HEATH – For years, Heath High School guidance counselor Vicky Foster has been battling Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease which include problems with muscle control, balance, vision and thinking, that affects 500,000 people in the U.S. and 2.3 million world-wide, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Her experiences and success are were recently chronicled in this Wall Street Journal article which reports exercise, improved diet and sleep can improve MS symptoms:
“Vicky Foster, 53, a high-school guidance counselor, was 35 in 1997, with two children ages 5 and 8, when she began experiencing numbness on her left side and vision problems. For many years she gave herself injections of interferon beta, which affects the immune system and reduces relapses. But she sometimes skipped shots because they were painful and caused flu-like symptoms. After discussing medication options with Shanan Munoz, a neurologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s MS clinic in Dallas, Ms. Foster started on MS drug Gilenya last January, and says she has been compliant with the daily oral dose and hasn’t had a relapse since.
Ms. Foster runs, rides horses and likes to travel and go line dancing. “I never let MS define me,” she says. She takes vitamin D and C supplements, watches her salt intake and avoids hiking or doing yard work in extreme Texas summer heat, which can her exacerbate symptoms.
Dr. Munoz encourages her to stay active. “Medicine alone won’t do it, and you have to make some serious lifestyle changes,” she says. She makes sure patients have adequate levels of vitamin D, which research suggests can not only reduce the risk of getting MS but lessen the frequency and severity of symptoms in those who already have the disease. Sunlight is the body’s most efficient source for vitamin D, and exposure may also offer benefits, experts say.
By J.J. Smith