'It is comforting to know you are not alone'

Victims: Multiple sclerosis is often misunderstood

Sabrina Haines looks at paperwork for her job at Jeff City Filing Service. Haines has multiple sclerosis but tries to carry on a normal, active life.

Sabrina Haines looks at paperwork for her job at Jeff City Filing Service. Haines has multiple sclerosis but tries to carry on a normal, active life. Photo by Julie Smith.

Sabrina Haines knew something was wrong when her arms started going numb the week before a scheduled surgery for carpal tunnel.

Chris Dale noticed her big toe was numb in January. And by the time she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in June, her whole left side was numb.

Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms.

Haines and Dale said the disease is something most do not understand, because those with it “look” healthy, leaving the public confused and often misinformed about what is truly going on.

“People often confuse MS and muscular dystrophy — Jerry’s kids,” Dale said. “While children can, and have been diagnosed with MS, it is typically diagnosed in your 20s through 40s, just the time when people are building their careers and raising families.”

When Haines was diagnosed, she said all she really knew about the disease was that Montel Williams, famous talk show host, had the disease and he seemed fine.

The women say the disease goes in and out of remission, commonly sending those with the disease to the hospital for a variety of reasons.

Though she has been in remission for the past five years, Dale said she was in the hospital numerous times between her diagnosis in 1997 and 2006.

Dale was at the first MS support group meeting in Jefferson City in 1998. Since that meeting, she has been attending and leading the meetings.

The MS Talk Group meets the first Monday of the month at 6 p.m. in the Coca-Cola Community Room, 605 Washington St.

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