Our speaker this month is John Gratton from South Devon interviewed by eRotarian John Isles
Nick: Hi and thanks for the opportunity. I’m Nick Gratton and I’m Chairman of South Devon Multiple Sclerosis Society I’m 57 years young a retired ex small businessman who has had the condition of Multiple Sclerosis for about 17 years. Due to the complexity of the condition I was mis-diagnosed by a General Neurologist but that’s another story!
John: Many of us have heard about Multiple Sclerosis so can you tell us briefly what it is?
Nick: Multiple Sclerosis is diagnosed as a critical condition but not a Life threatening Illness as most people do not die from Multiple Sclerosis but another condition due to the depressed immune system. South Devon Multiple Sclerosis Society is a local support Charity for all people diagnosed with MS whatever type and is part of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society which has branches throughout the United Kingdom. There is one in Swindon.
Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive neurological condition which affects more young adults than any other neurological condition. 70% of affected people are female. It is not a condition that is passed genetically although people with the condition are more likely to pass this on through childbirth so that their children develop the condition but not to the point so it can be called inherent, The nerve ends get damaged due to the breakdown of the Myelin Sheath which is the coating that protects the nerve endings It’s a condition that affects every person in a different way from a limp to being bed bound. This is because like a complex wiring circuit it is dependent on which nerve endings are damaged and the condition for which there is not any cure at present. Just medicines to help slow the progression.
John: Clearly there are different types of MS?
Nick: Yes there are several types Benign, Relapsing Remitting, Secondary Progressive and Primary Progressive. Each person is different but there are a lot of common symptoms, like stiff legs, compromised balance, cognitive problems, pain plus fatigue to mention a few.
John: Is there a cure for any of these different types?
Nick: Unfortunately not. Considerable research is taking place both nationally and internationally including locally and there are two Professors, Jeremy Hobart and John Zajicek, who are leading research professors and trials are being conducted at the Peninsular Medical College at Plymouth. Research is finding new things and new treatments to help slow the progression but like all new things testing is prolonged and expensive, A cure is elusive as it has not been proved what actually causes the condition.
However, you cannot die directly from the condition but people’s immune systems can be severely compromised causing things like pneumonia that can kill people.
Nick: I know the MS Society does receive a great deal of support from Rotary Clubs up and down the country. This is not just financial donations but ‘hands on’ help at our events. There is a MS Society in Swindon and it’s worth a look at their website. They run events and offer a whole range of support services. Perhaps more importantly however, you will see from some of the crazy activities we get up to, we don’t let our condition hold us back from enjoying life.
John: Many thanks Nick it’s been a pleasure to talk to you and I’m sure our members will have a look at the website.