I guess this would be a good time in this fledgling blog to provide a very brief, very non-scientific overview of Multiple Sclerosis as I understand it.
Take a peek behind your television. There are likely a bunch of tangled cords feeding out from your Blu-ray player, cable, speakers, gaming console (or if your household is anything like mine, SEVERAL gaming consoles), rabbit ears, maybe a VCR. That tangled bunch of cords is your central nervous system. Your nerves transmit signals and messages from Point A to Point B. Like the cords behind your entertainment center, your nerves have a protective insulated coating around them. That’s called the myelin sheath and it facilitates the sending and receiving of electrical impulses.
Now imagine that your asshole cat goes behind the TV and starts chewing on the cords. You’re hopelessly engrossed in season three of Dance Moms, you piece of crap, so you don’t notice right away. Eventually you realize that your asshole cat has chewed through some of the coating on several cords, leaving behind patches of exposed wire. These are called lesions. You’re relieved to discover that all of your appliances still seem to be functioning properly–for now. Down the line, however, you may notice that the picture on your television is distorted or fuzzy. You may notice that the sound from your speakers is tinny or garbled. You may notice sparks coming from the cords or outlets in the wall. Or maybe your appliances stop working altogether.
Your asshole cat is Multiple Sclerosis.
There are four types of MS: Relapsing-Remitting, Secondary-Progressive, Primary-Progressive, and Progressive-Relapsing. All four types vary in severity from person to person, with Relapsing-Remitting MS being the most common (and most desirable) type.
MS is an unpredictable chronic auto-immune disease and it’s unique to each person who has it. It can be exacerbated by heat, stress, or over-exertion. Nearly any system in your body is fair game. Not only does this disease affect you physically, it attacks you mentally and emotionally and it greatly impacts relationships, your financial situation, and your career path.
Good morning! Is today going to be the day you lose your vision? Will you have control over your bladder? Will your joints be in pain? How will your balance be today? Will your limbs feel like they’re on fire? Will you have enough energy to go about your normal routine today? Will you have tremors? Vertigo? Something else? Will you get lucky and have a good day, a glimpse into your former normalcy?
The hidden blessing is: While each day feels like your own secret game of roulette, you gain a little clarity and perspective, an appreciation for each day and the thousands of tiny movements and sensations–ones so small, you don’t really notice or acknowledge them until they’re in jeopardy–that we all take for granted every single day. I’d love to have a maid come and clean my house and cook my meals for me, but the thing is I can clean my house and I can cook. There may be a day when that becomes too difficult and I’ll require a maid.
The best advice that was given to me around the time of diagnosis has become a mantra that I remind myself of regularly: Take one day at a time. Those words mean something different to me now than they would have several years ago.
Stop, breathe, reflect. Live, learn, grow. One day at a time.