When I got my diagnosis in May of 2003, I really didn’t know what MS meant, my Mum was with me, I think she got upset but I was very calm. My Mum’s sister already had it and my Dad’s sister had died from it but for me it meant nothing. I was completely ignorant to how it was going to change my world..
When I look back now, it was the catalyst to change my world for the better.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Lets start at the beginning, we all have a nervous system in our body, it is called the Central Nervous System (CNS) and it is through it that our brain sends messages along the spinal cord, to get us to do things like walk or lift a cup or look at something. MS can affect all these fundamental actions. When you have MS, my understanding of what happens is that certain white blood cells pass over the blood brain barrier (this doesn’t happen in someone without MS) in the brain and go on to attack the myelin. Myelin is the protective coating around your nerves, I always picture it being like the insulation that goes around wires in a lead to a plug. It is an Autoimmune Disease as the body is attacking itself. When Myelin gets attacked, it gets inflamed ie swollen, red and sore and it also gets damaged, so you get loss of function. This demyelination is followed by some repair and scaring. What does this mean to us, after demyelination or an attack, messages from the brain can’t travel as well along the nerve/axon and the area damaged loses some function. With every attack, you can lose more function and that is why the illness is usually progressive. The demyelination results in lesions that are visible on an MRI scan, which is one of the ways the neurologist diagnoses MS.
This all sounds a little glum but from what I have read and what I believe, the key is to stop the disease progressing. This is done by natural (nutrition, sunlight, meditation, exercise, positivity) and if required medical therapies. This is why I whole heartily recommend the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis book by George Jelinek. I have read many books over the years but feel that, this one changed my life, helped me to understand MS more and take steps to slow the progression.
Types of MS
There are 4 types (see below). It can be difficult to know what category you fall into or what your prognosis will be, you just have to wait and see what happens.
When I considered the above progression I realised that I wanted to learn and do whatever I could to slow down my progression, my MS. The last thing that I wanted was to end up being a burden to anyone, I wanted to keep my independence, which I think is the fear of anyone newly diagnosed. So now I spend my time, constantly trying to do all the right things, diet, sunshine, exercise, meditation and positivity. It is not always easy but I think it has paid off (except for the occasional bad day). I have found peace and the ability to live in the moment and not worry about the future.
Other interesting facts
Tales of my MScapades and non-MScapades.
(and it's okay to ask me about it.)
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