Kathleen: Some meds work one day, and the next they do not. I continue to take the cocktail of shots and pills daily, but I understand you have changed your treatment plan. Do you see any hope that the mystery of autoimmune diseases will be solved anytime in the near future?
Terry: I am reading of many other choices, explained by many other voices advocating for patient education and patient support rather than just diagnosis and prescriptions. I am living a change right now, having stopped the medication that I believed was pushing me deeper into depression. My course of disease is said to be benign (for now) and unpredictable ahead. I am taking good care of myself in terms of nutrition, and almost as well in terms of exercise. I will follow the research and share what I learn at my blog. Many respectable researchers are now questioning the "faulty immune system" theory of multiple sclerosis, leaning instead towards viewing it as a metabolic issue, dietary in its base, and rapidly increasing in numbers due to the typical North American menu.
I am a history teacher (among other subjects) and I know that American medicine has come far, but it is important to remember, with humility, its beginnings. Leeches for bloodletting, amputation, and lack of effective hygiene were the cause of many deaths during the civil war. Keeping patients in dirty, closed quarters led to complications then untreatable. Elizabeth Blackwell and Dorothea Dix brought fresh air, sunshine, and clean sheets to hospital beds long before doctors and researchers could see and understand microscopic bacteria. "If we do not learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it," is often quoted. Medicine as a culture has to learn from the past. What we think is right today may be laughed at in the future. It is humbling to think that way, but it is honest.
My background is in education, not medicine. Injecting myself every night for four and a half years with a solution that burned and caused swelling, a solution that crossed my blood brain barrier and entered the central nervous system to act as a decoy and perhaps interrupt and capture some of the immune system's cells to keep them from harming the myelin around the nerves frightened me into a depression that required medical help to escape. Yet my doctors persisted in their belief that this was a good treatment for me. I didn't have the courage to speak up and tell them that I disagreed with their medical education. Many patients accept the doctor's education and training as a guarantee that it is right. People believed the doctors who applied leeches knew what they were doing. It is my belief that people can self-assess if given the freedom to do so. That is my purpose in publishing this book.