Multiple Sclerosis At A Young Age

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Multiple Sclerosis At A Young Age

Dover 2018

Dover 2018

Dover 2018

Dover 2018

Carina Barron, Reporter

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Dover 2018

Dover in Topeka 2015

Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative autoimmune system disorder where the immune system attacks the nervous system, creating lesions on the brain and spinal cord. These lesions create deterioration in functioning of the body’s systems. Researchers and doctors have not yet found out a cause for MS.

In order to be diagnosed with MS, one has to have two separate damaged systems; the brain and spinal cord. MS is not a hereditary disease, but some do see it affect their family members and it once was thought to be hereditary. Researchers have yet to find a cure for MS, though there are treatments that increase outcomes, and symptoms are usually treated as they arise.


North Physics teacher Marcillene Dover is 24 years old and living with MS. She began experiencing symptoms at the age 0f 19. At that time, she did not have medical insurance, and was unable to afford the diagnostic MRI suggested by her doctor out of pocket. Instead, Dover was misdiagnosed with a pinched nerve.

Dover was fully diagnosed at the age of 21.

“If you have it on your spine, you have leg problems, so that’s why I have trouble walking. If you get it on your brain, you can have cognitive and vision issues,” Dover said.

The medical community is still uncertain how MS develops, but the disease manifests itself as a patient ages.

“It could be that I was born with it, but they think it is a combination of both genetic and environmental factors,” Dover said.

Having MS and being a teacher can be difficult sometimes.

“The biggest impact it has on me is obviously walking – that’s an issue,” Dover said. “But that’s something I deal with in my daily life, as well.”

“This is going to sound weird, but the biggest impact it has on me in a school day is that I’m on a time schedule, and part of my symptoms of MS is having bladder issues,” Dover said. “I have peed my pants before – I have really bad bladder problems. It was really hard that first year. You have to train your bladder to be on a schedule.”

However, Dover has adjusted.

“This year is easier because, believe it or not, I have a class of good freshman,” Dover said. “I dip on them and say, ‘hey, I have to pee, deal with it,’ – otherwise I wouldn’t make it through my next class.”

Dover cannot walk long distances because she gets tired quickly. “I have used a wheelchair to get around, just because it’s easier than walking very far.”

Having MS isn’t easy. Dover feels that she has experienced discrimination here at school, but school is not the only place where she has faced discrimination.
Even though she has a handicap placard, she has felt judged for using it. “I park in handicap stalls and people look at me and see me as being skinny and young, so I shouldn’t be in that spot,” she said. “People don’t realize that I can only walk a certain amount of distance before my legs give out.”

“It’s the same as being discriminated against for any other reason, it doesn’t feel good,” Dover said. “You just wish people could see around it, but it gets in the way of everything.”

Discrimination is not just people being cruel or assuming things about you.

“Some of the discrimination I’ve faced, believe it or not, is someone not letting me be independent,” Dover said. “Like when someone offers to help me, it can be a good thing, but some people go about it the wrong way.”

“It can be kind of offensive for someone to assume you need help. Like, when someone offers to help me, and I say I don’t need help, and they still insist that I do – like they don’t think I can get by alone.”

Walking is not the only issue Dover has had with MS.

“Every now and then my vision is affected, so that could affect my teaching,” she said, “but I’m pretty good about working around it.”

Recently, Dover took a trip to Topeka, and last year, she went to Washington, D.C. Her recent trip to the capitol was her fourth time going with the MS Society to advocate for Medicaid expansion.

In Topeka, Dover got to talk to Sen. Lynn Rodgers, and Rep. John Carmichael’s aide.

“We got to talk to them about support for Medicaid expansion,” Dover said. “We got to update them on step therapy too, which we advocated for last year.”

After meeting with the legislators, Dover was able to participate a rally for Medicaid expansion.

“We listened to some doctors, neurologists, and legislator Bolier,” she said. “Some speakers were hospital workers talking about how Medicaid expansion would help here in Kansas, helping small hospitals from being shut down.”

Medicaid currently only covers children and pregnant women; it does not cover single adults who have low incomes, including the average college student.

“When I first got diagnosed, I pretty much diagnosed myself with WebMD, because I didn’t have medical insurance,” Dover recalls.

“I applied through the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America to receive a diagnostic MRI,” she said. “I had to pay $300 out of pocket to see a neurologist so he could recommend me for it.”

Dover was thankful for being able to get a free MRI through a charitable organization. However, once diagnosed, she had to face how to receive treatments and see a neurologist regularly.

“The MS Society helped me find Project Access,” she said. “It’s a Sedgwick County program that connects uninsured people with chronic illnesses with doctors willing to donate care.”

“If I didn’t know about the MSAA, I wouldn’t have been diagnosed and it would have delayed my diagnosis further,” she said. “I was already misdiagnosed once because of lack of health insurance.”

“If I didn’t live in Sedgwick County, once being diagnosed, I wouldn’t have had access to care,” Dover said.

If she did not advocate for herself, she would have had to wait until working here at North to have health insurance, and she would have gone two more years without a diagnosis. The thing about MS is that without preventative care and treatment, you get worse at a faster rate.

Thankfully Dover does work at North now and has health insurance, so she is receiving treatment and can see a doctor whenever she needs to.

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