Six months ago I would not have clicked on that headline to read about multiple sclerosis.
Last summer if you asked me what MS was I think I would have told you it is a bad disease where victims can't walk. In honor of MS Awareness Month, I will provide you with some of the information I have learned since I was diagnosed in September.
According to the National MS Society,
Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another.
The cause of MS is unknown. Here is some information on causes from the Mayo Clinic.
The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. It's believed to be an autoimmune disease, in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. In multiple sclerosis, this process destroys myelin — the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.
Myelin can be compared to the insulation on electrical wires. When myelin is damaged, the messages that travel along that nerve may be slowed or blocked.
Doctors and researchers don't understand why multiple sclerosis develops in some people and not others. A combination of factors, ranging from genetics to childhood infections, may play a role.
Here are some interesting facts about MS from The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.
- More than 400,000 people in the United States have MS.
- An estimated 2,500,000 around the world have MS.
- About 45 percent of the people with MS are not severely affected by the disease.
- Diagnosis of MS is usually between 20 and 40 years of age.
- MS affects more women than men, with a ratio of 2:1.
- MS does not significantly affect life span.
- The course of the disease is unpredictable and no two people will experience the same set of symptoms.
- There are four types of MS: relapsing-remitting, secondary-progressive, primary progressive and progressive relapsing.
- Among young adults, MS is the most common disease of the central nervous system.
- Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of MS.
- MS is not contagious.
- MS is a progressive disease for which there is not yet a cure.
- Increased understanding of MS has led to the development of many new treatments that target both the disease process and its many symptoms.
- In countries further from the equator, the incidence of MS increases.
- MS is not inherited or genetically transmitted, although there does seem to be some genetic susceptibility to the disease
In the past six months everything's changed, yet nothing's changed. It sucks that I don't have as much as energy as I once did. Yet, I am lucky to have a supportive family and healing yoga. There are many people with this disease that have it so much worse than I do. Some are in wheelchairs, some can't work, some are in severe pain, some live alone, some don't have health insurance and some are depressed.
I hope you can consider supporting The Multiple Sclerosis Society or simply show compassion for others that may be suffering from MS.