Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects thousands of Americans. It is a disease that is not very well understood by the general public, but that is changing due to the outspoken nature of some famous MS victims. The most famous MS patient is talk-show host Montel Williams.
He has endured his condition for most of his life, but as it progresses, the pain tends to get worse. Montel often speaks about his chronic pain from MS, how he approaches his treatment, and how he refuses to give up.
That isn’t to say that it has been easy for Montel. He shares stories of the depths of depression that hounded him, even if he was famous and had access to the best medical care in the world. His story is one of triumph over this difficult condition, and it is a story that has not ended.
Every day Montel Williams stands as an example of the power of the human spirit over chronic pain and particularly MS. It may help you to cope with your own pain to learn how he copes with his.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s disease fighting cells turn on healthy tissue and destroy it. In the case of multiple sclerosis, the body attacks the protective covering on the nerves called the myelin sheath. When this covering breaks down, it leads to faulty signals in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system.
Depending on the nerves affected, many symptoms are possible from MS. Chronic pain in the hands and feet is generally seen when the nerves in those areas are targeted. Other symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, weakness, paralysis, coordination problems, blindness, and respiratory distress.
Other medications for MS include beta interferons that help to decrease the number of attacks. Copaxone helps to discourage the immune system from attacking the myelin sheath, and Gilenya works by sequestering immune system cells in the lymph system. Many other treatments are available for MS, but most are supportive and do not provide a cure.
Montel had the first symptoms of MS very early in his life. He was 20 and just graduated from the Naval Academy when he started to have trouble with his vision. The problem held him back temporarily from taking up his officer position in the Navy, but the symptom eventually cleared up. He could see again, and the doctors thought it was due to the inoculations he received. It would be 19 years and countless flare-ups of the disease before he was actually diagnosed with MS.
When he was diagnosed, he was already famous and working hard at his talk show. He didn’t want to be held back because of his condition, but the pain was intense. He said he would do an interview and then retreat backstage to cry from the excruciating pain. It was only when a tabloid threatened to expose his condition that we went public with his diagnosis.
If he had been diagnosed at 20, he doesn’t think that he would have made as much progress in the world. Likewise, when he was diagnosed in his 40s, doctors told him he would have to quit his show. He takes great pride in proving them wrong.
Treatments that Help Montel
Montel uses a variety of treatments to control his pain. One way he deals with the pain that stretches from his knees to the bottom of his feet is to use mental imagery. He imagines his pain as an object and mentally puts that object in a box. He then compresses that box and pushes it far away from him to keep his pain at bay. This has allowed him to continue hosting his talk show despite his pain, and it has not stopped him from starting three businesses, one that is a foundation for other MS patients.
He also uses pain medication for his discomfort, but he says that the morphine derivative drugs don’t even take the edge off of his worst pain. Although it does spark controversy, Montel is an advocate of medical marijuana to help his pain. In California, he has a prescription for the drug, and he takes it by mouth every night before he goes to sleep.
He relates that this is the only treatment that manages to take away all of his pain, helps him to sleep, and increases his quality of life. Montel is now an activist for the widespread use of marijuana in treating not only MS but other chronic pain conditions.
If you have MS and suffer from pain related issues, the SoCal Pain Center can help. We can prescribe pain medications and immunosuppressant drugs that can control your symptoms and allow you to lead a full life.
Contact us today for a consultation for your pain condition.