The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

April 5, 2014

'I'm at peace with it'

CLINTON — Almost 20 years ago, when Greg Fier was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he did not know how to handle it. While his condition had deteriorated since that 1995 diagnosis, he continues to have a positive attitude.

“I’ve accepted it. I’m at peace with it,” Greg said. “Don’t feel bad for me, I’m the lucky one.”

Greg’s diagnosis came after he noticed an odd tingling sensation. Whenever he would bend his neck downward while sitting, a jolt of electricity would go through his body. He thought he might be having back problems, until he started having numbness in the palms of his hands.

In 1994, Greg visited his doctor, complaining about weakness in his arms. Listening to the complaints, his doctor began talking about MS and other conditions.

“And you’re just hearing this thinking, ‘yeah, it’s not me,’” Greg said.

He soon learned that he did have MS.

For the first five years he was basically symptomatic. After that, his condition fell into a “relapsing and remitting” pattern, where the symptoms would come and go. Drug treatments did not work for him either.

“I would take three steps back and two steps forward,” Greg said.

Now at 52 years old, Greg spends most of his days in his home, in a wheelchair. He has minimal control in his arms and hands and uses his voice and head movements for most tasks.

He spends much of his energy ensuring that he and others like him, continue to have some autonomy and freedom through technology.

“You hate to ask someone for every little thing,” Greg said.

A few years ago, Greg and a friend Dave Layton funded a group, Bob’s Assistive Technology (BAT) Fund, to get a laptop for their friend Bob Finch. Since then they have worked to provide other forms of technology to help them deal with MS and other conditions.

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