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Deborah Bruers’ life has never been busier caring for her three young boys. But despite her hectic schedule there is one thing Bruers cannot afford to stop managing: multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease she was diagnosed with after the birth of her first son.
An unpredictable and often disabling disease of the central nervous system, MS disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. This chronic disease is three times more common in women than in men.
Seeing the Signs “For several years, my vision was blurry, but no one could diagnose the cause or treat it effectively,” recalled the 33-year-old Grayslake resident. Frustrated with her ongoing vision issues, in 2012 Bruers made an appointment with NorthShore-affiliated Ophthalmologist Andrew Berman, MD, who ordered an MRI and noted a thinning of her optic nerves due to inflammation. He immediately suspected MS and referred her to NorthShore Neurological Institute Neurologist Susan Rubin, MD.
Dr. Rubin specializes in women’s neurologic health issues, providing patients with the most up-to-date information and treatments to manage MS—especially before, during and after pregnancy.
“Further tests revealed the telltale lesions, or spots typical of MS,” explained Dr. Rubin, who holds an academic appointment at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. “Although pregnancy may actually reduce symptoms, patients can have flare-ups during the postpartum months. These symptoms can include weakness, tingling or numbness in an arm or leg, vision loss or incoordination.”
“Being diagnosed with MS came out of the blue,” said Bruers. “I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster—and I had a new baby to care for!”
World-Class Care “We started Deborah on intermittent steroids which is a safe treatment while she was breastfeeding, and then switched her to an immunomodulating medication, which works with her own immune system to keep symptoms under control,” noted Dr. Rubin.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has designated NorthShore as a Center for Comprehensive and Coordinated MS Care. This gives patients like Bruers access to a full array of medical, psychosocial and rehabilitation services. Patients also benefit from new MS treatment options as they become available.
“When my husband and I wanted to have more children, Dr. Rubin provided excellent pre-pregnancy counseling and cared for me during and after each of my pregnancies,” added Bruers, who uses the NorthShoreConnect mobile app to manage her care on the go, including refilling prescriptions and scheduling follow-up appointments from her smartphone.
“Although it isn’t easy living with a disease like MS, my sons keep me going. I’m so grateful for my strong faith, and my husband and family who help me get through this every day.”