When a person gets a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, it can be a life-changing event. The disease may not be disabling in its early stages, but it is often disabling as it progresses, and it is included on the list of conditions eligible for Social Security disability benefits when certain symptoms exist.
What happens in a person with MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is that the body's own immune system begins to attack the central nervous system. Heredity is believed to be a major factor in determining if a person might develop MS, and a combination of environmental factors are thought to trigger symptoms.
Symptoms may be severe, such as paralysis or vision loss. Mild symptoms might consist of numbness in a limb.
That seems to have been the telltale that prompted NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne to get himself checked out. The 22-year-old racing star became sidelined for a two-month period, apparently last year, after experiencing numbness in his arm during a race in Texas.
Following that episode, Bayne began to make regular trips to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for checkups. At times he had symptoms of blurred vision, unexplained fatigue and nausea. This past summer, doctors finally came back with the diagnosis of MS.
The certainty of his condition doesn't mean Bayne will stop driving. He's still on the course and the head of the Roush Fenway Racing team Bayne drives for says that isn't expected to change.
Bayne notes that doctors have cleared him for competition and he says he isn't taking any medication. Bayne has a younger sister who also has been diagnosed with MS.
Source: USAToday.com, "Trevor Bayne has MS but will continue to race in NASCAR," Nate Ryan, Nov. 12, 2013