Dress The Heroes

20 JUST A FEW HICCUPS IN LIFE Craig Mainor C raig Mainor starts his days at 5:00 am so he can fit in an 8-mile walk before he goes to work. Twice a week he tops that off by riding his bike to his job, a 7-mile jaunt each way. He quietly affirms, “multiple sclerosis has not altered my life.” This isn’t what he expected when he was first diagnosed. He had gone for tests to find out what was causing his slow- er reaction time and the decreased dexterity in his left hand. Like so many MS patients, finding out he had MS hit him hard and was made worse by the professionals, working in a facility near his home in Union, who delivered the news. He remembers the day vividly. “The technician who did my MRI came in and said I had MS and didn’t offer me anything but bad news,” Craig said. “I still have the dried tear marks on my face.” Then the first neurologist he saw told him that he need- ed to quit his job as a sleep-away camp director because mobility was going to be an issue for him. The doctor said he should find a sedentary job. This recommendation convinced Craig and his wife to find another doctor. They researched experts in MS and found Dr. Mary Ann Picone, Medical Director of The Alfiero & Lucia Palestroni Foundation Multiple Sclerosis Center at Holy Name. “I liked Dr. Picone’s style and the way she communi- cated from the beginning,” Craig, 47, said. “She led me to believe I would be fine – there would be a few hiccups but nothing serious. And she was right.” Throughout his 17-year MS journey, Craig has been on a number of medications, from infusions to self-injections and oral therapies, to keep him in optimal health. He said Dr. Picone continuously evaluates his progress as well as his regressions and helps him make decisions about his care. “You can’t tell I have MS by looking at me,” Craig said. “My children, who are 17 and 10, know I have the disease but only because I told them. They would never know by any physical signs. You know the expression, move it or lose it. I purposely move more.” He did change jobs, but not because of his MS. Craig is the executive director of a non-profit in Newark. MS has never interfered with his career. He attributes much of his good health to the care from the MS Center. “If I call and say my fingers are numb or my one eye is blurry, it’s like the bat signal goes up and everyone goes into action to address it,” Craig said. “When I go to the MS Cen- ter, I feel like Norm on Cheers – everyone knows my name. Dr. Picone and her staff are the reason I drive an hour when I probably pass about four neurologists on the way that are qualified to treat me.” MS PATIENT STORY