Abu Dhabi, United
Arab Emirates. June 22, 2022:
After a decade of
seeing her balance deteriorate, a sister’s urge to get a second opinion for
ongoing health issues led to the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS), an
effective treatment, and a new lease of life.
is an autoimmune condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, and,
according to a scientific study conducted in the UAE, there is a growing incidence
of MS in the region.
Ameena had been
living with undiagnosed MS for many years, working as a school administrator, struggling
with organizational and clerical duties. Having already endured years of loss
of balance resulting in having to use a cane to walk, she had all but resigned
herself to her condition.
“It was about 10
years’ back, when I first observed some changes in my everyday movements. I
tried to distract myself and focus on my work as a school administrator; as long as I was busy, I was
okay,” she explains.
It came to a point
that she was unable to walk even 200 meters without assistance or asking her
colleagues for help. Even after seeking medical assistance, nothing seemed to
work. It was only when her sister recommended that she visit Cleveland Clinic
Abu Dhabi, a Mubadala Health partner, that she took her condition more seriously.
Dr. Anu Jacob, Director
of Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Neurology at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi,
“It was no surprise
to me that Ameena was not diagnosed, despite 10 years’ of symptoms. Not every
person with MS will have typical symptoms. Some will experience many seemingly
unrelated and bizarre health problems that confuse doctors. Importantly, not
every patient will be able to explain their symptoms to the doctors. Some patients
will just ignore symptoms or not seek help; they just cope with their difficulties.
But careful history-taking and attention to detail led us to the conclusion
that she may have MS, primarily in the spinal cord,” he says.
There are two
stages of the disease, namely relapsing and progressive. The relapsing stage lasts
for many years and has effective treatment options, but in the progressive
stage, the patient’s condition, especially mobility, gradually deteriorates and
becomes more difficult to treat.
history of symptoms and gradual deterioration made progressive MS more likely, but
I felt it important, particularly with the unclear past history, that we offer
her our best treatments,” he adds.
Convincing Ameena to
alter her course of treatment took some effort, but a cautionary note from the doctor,
saying: “You can decline the (new) treatment and expect the wheelchair to be your
best buddy, or commit to it and, if you are lucky, start running”, persuaded
her to start the new treatment. “I told the doctor, I don’t want to run, but I
want to fly!” she laughed.
Determined to make
this work, and to also make her dream of visiting the Expo 2020 Dubai and
covering all pavilions on foot a reality, Ameena committed to her new regime. She
is proud to say that she has fulfilled her dream: “It was something else, to be
able to walk without any support, any assistance. All of this has been made possible
by the caring staff at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi,” she says.
Jacob says in conclusion: “Ameena’s case is not an exception,
we regularly see patients who have delayed diagnosis of MS. People need to be aware
of the possibility of MS. We also need to believe that multiple sclerosis is
treatable and not a terminal illness.”
But he cautions: “Sometimes,
the opposite happens! Patients who do not have MS get labelled with MS and are
put on the wrong medicines. It is important to listen carefully to patients,
sift through the very many symptoms, and examine thoroughly before reaching a
conclusion. Our patients deserve personalized treatment.
“It is possible to live
a normal, or near normal, life with MS. I feel happiest when my MS patients
tell me that they had almost forgotten about their MS until the hospital reminded
them about their appointment with me!”
Sclerosis Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Neurological Institute takes
a ‘patient-first’ approach and is one of the largest and most comprehensive in
the region. The team’s mission is to work together with each patient and their
family to ensure accurate and timely diagnosis. A state-of-the-art treatment
plan and long-term management support are provided to each patient.
For more information on MS visit https://multiplesclerosis.clevelandclinicabudhabi.ae/
To book an
appointment at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, call 800 8 CCAD (2223) visit www.clevelandclinicabudhabi.ae or download the Cleveland
Clinic Abu Dhabi Patient Portal App.