CNN's chief national correspondent, John King, revealed on his show "Inside Politics" that he has multiple sclerosis.
"It is a secret I have kept for a long time except for a very few people," he explained.
The 58-year-old King decided to tell the world about his health condition due to the debate on the COVID-19 vaccine. He said that he is taking extra safety precautions himself during the pandemic.
King has relapsing-remitting MS, the most common disease course, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. His medication attempts to slow the progression of the disease.
While he says he considers himself "lucky," he still has days where the MS is "very frustrating." He says he is lucky and blessed but is concerned for others not as fortunate as he has been.
"Mine has progressed very slowly due to great medications, thanks to great doctors, but others are not so lucky," King said.
The revelation came out on his CNN show during a conversation about former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his recent passing due to existing health issues and COVID-19. Although Powell was vaccinated, he still contracted COVID-19 due to his age and history of multiple myeloma, a cancer of white blood cells, which harm the body's immune system. King has since discussed his MS on other programs on CNN and other networks.
King used his health history to show the importance of wearing a mask and being vaccinated.
King told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he has had problems since the days of the Clinton administration, he was formally diagnosis several years later.
"Today I'm having a problem with my hands. I have not been able to really have full sensation in my legs since late in the Clinton administration. There are some days this knocks me on my you know what, there are other days it's just a little nagging," King said.
King Experiences Falls and Even Brain Fog Due to MS
He has had falls on occasion and even brain fog, among other symptoms. This week leading up to the election was one of his worst weeks and problems functioning.
"I hope nobody noticed it, but election week in America was probably one of my worst weeks last year," King said.
Over One Million People in U.S. with MS – More Diagnosed Every Year
There are over 200,000 new diagnoses of MS every year. MS is a disease affecting the central nervous system where the immune system attacks the myelin, the protective layer around nerve fibers, and causes inflammation and lesions. MS makes it harder for the brain to send signals to the body.
The disease affects more women than men and generally is first diagnosed in adults ages 18 to 55. MS is often disabling, requiring the individual to need help with daily living activities. The required care catches many families off guard since health insurance does not cover the necessary custodial care that a person with MS might require as the condition progresses. Younger people often will not own Long-Term Care Insurance, so self-funding care or families step in to provide the necessary help.
MS is unpredictable. The specific symptoms, progress, and severity vary among people with MS. Doctors cannot guess how a person will progress with the disease.
MS and Dementia
While brain fog can be common for people with MS dementia can become a possibility as well. There are some people with MS that have dementia which with MS is caused by the lesions growing on the brain throughout the disease's progression. Over time, the damage to the nervous system can also cause dementia.
John King joins a list of other celebrities who have lived with MS. Comedian Richard Pryor received an MS diagnosis in 1986. Walter Williams, a founding member of the music group The O'Jays, has been living with MS since 1983. Country music star Clay Walker, actress Selma Blair, actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, talk show, Montel Williams, and Ann Romney (Senator Mitt Romney's spouse) all have MS.
There are medications available to treat MS, and these medications focus on controlling the immune system and managing symptoms. Plus, physical therapy can be used to help with walking difficulties and muscle stiffness, occupational therapy for tremors, and a cooling vest for heat sensitivity.
Long-term health care for those with more progressed MS is often paid through Medicaid when a person has little or no assets or no Long-Term Care Insurance policy in place. Health insurance and Medicare pay little or nothing toward extended care.
Long-Term Care Insurance is rarely available for purchase after an MS diagnosis. Always check with a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist as there may be some products available in some situations with short-term care products or asset-based products.
About the Author
Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.
Contributor since October 31st, 2017
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