Over the past few months, I have been slowly telling you about my struggles with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). I hope to one day be strong enough to tell you the whole story to relive those earlier days But for now, I take baby steps to let you into my daily life.
Let’s start with a few things you should know about Multiple sclerosis.
What Is MS (Multiple Sclerosis)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease, which means it affects your nerves. It’s also an autoimmune disease. This means your body’s defenses against disease malfunction and starts attacking your own cells.
With MS, your immune system attacks your body’s myelin, which is a protective substance that covers your nerves. The unprotected nerves are damaged and can’t function as they would with healthy myelin. The damage to the nerves produces a wide range of symptoms that vary in severity.
It’s a chronic condition
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition, which means it’s long-lasting and there’s no cure for it. That said, it’s important to know that for the vast majority of people who have MS, the disease is not fatal. Most of the 2 million people worldwide with MS have a standard life expectancy. A rare few may have complications so severe that their life is shortened.
Although Multiple Sclerosis is a lifelong condition, many of its symptoms can be managed and controlled with medications and lifestyle adjustments.
The list of possible Multiple Sclerosis symptoms is long. It includes numbness and tingling, vision problems, balance and mobility issues, and slurred speech.
There’s no such thing as a “typical” symptom of MS because each person experiences the disease differently. The same symptoms may come and go frequently, or you may regain a lost function, such as bladder control. The unpredictable pattern of symptoms has to do with which nerves your immune system attacks at any given time.
Multiple Sclerosis is a silent disease
Multiples Sclerosis is labeled as a “silent disease” or an “invisible disability.” Many people with MS look no different from someone without it because of some of the symptoms, such as blurred vision, sensory problems, and chronic pain, are not visible. However, someone with MS may need special accommodations even though they don’t have mobility issues and seem “fine.”
MS is also called a silent disease because even during remission, the disease still progresses. This is sometimes referred to as the “silent progression” of MS.
Multiples Sclerosis involves relapse and remission
Most people who seek treatment for Multiples Sclerosis go through relapses and remissions. A relapse is when you experience a flare-up of symptoms. Relapses are also called exacerbation.
Remission is a period in which you have no symptoms of the disease. A remission can last for weeks, months, or, in some cases, years. But remission does not mean you no longer have Multiples Sclerosis. MS medications can help put you into remission, but you still have MS. Symptoms will likely return at some point.
SO there are a few things you should know. As someone who has lived with MS for 25+ years I have found keeping a sense of humor helps a lot. I mean it’s hard being the only sober drunk girl at a party after all.
Do you know anyone with Multiple Sclerosis? What’s the hardest part for them or you when you’re with them?