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Karen Langford

MS May Slow Her Down, But It's Not Stopping Her

Holy Name MS Center - Karen Langford

Karen Langford has been living with multiple sclerosis for so long that back when she first developed vision problems her doctors thought she had an eye disease caused by exposure to birds on a farm. To those physicians, it didn't matter that she grew up in a city and the only interaction she had with any animals was viewing the pigeons perched high above crowded streets.

Eventually, she was correctly diagnosed, years after she had been doing her own research and realized she had MS. But even when doctors knew what disease was causing Karen's catalog of symptoms – seeing sunny days through a gray film, losing her eyesight completely for a week at a time, severe vomiting, vertigo, and dragging her left leg – she wasn't always given the best course of treatment.

Now that Karen is seeing Dr. Mary Ann Picone, Medical Director at Holy Name Medical Center's MS Center, she receives personalized care that addresses her particular symptoms. Specifically, Dr. Picone checks her vision and gait on each visit. Karen also has access to comprehensive services including the latest clinical trials for MS. She said the collaborative effort between the physicians, nurses and staff at the MS Center makes her confident she is receiving the best care available.

"Dr. Picone listens to me," Karen said. "She talks to me, not at me and recognizes I know what's going on in my body. She doesn't let me get away with being lazy about coming in for appointments and makes sure I'm doing all I can to stay healthy. She is also always up on the newest studies."

Through the 40 years Karen has been living with MS, she worked in sales, married and raised two children with her husband David. They moved to several states because of David's job in college athletics, weathered emergency room visits and times of blindness while caring for two children, one still a toddler. She has also raised $10,000 for MS and volunteers on several community boards.

Karen, who lives in Teaneck, believes her own aggressive stance against the disease and her MS support group, in partnership with the care she is receiving from Dr. Picone and the MS Center, have helped keep her out of a wheelchair. She uses a walker or a cane, depending on how much walking is required, and only relies on a wheelchair for lengthy jaunts.

"I go to physical therapy, sometimes occupation therapy and exercise with other people who have MS," Karen said. "I also have a very positive attitude – nothing is going to stop me from living my life. Yes, MS may slow me down but I'm not stopping. That and Dr. Picone's treatment are keeping me healthy."

Learn more about MS Center at Holy Name