March is Multiple Sclerosis awareness month. Do you know of anyone with Multiple Sclerosis? Would you know if you did? What signs and symptoms would you look for?
People who have Multiple Sclerosis can look just like you and I, or they could be wheelchair bound, use a motorized scooter or walking frame. But believe me, they know – every day – that they have this disease. Whether it be from the quirky little numb spots left over from when a whole chunk of their body went numb spontaneously, to blind spots in their eyes, the agonizing muscle spasms, the daily/weekly/monthly medication regime, or the mind-numbing exhaustion that is known as MS Fatigue, trust me, MS reminds them every single day that they have it.
“But you don’t look sick”, “Wow, you look good”, “You don’t look like a person with MS”. How would you feel if you had the ‘flu from hell, you just wanted to crawl under a rock and not wake up until it was all over, and some bright cheery soul came up to you and told you you look fantastic? Okay, granted, there are some who would genuinely find it complimentary, but for the most part it’s almost offensive, you feel lousy dammit, and here’s this person denying the way you feel! Now I’m not saying that the person (or people) with MS that you encounter feel this way every day, however with the side effects of some of the medications they’re on it’s a good possibility that they feel lousy a fair percentage of the time, and that’s just from the medications, as I’ve mentioned above, some of the symptoms are pretty gnarly too.
So don’t go dismissing MS or the person who has it, that’s just rude, not to mention the snappy retort you may get if they’re not having an “MS brain” day. And don’t ask how they’re feeling unless you really care. And most important, don’t tell them about your grandfathers’ aunties’ cousin who has MS and “they’re just fine” (and they don’t need to hear the horror stories either). MS is a highly individual disease and while people who have it may have some similar symptoms to each other, it affects each person in very different ways.
It is a nasty, insidious, chronic, progressive disease that strikes mostly (but not limited to) women between the ages of 20 & 40. It’s incurable, but not terminal, although the person who has it may sometimes wish it was. It is one of a family of auto-immune diseases that attacks the central nervous system of the body causing anything from cognitive difficulties and depression to muscle spasms and sensory difficulties.
It does this by munching away at the myelin (think insulating coating around electrical wires) around the nerves, and leaving scars that inflame and affect the transmission of messages through the nerves to the muscles etc. (Multiple Sclerosis literally means “many scars”). Hence the individuality of the disease – symptoms depend on the size, number and distribution of these “scars” (lesions) throughout the brain and central nervous system.
Did I mention that it’s incurable? That’s right ladies and gentlemen, not even the latest internet craze of smearing unpasteurized bee shit on the affected areas gets rid of this one. It has NO CURE!! Just a whole heap of scientists looking for one. So please don’t be offended when you offer your sage advice on the recent alternative therapy found on http://www.quacks-r-us.com and you’re told politely (or not so politely) to take a long walk off a short pier. Most people with MS work together with their highly qualified medical team to manage their symptoms and disease progression (or hopefully lack thereof). If you want to help, get in touch with your local branch of the MS Society, a legitimate and credible organization dedicated to helping those with MS and their families/friends to fundraise for research and ways to improve the lives of people with MS.
March is Multiple Sclerosis awareness month. Do you know anyone with Multiple Sclerosis? What would you do if someone you were close to were diagnosed with it? What can you do about it? Help us fight for a cure, contact your local MS Society and see what you can do to help or how to donate.
Below I have featured some great MS Awareness products available from MS World, a great site run by MSers for MSers. I’ve linked to a few of my favourite designs, they have heaps more – click on the Cafe Press logo to see the full range. If you have some great ideas for designs, there’s also a link there to email if you wish “donate” them.