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‘You are not alone’

Craig couple starting MS support group

Mari Katherine Raftopoulos
Ray Magness embraces his wife, Patsy, on the couch, where, on her bad days, she spends much of her time. Patsy, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, and Ray are starting a local support group for the disease.
Courtesy Photo

— He smiles.

She smiles.

Today is a good day.

But tomorrow her feet may go numb.

Or her ability to see her husband – the one who now does the laundry, dishes and cooking – will be blurry.

You won’t see her on those bad days.

But her husband, Ray, will.

After Patsy Magness was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000, her health determines a good or bad day.

“People will see her on a good day and say, ‘Wow, you look great today,'” Ray said. “She is not in a wheelchair so people don’t think she’s sick.”

But her health is unpredictable.

“On a bad day, Patsy will be on the couch all day because she can barely walk or see,” Ray said. “No one sees her but me on those days, and it’s hard to see her like that.”

But Ray loves her no matter what kind of day she’s having.

“I am so thankful for him every day,” Patsy said. “The way he helps me is amazing. He is my lifeline.”

Patsy is not alone in her struggle. The number of local residents suffering from multiple sclerosis is evidence that the community needs a lifeline of its own.

In Craig and surrounding areas, one in every 600 people is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Nationwide, that statistic is one in every 2,000.

For this reason, Ray and Patsy are starting a local multiple sclerosis support group.

Multiple sclerosis is a common disabling neurological disorder of young adults that involves inflammation within the central nervous system.

From seminars to teleconferences throughout Northwest Colorado, the Magnesses have educated themselves about the disease.

But the frequent road trips are exhausting, and the couple would prefer to spread their knowledge locally with a support group. The couple hopes the support group will jump start multiple sclerosis awareness in the community.

“The community is not informed enough about the disease. Most don’t know that it is a problem here,” Patsy said. “We want to bring it to everyone’s attention.”

Most important, Patsy said she hopes to reach others in her situation.

“I want those who have MS to know that they are not alone,” Patsy said. “We all have issues and pressures with the disease, and with the support group, you can express those problems.”

One common issue is depression, the couple said.

“People who suffer from MS feel left out and become depressed,” Ray said. “Being around people will lift their spirits.”

The support group will be flexible in its schedule.

“We can meet basically anywhere depending on people’s schedules and health,” Ray said. “Our goal is to get everyone together at one time, one place.”

To become involved with the multiple sclerosis support group, call Ray and Patsy Magness at 824-8597.

Mari Katherine Raftopoulos can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or mkraftopoulos@craigdailypress.com.


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