Jay Fitzgerald, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gaming for MS, was born September 11th, 1971. Jay is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Navy and served during the Gulf War. Being a huge Patriot, Jay was, and still is, saddened and devastated by the actions that occurred in New York and Pennsylvania on 9/11 2001. In whaterver spare/free time he can find, Jay is an avid PC gamer. From first person shooters like Quake and team-based games like Counter-Strike to MMORPG's like World of Warcraft, Jay will try just about any game once.
Jay was diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (or RRMS) on Thursday, September 6, 2012. Let me catch you up on how this came to be.
10 years ago, on or around 2002, Jay made a trip to the eye doctor for a routine eye-exam and to get new glasses. During the exam, the Optometrist said she noticed some irregularities and had an Ophthalmologist come in and do an Ophthalmoscopy and a field of vision test. After the test, the doctor said he saw something unusual but wouldn't tell me what and he wanted Jay to have an MRI. Two or 3 days later, Jay went and had his MRI and followed-up with the eye doctor. The doctor stated that there were 4 lesions on Jay's brain and that he had Optic Neuritis and admitted Jay to the hospital for a continuous IV of the steroid methylprednisolone. Jay was started on 1g of steroids each day and was tapered off during his stay. He was in the hosital for 1 week.
When he was released, Jay began a months supply of decreasing oral doses of the same steroid and was to see a neurologist. Two weeks later, he started seeing a neurologist who also confirmed his diagnosis of Optic Neuritis and said that it was a primary indication that Jay could have Multiple Sclerosis. She ordered another MRI 3 months later. After having this second MRI, she notified Jay that the lesions were gone. It wasn't until later that he learned that lesions never go away, they only scar over; this is the sclerosis part of MS. Jay was NOT formally diagnosed with MS back then, only told verbally that it was possible.
Between 2002 and 2012 he didn't have any other symptoms. Jay was in remission. He continued to work full time and as a hobby, he continued to play video games online with friends every night after work and on weekends. Jay also went to and helped organize a few weekend gaming events called LANParties. This is where everyone who attends brings their own computer and they all connect to a local internal network and play video games for several days straight.
10 years later in 2012, around mid-August, Jay's left eye began to twitch randomly and uncontrollably throughout the day. Jay also has a lazy right eye which he has had since birth but it wasn't affected. He didn't think anything of it at the time. Jay thought it was just stress and from being tired. A week later, his right thumb and and right big toe began to tingle and each were slightly numb. The sensation wasn't painful, but very annoying. It felt similar to if you were barefoot on concrete and just slowly rubbed your thumb or toe across the concrete. Jay still did not think anything of this.
It soon started to get to him. Jay started wondering why these symptoms weren't going away. He started having really bad headaches, worse than usual. So, he made an appointment with his family doctor. Jay told him of his previous diagnosis of Optic Neuritis 10 years ago and the doctor stated that all of Jay's symptoms were probably related to high blood pressure. At the time, Jay's ex-wife told the doctor and insisted that Jay's symptoms weren't being caused by that and that the symptoms began while his BP was under control with current medications. The doctor told her that IF we wanted him to schedule an MRI, then he would do so. She told him to and he did.
The next morning, Jay went to have his MRI. That afternoon, he went for a follow-up with his family doctor. The doctor told Jay that there were 3 more NEW lesions on his brain. Jay told his doctor what treatment he had 10 years ago and the doctor agreed. He scheduled Jay to see another neurologist which was a months time away.
That Thursday morning, Jay woke up and his vision was extremely blurred and he had partial double vision. It wasn't until Jay was "attempting" to drive to work and he could have swore that a truck was heading straight for him that he knew something was wrong. Jay called his boss and told him what was going on and that he was going to the doctor. Jay's right forearm and right leg were also slightly numb. Jay called his ex-wife and she called their family doctor and he admitted Jay to the hospital that afternoon.
Once in the hospital, they began another IV drip of constant steroids and Jay's symptoms began to dissipate. Jay was finally given a confirmed diagnosis that he definitely had Multiple Sclerosis. Jay isn't sure what else happened during the hospital stay this time, but he was told that he went into steroid psychosis. He broke down and lost it the night the doctor told him.
Multiple Sclerosis is not a curable disease, yet. There are several medications and treatments available but only to slow down the progression and to try and prevent flare-ups. Medications and treatments range from several different oral medications to daily, weekly, and monthly injections. In severe cases, people may also undergo steroid treatments and/or plasma exchange. ALL the medications and treatments may cause side effects ranging from mood swings, weight gain, and flushing of the skin to chest pains and liver damage. One of the medications may even cause PML, a brain infection that is usually fatal. ALL the medications also cause an increased risk of infections such as a cold, but the one everyone tries to avoid is Pneumonia.
The medication Jay is on is called Tecfidera (Interferon Beta-1a). Tecfidera is a twice daily pill. The main side affect from Tecfidera is flu-like symptoms. In order to prevent this, Jay pre-medicates with lots of water the day before and the day of and he also has to take 2 Ibuprofen at least an hour prior to the taking his medicine. If he doesn't do either of these then about 2 hours after the shot, he starts getting a high fever, usually around 101°. Many people think those with Multiple Sclerosis are imagining the fever-like symptoms, but this is a literal temperature with a thermometer. Jay also gets extreme chills, muscle aches and sometimes a migraine.
Tecfidera is shipped to Jay once a month and includes a 30-day supply. The retail cost of each shipment is approximately $5,000. Jay's insurance is soo kind that it pays 75% of this, leaving him with a $1,250 a month prescription bill. Luckily there are programs available to help with this.
Multiple Sclerosis acts differently in each person. Some people may be less mobile than others, and some people may have hidden affects. The only way you would know something is wrong with Jay would be if he told you. The main way MS is affecting him, at least right now, is his memory. He has had several active lesions on his brain since he was diagnosed in 2012. An active lesion is one that has not scarred over yet. Jay has noticed a slow deterioration in remembering things. If you tell him something important, make certain to tell him at least 4 times and ask him to repeat it to you. Otherwise, there's a good chance that he will forget. It doesn't happen all the time, but he is noticing a change.
So, now that you know a little about Jay and his MS... Jay decided in early 2013 to do something and not let MS win. He wanted to find a way to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. After thinking about it for a couple of days, it dawned on him - why not have stream video games on Twitch.tv to raise funds for MS research. That's why he founded Gaming for MS, as a way to help find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. Jay's ultimate goal is to hold an annual fundraiser for MS awareness. The fundraiser, in the form of a LANParty and gaming expo, known as AdrenaLAN, will be held in the immediate Cincinnati Ohio area. The goal is to raise $20,000 from attendee registrations which will then be split evenly between the National MS Society and the MSAA.