly, a combination of the disease as well as the mass amounts of daily medication she is on has caused her to suffer from sever hallucinations, which she has come to accept as reality. She gets little continual sleep, and is in constant pain. Image what it is like when you have a sever stiff neck. Your muscles are in constant pain and feel rock hard to the touch. This is how she is all over her body.

Her speech is now very slurred, and it is difficult to understand her. Much of the time when she speaks, it is to discuss the hallucinations which she feels are very real... a very real danger that now haunts her daily life.

When she is able to get around, she does so in a wheel chair or motorized scooter. She has a catheter, which she will have for the rest of her life. The doctor told us she probably won't see another 12 months, but only God knows for sure.

Please keep her and my family, especially my Mother, in your thoughts and prayers. While I am really just an observer in all this, it makes me truly thankful for the health and graces I have been given in my life.

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