'Day by day'

Multiple sclerosis support group makes progress, needs greater attendance

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If you go

What: Multiple sclerosis support group

Where: Platinum room, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, 745 Russell St.

When: 4 to 6 p.m., third Monday of every month

• Anyone living with or wanting more information about MS is welcome. Refreshments are provided. For more information, call 824-8233.

Fatigue. Lack of balance. Blurred vision.

Patsy Magness has had to contend with these symptoms and more since she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000.

Her approach to living with the central nervous system disease is to "go day by day," a tactic she has shared with fellow MS sufferers.

Magness helped start Craig's MS support group last year as an effort to reach out to people struggling with the disease.

"I wanted to meet with other people who had MS and just get together to talk about how we were all doing," Magness said. "It's important that we let people know that they're not alone and that a lot of us face the same problems they do."

Magness has used the prescription drug Avonex for three years to combat her MS.

"It slows the progression and it really helps, but it's not a cure," she said. "At our meetings, we talk about the different ways that we all deal with it, and we help each other recognize symptoms."

Magness said she is "quite satisfied" with the progress the group has made since its inception, but she would like to see a greater attendance at the meetings.

Twelve people were present at the group's last meeting at the Northwest Colorado Visting Nurse Association.

"There are a lot of people in the area who have MS," she said. "Because of confidentiality, we can't get in touch with them, but I would really like to see them introduce themselves. I think a lot of people who have it are in denial, but they need help just like we all need help."

Annie Smyth of Grand Junction, regional program manager for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, attends the meetings to discuss exercises and techniques that aid in the everyday life of people with MS. Last month, group members performed breathing exercises and inverted yoga positions as part of therapy.

"Getting the Grand Junction branch of the MS Society has helped us out," group member Nicole Beckum said. "The only problem is that they're far away, and we don't have another chapter that's nearby."

Beckum said the likelihood of starting a chapter of NMSS in Craig is low.

"It'd be nice to have, but they're usually in bigger cities," she said. "Our real goal is to get more people to come in so that we can have different kinds of activities. We need suggestions for what people want to get out of the group so that we can expand and get things moving."

Beckum encouraged all of Craig's MS population to attend the meetings.

"I think that everybody should at least give it a try," she said.

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 875-1796 or abockelman@craigdailypress.com

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