Life Behind the Smile: Confessions of an MS Patient

Mandy Crest Health Guide
  • Nobody likes a complainer. I know I don’t, and that’s why it’s I often keep MS symptoms to myself.

    I tell Jake pretty much everything, eventually. He’s supportive and kind, but that doesn’t mean that I should spell out every ache and pain that he can’t fix. Heaven knows, he’s got his hands full with me, besides having his own aches and pains.

    On the job
    , I appear to be doing very well, despite MS. I only work mornings, when I’m at my best, and I could be a poster child for one of those people living with MS and doing great!

    This is one place where I can lift the veil and put a spotlight on my world. Here I can honestly answer the question, “How are you?” knowing that I will not be branded a complainer. Here, I can speak to the people who “get it” because they live it. Here we have an obligation to share the truth behind the smile, lest we give the wrong impression.

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    It was five summers ago that MS hit me like a freight train. Since then, I’ve been steadily losing ground, despite appearances to the contrary. I used to come back to full strength for months at a time, but that is no longer the case. So, even when I'm able to drive, walk, and work, there is a world of invisible symptoms doing their thing.

    * My limbs are extremely weak and easily strained. I have trouble exercising with a 5 lb. weight.

    * I fight fatigue constantly.

    * Numbness has given way to constant throbbing of my feet and calves, sometimes intensifying to the point of pain. This is true even when I am having no trouble walking.

    * My posture is disgraceful because I can’t get comfortable for more than a few minutes at a time, causing me to fidget a lot. I feel so heavy! It would sound stupid if I tried to explain that elsewhere.

    * My thumbs and forefingers twitch most of the time. It's harder than ever to write or use a mouse. 


    * I have brief moments of vertigo daily, adding to balance problems.

     

    * There’s a ringing in my ears most of the time.

    * I often have painful, but brief foot spasms.

    * When a migraine hits, my MS symptoms are greatly exaggerated.

    * I can’t stand heat or stuffy rooms. I feel as though I'm on fire!

    * My clothing irritates me.

    * The indentations scattered around my body, evidence of years of injections, are unsightly. I’m hope it's worth it in the long run, and I try not to be vain, but it bugs me!

    Right now, I am walking without a cane, at a fairly steady pace. But behind that healthy looking walk is a throbbing, aching mess. And behind the pleasant smile there is a battle going on.

    Of course, I know I'm in good company. If you're a regular at The Health Central Network, you probably share these annoyances... and then some.

    Now it’s your turn. What’s going on behind your veil?

Published On: November 03, 2008