Gambling with MS
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Legalized gambling can be found in 46 states – gambling is legal in all but Hawaii, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont. Each time a person puts money into a casino machine or puts down chips on one of the table games, they are taking a gamble. I know because I have played my fair share of money and unfortunately I know more about losing money to the house than winning.

When it comes to treating MS, gambling with our health is legal in all 50 states and the US territories, too. The disease modifying therapy (DMT) drugs that are offered to slow the progression of our disease are what might be known as the wild cards in this high-stakes showdown with multiple sclerosis – they’ve all been proven effective in clinical trials but that doesn’t translate to being effective in 100% of the people who are treated with them. What is known is each of us responds differently to these DMTS and what works for me might not work for the next person. That’s where the gamble and the wild card come together. How much of a risk are we willing to gamble, and will that gamble pay off with the right wild card played in our health care?


Making the choice to take or not take a DMT if you have MS is a very personal decision and each of us has to decide on whether to gamble that these drugs will/won’t make a difference for us and our MS progression. For me, the big thing that keeps me on a DMT is the odds are that they work, even though many of the clinical trials done on most of the drugs can’t tell us why or how they are effective. The DMTs don’t cure our MS, they don’t even stop the relapses, but the studies show DMTs increase our odds of delaying the relapses and progression. I believe using a DMT is like stacking the deck and it increases the odds in my favor. I like to think this is a smart wager – I’m taking advantage of all that is offered to beat my MS.

Sometimes, along with the help of our neurologists, we have to consider our odds and we also have to measure the risk versus the reward. Anything that I can do to increase my odds against MS is worth the risk to me. I’m sure you’ve heard this idea more than once in discussing many of the multiple sclerosis drugs available to us. Just like every other drug out there, including common ones such as aspirin and penicillin have a certain amount of risk, so do the DMTs we are offered to slow the relapses of Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS). How much of the risk, which for many of the DMTs is slight and a few others are considerable, you are willing to take can only be decided by you.

Just like I know that almost always the house wins in the casinos, MS holds the upper hand in our lives. Left untreated, the majority of the time MS is just like the house, and will win. Every once in a while I leave the casino as a winner, getting more back from the house than I put in, but that doesn’t happen very often and I certainly don’t count on it because the house has the upper hand. MS has that upper hand, too… taking a DMT is a gamble I’m willing to take, and it seems to be the best way I can increase my odds to beat the house of MS.

Wishing you well,

Laura

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