feb 15 Heuga center teaches ways to live with disease

February 12, 1999

Dave FlukeBy MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Two area residents who participated in Jimmie Heuga clinics came away with different programs for living with multiple sclerosis but also learned the same lesson: conserving energy is crucial.

[cont. from lifestyle]

Dave Fluke of Falling Waters, W.Va., went to Collingwood, Ontario, in June 1998 for The Jimmie Heuga Center's first clinic in Canada. He was given a scholarship to participate through Jimmie Heuga Snow Express for MS at Whitetail Ski Resort.

Fluke, 46, was diagnosed with the neurological disease in November 1997. He was struggling with dizziness, but it wasn't until someone pointed out that one of his feet was dragging in a running segment of a triathalon that he knew something was really wrong.


Fluke is an avid athlete who swims, bikes, runs and skis, both downhill and cross-country. He also was a member of the U.S. Whitewater Team for two years.

"You name it, I did it," says Fluke, who works for Maryland Department of the Environment.

At the Heuga clinic, which he attended with his parents, he was told he had to be easier on his body.

"The big thing they told me was to slow down on my exercise," Fluke says.

He has cut his workouts down to 20 or 30 minutes at a time. If he overdoes it, it may take him two to three weeks to recover.

In the 4 1/2 days he was in Canada, he participated in several new kinds of exercise and had every joint and muscle analyzed. These experiences taught him where his body's weaknesses were, including his left leg and hip muscles.

He tried chair aerobics and aquatic exercises. He continued with the latter last summer in the Potomac River.

Fluke says he feels fortunate to stay active.

"I look at other people and I feel very thankful. I'm one of the lucky ones," Fluke says.

'Prescription for life'

"Heuga has taught me I can beat this," says Karen Modell of Rockville, Md. She traveled in November 1998 to Mesa, Ariz., for a Heuga clinic.

While driving down Interstate 270 one day, Modell noticed what appeared to be a smudge on her glasses. It wouldn't come off, so she switched glasses. The smudge was still there.

After a visit to an ophthalmologist, an MRI was recommended, which revealed in April 1997 that Modell, now 36, has MS.

The clinic, which she attended with her husband, was packed with activities and lectures for participants and their supporters. A staff composed primarily of volunteers consisted of psychologists, neurologists, urologists, nurses and physical therapists, among others.

Those with MS were busy with neurological exams, stress tests, exercise classes and balance and gait analysis. Their loved ones learned how to care for themselves and how to tend to the needs of those with MS without fostering a dependency.

On the last day, the participants with MS were given a program to follow that Modell calls "a prescription for life."

"They teach MS patients what they can do with their lives rather than what they can't do," Modell says

"Their whole philosophy gave me so much energy," says Modell, an attorney and mother of two daughters, ages 3 1/2 and 5.

That energy, she learned, must be used sparingly to prevent fatigue. If overextended, Modell risks having flare-ups.

Jimmie Heuga's Snow Express for MS

  • When: Friday, Feb. 19. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.; racing begins at 10 a.m.
  • Where: Whitetail Ski Resort, Mercersburg, Pa.
  • Details: Teams of three must raise at least $1,000 and turn in money on race day.
  • For information: 1-717-328-9400, ext. 125, or 1-703-968-7076.

related stories:

-- Chronic ailment affects the central nervous system

-- Local multiple sclerosis clinics beginning

-- Ski challenge to benefit those challenged by MS

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