Life Behind the Smile: Confessions of an MS Patient

Patient Expert

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.

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?