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An MS Patients' Story of: The Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis

Posted Nov 17 2009 10:20pm
Written by: John M. Francis

I'll never forget the date....June 20, 1987....

The neurologist gave me his diagnosis for the symptoms I had been experiencing for the last few months...slight lack of balance, slight double vision, more than usual amounts of headaches...

His diagnosis...Multiple Sclerosis....MS? What the heck is that? How about pulling out your script pad for something that will make this go away?

Oh, there is no medicine....damn....double damn...

But next year things got much better for me as I married my favorite girl...
I was reading the morning Detroit Free Press,,,,and there was this column on second section of paper....by a columnist I never read...but headline of column caught my attention. To paraphrase...it was something about Multiple Sclerosis and exercise.

Hmmm. The column was about this man....Jimmie Heuga..who was appearing at a very end ski shop ....who had won an Olympic bronze medal in the 1964 Winter Olympics, in slalom skiing. It was a big deal within the ski community as Americans were not usually winners in Alpine skiing....American Billy Kidd won silver medal, and Jimmie won the bronze.

But....several years later Jimmie began to experience symptoms which were eventually diagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis......well, his ski career was over.

And after sitting around idly for a few years....he decided to attack his problem by doing what he knew....exercise.

So I sent away for information....it told of the program...which was 4 & 1/2 days long....in Vail, CO. I was excited...while certainly no where near Olympic levels of athletics...I used to run 10-15 miles per week, ride my bicycle, jump rope....used to run 10 K races....in pretty good shape....

So...I anxiously headed to Vail...and I was last to arrive at first session/lecture....there were 24 people using some walking assistance or wheelchair, and ME. Needing no physical help....and my first thought...you had better pay attention over the next few days, buddy....

Well...the first couple of days were measurements of your abilities...from walking, to lung strength, to vision...
Then during meals, you would get lectures on all that is MS...from the neurologist, the nutritionist, the head exercise physiologist....and last couple of lectures were a couple of "...pick me up..." kind of lectures....from a psychologist.

Before you leave, you meet with an exercise physiologist who maps out a exercise program based on your needs. And you receive a sheet with your recommended exercises, to keep track of your exercise routine, which you send into Center each month.

There is also a social aspect to the 4 days...comparing meds....home situations....
When the session ended, I was high from my experience....I was not the only person in the same MS situation...

I have been back to three more Heuga programs....when weekend concludes...head exercise physiologist says a few words, so does C.E.O. of Center encouraging everyone everyone to follow exercise program...and to use 800 # if you have any questions...then they open the floor for comments...and.....everyone is usually crying from the experience.

So lucky and proud I am for getting involved with such a program....if anyone has any specific questions, jm_francis@Homail.com


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