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Helen Olson: "Single-handedly trying to wipe out this condition"
Eighty-six year old Helen Olson has a passion to understand how restless legs syndrome (RLS) affects families. "My interest has turned to the question of how the syndrome is passed on," Helen writes. "Now that I have knowledge and words to put to it, I know that my mother had it. She could not stay in bed and would walk the floor. She called it 'the jitters'. Now my five daughters and on granddaughter have it to various degrees."
Helen can remember her own fleeting encounters with the "jitters", but it wasn't until she was 41 and pregnant with her fifth daughter that the symptoms became unbearable. Her doctor had no idea what she was talking about and offered little help.
"For the next 20 years I did lots of hopping in and out of bed. Doctors were baffled by my complaints and prescribed sleeping pills."
But awareness gave Helen new hope. "One wonderful day in 1968 there was an article in the paper about this 'new disease' which affected your legs. I was not crazy afterall!"
Helen contacted the RLS Foundation who provided her with the names of several doctors in her area. Today, her RLS is well-managed, but her interest has not dwindled. She's determined to wipe out this condition - if not for her sake, then for the sake of those she loves.