Health Watch: Back on his feet and helping others

Health Watch: Back on his feet and helping others

Multiple Sclerosis affects twice as many people in our area as expected. In this week's "Health Watch," NewsChannel 10's Michelle Langowski shares how one man isn't letting the disease slow him down.

There is no real way to track how many are affected by multiple sclerosis. The National MS Society estimates there to be 800 people in the Texas Panhandle and tri-state area with the disease.

Heath Henderson was diagnosed five years ago and feared the worst. "At one point I pictured myself pretty much bedridden at the house and just making my doctor's appointments. And then there was a couple of times that the doctors thought I was getting so bad with my MS, it wasn't stopping and they didn't think I was going to make it in the hospital," remembered Heath.

In 2007 he began noticing numbness in his legs and couldn't figure out what was causing it.
After some tests, he was told he had multiple sclerosis. His sudden onset of symptoms isn't unusual.

April Brownlee with the National MS Society says "someone may feel completely fine today and then tomorrow they may have an exacerbation and could wake up blind, they could wake up missing function in a portion of their body. They may be in a grocery store and suddenly find themselves unable to walk."

Heath spent about 8 months in a wheelchair, constantly in pain. But he says he was determined to get back on his feet. "When I got diagnosed with MS I dealt with a lot of pain and issues in my body and spasticity and so I was always searching. I was tired of being on medicines all the time, so I was searching for alternative relief that I could get for the pain I was having in my legs and lower back."

That's where he came up with the idea to create "Panhandle Bodyworkers."
It was through massage therapy, Chinese cupping therapy and other therapies that he found relief. He wanted to share that with others who were suffering and in pain.
"My thoughts are is if you have the determination and the help with the ms society and all the support, you can get back up and running, living a normal life."

April remembers Heath's condition just a few months ago,"it's kind of unusual to see someone so young with such severe progression of the disease. But just to think we saw him a few years ago at Christmas and he was struggling to walk, and now to see him today, thriving in a business is quite a turn-around."

It is not known what causes MS and there isn't a cure. However, today's treatments are helping delay the progression of the disease.

You can help raise money to find a cure by joining this year's "WALK MS 2012."

* Saturday, April 14th at Caprock High School, 3001 SE 34th Ave., Amarillo
* Goal is to raise $130,000 
* Individuals and groups are invited to walk and raise money.

Money collected goes toward research and financial assistance to help those struggling to pay medical expenses.

A  typical patient will pay about $70,000 dollars a year for treatments and testing.