Multiple Sclerosis Support Group

by Phil Chandler, Owner of Right at Home of Ventura County, Home Care Agency

Many individuals with serious chronic illnesses find that meeting and discussing their illness at support groups provides comfort and tips in dealing with the disease. The Breeze will be highlighting local support groups for several different conditions in the coming weeks.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. It affects each person differently, and patients live with the disease for a long  time, typically decades.  It can be mild or severe, and is typically diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed  than men.

Multiple Sclerosis is an auto-immune disease because the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause the nerves themselves to deteriorate or become permanently damaged.

They symptoms of MS vary widely because they depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Some people have mild symptoms and experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms, while others may lose the ability to walk.

There is no cure for MS, but there are many lifestyle modifications and medications that will improve the patient’s quality of live and alleviate symptoms.

There are two support groups in Ventura for Multiple Sclerosis. They are both co-facilitated by Tammy Jensen and Donna Nowland. Tammy has lived with Multiple Sclerosis for twenty five years. The support groups members range from their early 20’s to the 70’s. The support group provides a great resource for patients and caregivers to discuss symptoms, share tips and tricks for dealing with MS, and build a strong social support network.

The larger support group meets at Carrow’s  at 2401 E. Harbor Blvd  in Ventura on the last Friday of the month from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. This group typically has 15 to 20 participants and often has guest speakers. Previously, they have had a physician that specializes in MS speak to the group about treatments and managing symptoms. At another meeting, a yoga instructor discussed exercises that alleviate some symptoms experienced by the group members.

The second group meets at Panera Bread, 4910 Telephone Road on the third Thursday of the month from 3:00PM to 4:30PM. Many of the attendees from the Carrow’s support group attend, but it is more of a social gathering for the members.

The next meeting will be held on July 21 from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM at Panera Bread restaurant, 4910 Telephone Road. Please RSVP to Tammy at 648-6402.

For more information on these support groups, call Tammy Jensen at 648-6402 or Donna Nowland at 646-3750 .

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