Memories of St Patrick’s Day 1967 by Eva Marsh

On St Patrick’s Day more than fifty years ago, I woke up immobile from the neck down. Doctors diagnosed multiple sclerosis and told me recovery was impossible, to get my affairs in order, I didn’t have long. But I fussed and maneuvered until I fell on the floor where I dragged myself in a crawl until my body started to listen to me.
Three months later I returned to work as a junior laboratory technician at the Ontario Veterinary College, Guelph Ontario. I spent my lunchtime in the library looking for research on healing, with researchers nearby to explain the significance of animal research in the scheme of human medicine.
Soon I found an article with full colour electron microscope photographs proving that damage to the myelin covering of nerves in the spinal cord heals with movement (Bunge et al, 1961). It can be argued that untrained, I could not possibly understand; however, in my ignorance I read research literally.
I learned about undifferentiated cells that float through the body, waiting for instructions to become cells required for repair and maintenance. The instructions arise from the effort to engage in customary activities! Today these cells are named stem, and research isn’t sure how they work!
In an embryology text I read how during development, the white matter or myelin, in the motor part of the spinal cord, develops as the brain assumes control over basic reflexes, such as the fetus kicking. In other words, movement promotes formation of myelin!
In the 21st Century we are excited by neuroplasticity and healing, but no one seems to know how this process can be initiated. As long as we believe that we cannot move, the body has no directions for healing. Where is evidence-based medicine when you need it?
After waiting twenty years for the system to apply this research, I wrote about my experience of recovery in, Black Patent Shoes Dancing With MS © 1989. I continue to follow research and am amazed at the number of times others try to take credit for being first to prove myelin can repair itself.
How much evidence do we need? Since I found Mary Bunge’s research in 1967, I didn’t worry about my future.  I I found explanations in Samson Wright’s Applied Physiology (1961) 10th Ed.  Revised by Cyril A. Keele and Eric Neil. Oxford Universiry Press. London New York Toronto.

I knew no matter what happened, I could always recover. I am now 75, and fully mobile, and I intend to dance til the day I die.

Diagnosed in 1967 at age 22, Eva Marsh found evidence that recovery is possible and did not accept what the system had to offer.

As a single parent she has raised her two children, completed degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering, done Neuroscience research and worked in industry as a Computer Systems Analyst.

Eva has spoken to many about her life experience and the research that enabled her to recover and live life as she chooses. She continues to follow research with a wary eye in her search for constructive information.

  • Organizer 2005 1st Ever MS Recovery Roundtable
  • McMaster University Alumni Gallery 2004
  • Woman of the Year in Health and Fitness 2003


Bunge Mary B, Bunge RP and Ris H (1961) Ultrastructural Study of Remyelination in an Experimental Lesion in Adult Cat Spinal Cord. J Biophys Biochem Cyto 10:67?94. J Cell Biol since 1962.

Patten Bradley M (1958) Foundations of Embryology, McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc, New York London Toronto p351.

Faber-Elman A, DL Hinschberg, M Marikovsky and M Schwartz (date?) Dept Neurobiol The Weizmann Institute of Science 76100 Rehovot Israel – Bidirectional crosstalk between injured nerves and invading inflammatory cells appears to play a role in regeneration. Migration of astrocytes across the site of injury is thought to be needed for regeneration  of injured axons. In vivo this migration is correlated with the invasion of inflammatory cells into the injured nerve.

Rasminsky M (1981) Hyperexcitability of Pathologically Myelinated Axons and Positive Symptoms in Multiple Sclerosis. Demyelinating Disease: Basic Electrophysiology, Edited by SG Waxman & JM Ritchie, Raven Press New York.

Ledford Heidi (2015) Bioelectric signals spark brain growth. Nature 10 March, doi:10.1038/nature.2015.17087.With a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, and BSc in Physics, Eva brings a unique viewpoint to the history of MS, and to Neuroscience research.

The title of her book, BLACK PATENT SHOES Dancing With MS, is a metaphor for her steps in healing and recovery.

This is the only book available about repair of damage caused by MS – with scientific corroboration!

… about the research that enabled Eva to challenge accepted opinions …

… proof movement speeds healing and reconnects damaged pathways …

… how Eva’s experience in  Problem Solving and Self-Empowerment carries a message far beyond this particular challenge …