Michaele Salahie: “I’m not an anorexic…I have multiple sclerosis”

Real Housewife of DC, and alleged White House party crasher, Michaele Salahie has revealed the she is suffering from multiple sclerosis. In a new book, written by Diane Dimond, called Cirque du Salahi, Salahie,44, admitted that she has been hiding her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis for the past 17 years. Salahi told People magazine, “No one wants to be seen as sickly… and I didn’t want to be pitied.” Salahi told Fox News that “There was a time when I couldn’t get out of a bed and walk. My family had to feed me soup because I couldn’t even lift my arm.”

There had been recent speculation that the controversial celebrity is anorexic when she seemed “wafer-thin” at the  premiere of her Bravo reality show last month.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease. The fatty substance (myelin) that surrounds and protects the nerve fibers in the central nervous system is attacked by a patient’s own immune system damaging them and forming scar tissue (sclerosis). This can happen in multiple locations in the brain or along the spinal cord, hence the name multiple sclerosis. Nerve impulses traveling anywhere to or from the brain and spinal cord are then disrupted, resulting in a person displaying symptoms ranging from fatigue, numbness, tingling, blurred vision to lack of coordination and paralysis. Since these symptoms are not specific to MS, and may wax and wane over time in any patient, it is often difficult to make the diagnosis.

Most people experience their first symptoms of MS between the ages of 20 and 40; the initial symptom of MS is often blurred or double vision, red-green color distortion, or even blindness in one eye.  Most MS patients experience muscle weakness in their extremities and difficulty with coordination and balance.  These symptoms may be severe enough to impair walking or even standing. In the worst cases, MS can produce partial or complete paralysis.  Most people with MS also exhibit paresthesias- temporary abnormal sensory feelings such as numbness, prickling, or “pins and needles” sensations.  Some may also experience pain.  Speech impediments, tremors, and dizziness are other frequent complaints. Occasionally, people with MS have hearing loss. Approximately half of all people with MS experience cognitive impairments such as difficulties with concentration, attention, memory, and poor judgment, but such symptoms are usually mild and are frequently overlooked.  Depression is another common feature of MS.

There is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis, however there are some medications that can improve the symptoms. We will review this topic in a future blog.

For more information, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on Multiple Sclerosis.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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