I am an optimist. I always hope for the best outcome. When things don’t turn out right, I try to find some good in it. Barring that, I usually can find a lesson in there somewhere, or at least make peace with the situation.
On the other hand, I don’t live life with my head in the sand, especially when it comes to multiple sclerosis, and I resent it when it is implied that I (we) should. Despite the ones among us who casually live their lives with MS and barely a blip on the radar screen, MS is serious business. Whether we like to think about it or not, MS has the potential to destroy lives.
It’s time that we put multiple sclerosis in its rightful place. Let’s take it off the list of inconveniences that can be easily shaken off with a positive attitude. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. It causes a variety of symptoms, varying widely from patient to patient. A partial list includes:
* optic neuritis
* weakness and numbness of limbs
* lack of coordination
* bladder disturbances
* difficulty with speech and swallowing
* cognitive difficulties
Progressive forms of multiple sclerosis can be particularly aggressive. I don’t mean to imply that life with MS is all gloom and doom. Researchers are making progress on many fronts and the medications currently available to treat MS have improved our odds.
I don’t know if I’m a typical MS patient or not. Since the disease presents differently for each patient, it is hard to say. I do know that some of my symptoms do not fit the general pattern of MS, but that other symptoms fit the profile to a tee.
I also know how MS has made its presence known in my life. I had my first symptoms... at least my first painfully obvious symptoms... in July of 2003. At that time I was 43 years old, active, energetic, and aside from migraines, in great shape. Within six months, even before I received that definite diagnosis, my life was profoundly changed.
No longer could I expect to hold down a job with a 40-hour work week. Driving became unsafe. I purchased a cane, a shower chair, and other assistive devices. My battle between dependence and independence was on.
Optimistic? Yes, I am. My life is good and I have much to look forward to. But make no mistake about it. Multiple sclerosis weighs heavily on my mind. What it has already done, and what it has the potential to do, keep me pessimistically optimistic.
Published On: September 29, 2008