Family shares man's experience with Multiple System Atrophy

62–year old Eric Sutton confined to whee­lchair, can't speak


A family is speaking out on a man's life with Multiple System Atrophy.

62–year old Eric Sutton has lived with the disease for the past two years. He once led an active life as a husband, father, lawyer, and college professor. Nowadays, he’s confined to a wheelchair and unable to talk.

His wife of 38 years, Sharon, described his condition now as unbelievable. 

“It’s so heartbreaking, you can’t even wrap your head around it,” said Sharon Sutton in their La Coste home on Friday.

MSA is rare and often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s Disease. Sharon Sutton said the disease snuck into her husband’s life unannounced. Doctors have told he her husband will eventually lose all ability to chew, swallow, and breathe.

“The part that makes him my husband is still all in there, but the part that’s disabled him, that relationship is gone,” she said.

Fortunately, the father can communicate through a talking device called a Dyna Vox. He also shares his thoughts with friends and family on Facebook. 

Eric Sutton takes a slew of medications on a daily basis, but none are helping cure his illness. His wife said they just help him be more comfortable. 

His 25-year-old son is often seen by his father’s side. 

“(Seeing him like this) makes you angry and sad,” said Nathan Sutton, the middle child in the family.

With no cure for MSA in the immediate future, Sutton’s wife hopes her husband of 38 years always knows his sons and his wife love him very much.

MSA requires the same resources as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) but does not always receive them. Medical staffs often do not know how to treat patients, as they are not familiar with this disease. 

March is Multiple System Atrophy Awareness Month. The goal is to bring awareness to a rare disease that results in the degeneration of nerve cells in several parts of the brain that affect abilities most of us take for granted. 

Raising awareness about MSA is the Sutton family’s mission.

The Dream Foundation has granted Eric Sutton his dream trip, which is “to stick his toes in the bright blue water on a white sandy beach” surrounded by his children and family. The trip is scheduled for May and the family will head to Destin, Florida.

For a list of recent stories by Mariza Mendoza, click here.


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