by Jamie Miller
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has a rather disagreeable way of intruding upon peoples’ lives. It can come on quickly and unexpectedly, and, through osmosis, makes itself rather comfortable wreaking havoc on your central nervous system. Or, it can be quite sneaky, playing tricks for years before you know it is there.
Either way- or both- for those who live with MS, the nature of the disease is a stark reality.
MS can cause a myriad of cognitive, emotional, physical, and social impairments, leaving those who are affected at its mercy. The good news is that MS treatments are progressing, and promising disease-modifying-treatments are on the rise. Even better, there are doctors around the world searching for a cure!
Curious about MS?
It might take quite a bit of research to satisfy your curiosity about MS. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) provides a wealth of information on all aspects of MS; it is worth a few minutes of your time to satisfy your thirst for knowledge, or a few hours of your time if MS is a part of your life.
MS is an extremely complicated, demyelinating, autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system. The onset of the disease is generally during young- relatively speaking- adulthood. NMSS states that “most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, although MS can occur in young children and older adults”. In other words, it is not picky.
MS is relatively rare, although according to the NMSS, recent studies revealed that nearly 1 million people in the United States live with MS - more than twice the number previously thought, and more people are receiving diagnosis sooner than ever before.
A lifetime ago, or rather March 2019, my husband received a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. It all started one fairly benign, winter morning- a Saturday in February to be exact. My husband- 32 years old, ripe for the MS picking- walked into the room and proceeded to explain that he just experienced what sounded like a stroke: his left arm seized into his body, he had no movement in his left leg, his muscles on the left side of his mouth were contorted, and he couldn’t breathe.
Within a short period of time, the episode passed, and he was left plagued with repeated involuntary muscle movements in his left arm. Needless to say, after a long trip to the emergency room, a lot of wait time, several MRIs, and an amazing neurologist our MS journey began.
I am still amazed at how suddenly and impactfully such a disease can change lives. One minute your husband is chasing the kids around the house, the next minute he is starting a disease-modifying treatment.
Like many others, after learning about MS we were able to trace the disease back for years, but that first clinical flareup left its mark, and we found ourselves launched into a lifelong battle against MS. We are very fortunate to have received the care that we did, and you would never know that my husband is suffering from a silent- at least at this point- disease.
MS can be progressive and comes in all shapes and sizes, but regardless of its form, the painful, neurological impact is real. As my husband’s disease evolves, so will his story.
MS may not play a role in your story, but do not underestimate the role that you can play in MS’s story. The MS community is one of the most welcoming and supportive communities out there, in particular, the NMSS. If you or someone you know has MS, or you if you are looking to be involved with an amazing community of people, reach out to NMSS and get involved.
I recently completed a service project with the NMSS Mid America Chapter in Kansas City and it was a great experience; they are always looking for support. Bike MS: Kansas City is coming to the area in September, click here to check out volunteer opportunities, or click here to put together a team. Or, you can always reach out to an NMSS Volunteer Coordinator; click here to reach out to Wes, our Kansas City Volunteer Coordinator.
NMSS is the biggest advocate for those with MS, and they open their arms to anyone who wants to join in the mission to create a world free of MS. If your story needs a little more action and adventure with a few more characters, be an MS champion. I am.