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‘I am in such a better place, and now I want to help others’

Before she knew she had multiple sclerosis, Eva Jackson hid her shaky limbs for fear it would compromise her career.

Now, she boldly embraces all things MS, even bedazzling her first cane.

“I am in such a better place, and now I want to help others,” said the National MS Society peer support leader in central Mississippi.

As a Black woman who struggled seven long years before being properly diagnosed, she’s determined to counter the dangerous delusion that Black people don’t get MS.

‘Climbing trees is over for me’

Jeff Merchant of Terry had been hunting some 47 years.

So on Nov. 4, he felt confident as he climbed to put new straps on a lock-on tree stand.

It was the proverbial pride before a fall.

“The top of the stand broke and pulled my feet off the section I was standing on,” he said. “I fell 19 feet.”

He landed standing up, dislocating both ankles and crushing his heels. Then he fell backwards atop his bow.

‘When you come here, they get to know you’

Amy DeGrado’s Benton farm is home to piglets, dogs, cats, goats, cows, ducks, bees, chickens and rabbits. It’s her happy place, and she enjoys the work it takes to tend to her animals.

“That’s my me time,” DeGrado said.

In January, a milking mishap interrupted her peaceful farm work. DeGrado bent to check a cow’s udder, which accidentally spooked her. A kick to DeGrado’s head caused a massive hemorrhage in her brain.

‘Now and then I forgot I have Parkinson’s’

As the executive director for International Outreach Ministries, Michael McCarty of Brandon helps support 101 missionaries in 22 countries around the world.

The job comes with plenty of travel, and McCarty has to routinely fly across continents.

But navigating a room full of people made him nervous.

“I had balance issues which made me prone to fall (or think I was falling) easily,” he said. A tumble after waking up disoriented and wobbly one night even left him with a dislocated rotator cuff in his left shoulder.

‘All the gear here blows my mind’

Fourteen years ago, Amanda Dove Wells watched her father-in-law fight back from a near fatal helicopter crash.

Larry Wells broke 12 ribs, his right femur, his sternum, pelvis, tailbone, wrists and upper arms, vertebra in his back and right shoulder blade. “He was never supposed to walk again,” Amanda said.

Yet by the time he finished therapy at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, he could even climb stairs. “We were talking about putting a ramp on the house, and the need went away,” said his wife, Donna.

‘Best thing I did for myself’

By any measure, Michelle Davies-Brown knew her left knee needed fixing.

The Jackson resident could barely walk. Was prone to falls. And on a 1 to 10 scale, she put her pain at 10-plus.

“I would come to work with a brace on my knee, and security staff would have to come pick me up,” said the admissions clerk at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson. “Some days, I couldn’t even walk to a patient’s room.”

Christy Byrd named Methodist Specialty Care Center administrator

Registered nurse Christy Byrd of Brandon is the new administrator at Methodist Specialty Care Center in Flowood.

Since 2018, Byrd has been assistant administrator for the 60-bed care facility, which is the first in Mississippi designed especially for younger, severely disabled residents.

Byrd’s degrees include a bachelor of science in biological sciences and a bachelor of science in nursing. Before earning a Nursing Home Administrator’s license in 2018, she completed an Administrator in Training Program via the Mississippi State Board of Nursing Home Administrators.

Parkinson’s therapy keeps Jackson architect active at work and with family

When Tim Taylor’s grandkids tell him to “take big steps,” they’re not asking him to hurry.

Instead, they’re helping their “Pepo” practice LSVT BIG. The innovative exercise program helps Parkinson’s disease patients stay active by addressing problems with walking speed, balance and trunk rotation.

The 65-year-old practicing Jackson architect was diagnosed with the movement disorder six years ago. At the time, he was somewhat oblivious to symptoms such as unusual arm movements and difficulty walking.


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