National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

Published: Mar. 18, 2023 at 8:20 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - March is National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month. Multiple sclerosis or MS is an immune-mediated disease which means that there is an abnormal response of the body’s immune system that causes the disease. The immune system attacks the central nervous system by mistake.

Nettie Lindvig of Bismarck has been living with MS since 2003. Before being fully diagnosed, she noticed something was not right.

“I had been having trouble getting in and out of my car, I would have to lift my leg to get into my car. One day, the left side of my face went numb and that was the side I was having trouble with my legs. By the end of the day, the whole left side of my head was numb,” said Lindvig.

After many doctor visits, neurology visits, tests, and an MRI of her brain, it was determined that the symptoms she was having were the result of MS. The next phase was treatment. There are medications that help to slow the progression of the disease and they are getting better each time, but it’s a lot of trial and error.

“I have been on, I think this is my sixth medication since I was diagnosed. Some of the times you go to have your check-up and MRI and something may be new and there’s new lesions, so then they change your medication because the medication isn’t working anymore,” said Lindvig.

Although she does not know how she will feel physically every day, Lindvig attends weekly classes at the Missouri Valley YMCA where a class called MS Strong meets. The program brings resources to those with MS in the community.

“We focus on education for those, providing resources, we hope to provide social engagements, so strengthening the community that we already have for those with MS. As well as providing exercise, so a dedicated class where they can come with peers that they can increase their wellness, functional capacity, and quality of life,” said McKaela Halvorson, group fitness director at the Missouri Family YMCA and Mandan Family Wellness.

Lindvig could have easily given up and become secluded, but instead, she decided to become aware of the disease she was living with. She conducted research on MS which lead her to find the National MS Society. She became an MS advocate, coordinated walks, and even has spoken with politicians about the disease.

“For me it was helpful, it made me feel like I was making a difference. It’s like, ‘OK, I have this, I’m going to fight it tooth and nail, and I’m going to do whatever I can to help find a cure for it,’” said Lindvig.

New people are diagnosed with MS every day and it is difficult to accept the results and focus on moving forward. Lindvig says don’t panic.

“Get support and get educated on it. Go to the National MS Society Upper Mid-West Chapter. They have brochures, they have all kinds of support. They have MS navigators and they will help you right off the bat,” said Lindvig.

The National MS Society says that nearly one million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with this disease. It hits close to home for KFYR-TV Reporter Justin Gick as his dad was recently diagnosed with MS. Although there is only medication to slow down the progression of the disease, people living with MS are hopeful a cure will be found soon.

If you have MS, there is a support group that meets on the second Tuesday of each month at the Bismarck Library.