My father was 31 years old, with seven young children, when our family
learned he had multiple sclerosis, to us then an unpronounceable, incomprehensible
disease. It soon became obvious, even to us kids, that something was seriously
One Christmas season several years later, Dad took all of us with him
when he drove downtown to pick up my mother just as the big department stores
were closing. The downtown streets were crowded with cars, the sidewalks with
shoppers. Mom was not at the pickup spot, so we circled the block. As he drove,
Dad's foot began jerking. The car leapt and bucked as he wrestled his unresponsive
foot between the accelerator and the brake pedal in heavy traffic. Zoom! Jerk!
Stop! It was like an amusement park ride. We kids thought it hilarious, until
we noticed that Dad was scared. He struggled to control the car, muttering,
"Mary, where the hell are you?" as he circled the block again and again. Finally,
Mom appeared on the curb with her shopping bags. That was the last time Dad
ever drove a car. He was 35 years old.
Bedinghaus JM. Family History. JAMA. 2003;289(2):142. doi:10.1001/jama.289.2.142