Living with Multiple Sclerosis

elaine-mooreBY AMANDA MOSES

Longtime Spring Creek Towers’ (SCT) resident, Elaine Moore has always been the picture of health. She’s physically active, exercises frequently at the Brooklyn Sports Club (BSC), loves to eat healthy, and volunteers her time helping others and making people smile. However, about ten years ago, Elaine was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a debilitating and incurable disease that slowly eats away at the body’s nerves. According to the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education, multiple sclerosis causes nerve damage, disrupting the communication between the brain and the body.

Although the disease has drastically affected Moore’s active lifestyle, she does not let this illness define her. The 75-year-old health buff vividly remembers the day she realized something was wrong. It was 2006, and even at 65 years old Moore had a daily exercise regiment that included walking several miles around a running track. “While I was walking, I suddenly had to slow down because my legs felt heavy,” Moore said. She immediately met with a doctor who conducted several neurological tests, and then came to the conclusion that her nervous system was deteriorating because of multiple sclerosis. “My entire right side was slowly becoming numb, becoming weaker,” she said solemnly. “At first, I just cried. I cried, and cried and cried. The things I love to do, walking around New York City, shopping, traveling from place to place, I couldn’t do that anymore. I couldn’t do the things I loved. It was devastating,” Moore said.

Around the same time Moore was diagnosed, she was dating a lovely gentleman named William. “I thought that not only would I not be able to do the things I loved, but I was afraid he would leave me. I was wrong, he has stood by my side everyday since then, helping me, caring for me and loving me,” she said proudly. After some time Moore wiped her tears, gathered her courage and the love she received from William, her family and friends, and decided to fight this disease. There may not be a cure, but Moore was not willing to let this illness stop her from being active.

She got a cane and began slowly walking around the SCT community. Then with the help of home-care and her family, she got a walker and continues to shop, go to parties and visit friends. Although much of Moore’s family live in Washington, DC (where she was born), they hold many annual reunions so that she can see her two daughters, son, ten grand-children, and four great-grand-children. Moore’s favorite family activity is telling everyone how SCT has flourished over the years.

In addition to being the life of family parties, she prides herself on looking her best, and enjoys walking to the Spring Creek Shopping Center to get her nails and hair done like a beautiful queen. “I don’t walk as much, and I can’t walk on the track or take cycling classes like I used to, but I manage,” she said. Moore is still a member of the BSC, and exercises four times a week for two hours. Many members at the BSC know Moore as the “woman who never ages” because of her lively personality and dashing good looks.

Despite Moore’s steadfast determination, there are days when the symptoms become unbearable. The illness causes pain in her back, tingling pain throughout her body, fatigue, dizziness, slurred speech and prolonged double vision. She has undergone two surgeries to repair her double vision, and soon she will see a doctor for a third procedure to remove her cataracts. The battle for her health is ever constant, but her continued per-severance has caught the eye of her neighbors.

“Elaine is a fighter and still attends the gym when she can. Her motto is ‘I have MS but MS doesn’t have me,’” said Yvette Grant, Brooklyn Reading Council’s (BRC) board member, who admires Moore’s kindhearted nature. She believes Moore has always been an instrumental part of the community since SCT was first built. “Elaine has been there for busy parents as they rushed off to work, college and professional training that demanded their time to make a better life for themselves and their families. Elaine provided quality child-care; nurturing and assisting many neighborhood children before the expanded early learning facilities and popular pre-kindergarten programs became as accessible as they are today,” Grant said referring to the Starrett Early Learning Center, which was established in 1976.

Over the course of the past ten years coping with multiple sclerosis, Moore has inspired many residents to never give up, and to always smile. She has found that just because you hit a few bumps in the road, it doesn’t mean that you’ve hit a dead end. Moore believes that life has its many detours and we just need to keep on moving. Keep walking, and stay active. Grant thinks that others could benefit from Moore’s positive predisposition stating, “Elaine continues to live by example with enthusiasm, without letting challenges stop her in her tracks.”

Photos courtsey of Yvette Grant