JoAnne Eliceche Coulston's battle with MS
Although life has changed drastically VM , for JoAnne and Hal Coulston, the one thing that has not changed - - is their love for each other. THE FRESNO GONHWORARY Sunday, Nov. 18,1973 Page Jl - J This article was written for The Fresno Bee by Vbnnie Sfurgeon and Larry Creefcmore. Hal Coulston shares the events of his day with his wife JoAnne. Bee Photo by Kalph Thronebcry Young Fresno Couple Fights MS Together Ask JoAnne Eliceche Coulston about living life to the fullest. She 'might tell you of her busy years at Fresno High School where she was a champion swimmer. She might tell you what it means to become an accomplished pianist or talented dancer after years of practice. She would surely mention the hustle and bustle of her college years at Fresno State University. The parties, the dances, the long hours of study.' The companionship she found with her Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters and ;he day Hal Coulston, her ' high school sweetheart, asked her to marry him. But JoAnne cannottalk about these good times. She has lost the ability to speak along with the'ability to.per- form even the smallest task for herself. JoAnne has multiple sclerosis. Her body, once filled with laughter and movement, is imprisoned in a reclin- Â·ing position. And it all happened within a span of eight years. ' The first symptoms of MS, a disease of the central nervous system, appeared in 1!)B5 when JoAnne and her husband were living in Pennsylvania. After 22 years of good health, JoAnne noticed a tingling sensation in her hands and feet and started to feel unusually weak. These symptoms were diagnosed as anemia but failed to go away with treatment. i Then came a bout with double vision and Bell's Palsy, which paralyzed one side of JoAnne's'face for a time. Finally her condition was diagnosed as multiple sclerosis. At firsl the news did not alarm the Coulstons, primarily because . they knew liltle about the disease. Hal was studying at the University of Pennsylvania Dental School and J o A n n e was working as a medical statistician. Then the future darkened. Over a period of months JoAnne gradually weakened. Several hospital sessions with ACTH, an intravenous treatment which brings about remission in some MS patients, did not help. In 1968 Ihe couple moved to San Diego where Hal became a Navy dentist. By that time;Jp_Anne's condition had deteriorated" to the point where she had to use a-'s'pecially designed "standing wheelchair," built for her by Hal's Navy buddies, to keep her from falling. When Hal got out of the Navy in 1970 the couple r e t u r n e d to Fresno. JoAnne continued to lose coordina- lion and strength. MS was taking its loll. A low point came one day when Hal returned from work to f i n d his wife in a crumpled heap near the front door, loo weak to move. She no longer could be left alone. * "It was emotionally crushing to us both," said Hal. "About all she had to keep her going was her competitive spirit." ...... Sjnce Uien JoAnne has .been jn.the care of Mrs. Julia McMaslers. She is completely immobile and the biggest fear of those who care for her is that she may choke on her pureed meals. A suction machine and an emergency tracheotomy device arc kept nearby, just incase. A l t h o u g h l i f e has changed drastically for JoAnne and Hal Coulston, the one thing t h a t hns not changed, said Hal, is their love for each other. Whal hurts the most, lie said, is t h a t people -- even close friends and relatives -- scenY estranged froin I hem now. Perhaps if h u r t s them sfc Jn Anne in such poor condition, notefl. "MS patienis desperately need companionship, f r i e n d s h i p and encouragement," he said. "It's so important to keep a friendship alive." JoAnne's Day December 1 has been designated as .InAnne Kliccche Coulston Day by the Kappa Kappa G a m m a .sorority which will turn over all die proceeds'frdnr ' ils Christmas Cook's Tour for nuilli- ple sclerosis rcseaiTii. The a n n u a l event will be held 1--1 p.m..in the homes of the W.M. Lyles, Mrs. Laurie Church and Mrs. Maynard Munger. Tickets, priced at Â§2.50 a person, may he obtained by telephoning Joel Vaughan at 222-2884 or Sally liledsoe at 439-9162.