is a 44-year-old retired veteran of the United States Air Force. Mike honorably served as a security policeman for close to 23 years. Mike has been married for over 20 years and has two young sons, ages 13 and 11. Mike was looking forward to retiring from the military so he could spend more time with his family. All of Mike’s plans for the future were drastically changed when he was recently diagnosed with MULTIPLE SYSTEM ATROPHY (MSA),
after only being retired for 2 years. Most people have never heard of MSA, because it is an extremely rare disease. It is estimated that only 50,000 people in America have it, according to the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition.
MSA is a rare neurological disorder that impairs the body’s involuntary (autonomic) functions. There is no known cause and no cure or treatments available.
MSA shares many Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms, such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, and poor balance. Predominant signs and symptoms are lack of muscle coordination (ataxia). Other signs and symptoms include (but are not limited to):
-Impairment of movement and coordination, loss of balance
-Slurred, slow, or low-volume speech
-Visual disturbances, such as blurred or double vision
-Difficulty swallowing or chewing
-Dizziness or lightheadedness, or even faint, when standing up from sitting or lying down.
-Loss of bladder or bowel control (incontinence) & constipation
-A reduction in the production of bodily fluids (perspiration, tears, & saliva)
-Impaired control of body temperature, often causing cold hands or feet, as well as heat intolerance
-Difficulty controlling emotions
To put it plainly, what MSA does to the brain can be compared to a grape shrinking into a raisin, slowly removing the ability to do things for yourself. One by one, your systems shut down. Since Mike started showing symptoms of MSA, the disorder has progressed rapidly. Although Mike can communicate, he has a difficult time getting his thoughts out and putting them into words. He speaks slowly and sometimes does not make sense. Eventually, he will lose the ability to speak and eat.
MSA is a wheelchair disease. Currently, Mike is using a cane, but sooner rather than later, he will be in a wheelchair and later, bedridden. Mike does not drive and relies on his wife and friends to take him places. Mike can no longer be employed; losing his salary will be a struggle to make the adjustments needed to accommodate him in their house. The biggest expense will be constructing a master bedroom and bathroom on the main floor of their home as well as building an entry ramp.
Mike will soon need full-time care. There is NO CURE FOR MSA, it is a DEATH SENTENCE. It is rare for a person with MSA to live ten years after diagnoses. Doctors suspect that Mike has approximately 5 years left. Mike served our country for 22+ years. Let’s help him live the rest of his life with as much dignity as possible and help his family. Anything helps! If you can’t contribute, please share this link! Thank you and God bless you! For more information about this disease, visit: https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/multiple-system-atrophy/