Maret Asaro's feet flapped occasionally when she walked and she had some numbness in her legs and hands but she wasn't too concerned - she figured it was a pinched nerve somewhere. But one day while driving she lost her sight whenever she looked down.
As much as she wanted to ignore it, Maret knew she couldn't afford to brush off vision problems - she was a makeup artist working in television and needed her sight to be razor sharp. Two doctor visits later, her problem was diagnosed. At 35 years old, married and with a 10-year-old son, Maret had multiple sclerosis.
"When I got the news, I knew I had to be okay," Maret said. "I didn't have a choice in the matter. I had a son and I didn't have time to be sick. He was a boy, young, and active. I had to focus on my health to keep up with him."
Through recommendations, Maret found Dr. David Duncan, a neurologist with a focus in treating MS patients at Holy Name's MS Center, where he is also involved in clinical studies. Dr. Duncan said he hopes that by the time he retires, there will be a cure for MS.
Until then, the key to good treatment is for patients to have a team of providers that coordinate all aspects of care, led by a physician like Dr. Duncan, and access to the newest, most effective drugs available, all of which is provided at Holy Name.
"As soon as I met him, I saw the difference between a neurologist, and a neurologist who specializes in MS," Maret said. "Dr. Duncan looks at everything in my life - what I do, my exercise regimen, what I eat - and tells me when I'm not doing enough for myself. He doesn't just care about today - he's always looking into the future to see where your disease is going and to nip any problems in the bud."
Maret said she eats well, takes her medications, gets her rest, remains as active as possible, and alerts Dr. Duncan when something is amiss.
"Dr. Duncan found a team of doctors who take care of any problems that develop," Maret added. "And coming to Holy Name is so easy - the MS center offers comprehensive care, the parking is convenient, I don't have to wait long for my appointments and the people are great."
Nine years after being diagnosed, Maret participates in triathlons, has never missed a day of work due to her disease, and still keeps up with her now teenage son. She attributes a good part of her wellbeing to her steadfast husband, who encourages her to take walks and stay active when she's having a bad day.
"There are definitely good and bad days," Maret said. "But MS isn't the end of the world. It doesn't have to define you. Get a good doctor - and find what works for you."