An NHL star and member of the 2015 Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks has retired after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and attempting a come-back at the end of the season. The 30-year-old Bryan Bickell, who retired from the NHL Carolina Hurricanes, had health issues going back to his time with the Blackhawks. The Hurricanes announced his MS diagnosis on November 11, 2016 shocking players and fans.
He retired but left on a high note. On April 9, 2017, he scored on a shootout as the Hurricanes beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. His teammates wore his number 29 in their final two regular season games in his honor. See CNN story here.
Multiple sclerosis is a rare disease that affects the central nervous system, with symptoms varying from case to case but eventually leading to nerve damage and physical impairment. There is no known cure. Many people with MS end up requiring help with normal activities of daily living (ADL’s) and requiring them to need extended care with those ADL’s.
"Since the 2015 playoffs, I've been struggling to understand what was going on with my body. Again during the past few weeks, it felt like something wasn't right," said Bickell.
"Obviously, this is a bit of shock for my family and me,” he said.
MS is a “spectrum disease" that can present mild to disabling symptoms in different patients. Life expectancy is near normal, however, the impact on independence generally is the biggest concern.
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) tend to have their first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 40. Usually, the symptoms get better, but then come back. Some may come and go, while others linger.
The early symptoms of MS include:
Blurred or double vision
Clumsiness or a lack of coordination
Loss of balance
Weakness in an arm or leg
No two people have the same symptoms of MS. This can make a diagnosis more difficult especially early in the disease. People with MS often say they feel a "pins and needles" sensation. They may also have numbness, itching, burning, stabbing, or tearing pains. About half of people with MS have these uncomfortable symptoms.
About 8 in 10 people have bladder problems as well. A person may need to urinate more often, need to go at night, or have trouble emptying your bladder fully. Bowel problems, especially constipation, are also common.
Mobility issues end up being the main reason people with MS need Long Term Care. MS can cause muscle weakness or spasms, which make it more difficult to walk. Balance problems, numb feet, and fatigue can also make walking more difficult. Often people with MS may suffer from falls especially as they get older and the MS progresses.
The cost of the custodial care for a person with MS can be high. As it progresses a person may need home-care in addition to any care a family member may provide. As a person ages, it becomes very difficult for family members to be caregivers. Generally, a person will move into a facility like assisted living or, in extreme situations, a nursing home. Health insurance and later, once a person is 65, Medicare, will not pay for most of these costs.
The financial costs and burdens placed on family can negatively impact a family. The consequences of a Long Term Care event, caused by MS, other diseases, accidents or just aging impact a family’s assets and income in addition to create emotional and physical burdens on those you love.
Since these health events can happen at any age having a plan which includes Long Term Care Insurance is an affordable way to safeguard your 401k, IRA and other savings while easing the burden on family.
Most people are not professional athletes who have substantial savings and investments. However, even those who do could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars unless a plan is in place.