Multiple Sclerosis can affect any part of your body and in any way. The immune system attacks the myelin which is the coating around the nerves. So if you think of your brain and your spinal cord, which make up the central nervous system, and all that it provides nerves too, you can understand how widespread the symptoms of multiple sclerosis can be. Each one of us who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis has a different set of symptoms.
Here is a list of the symptoms that multiple sclerosis has affected in my life.
Fatigue, overwhelming fatigue throughout the day, I have to stop and rest many times throughout the day and schedule my days surrounding the fatigued I will experience. Medication helps some.
Walking difficulties, “drop foot” on right side. Ampyra has helped, but I still use a cane in new atmospheres or difficult terrain.
Numbness or tingling, in both legs below the knees to the toes. Also the tips of my fingers on my left hand.
Spasticity, mostly on the bottoms of my feet, especially at night. Suddenly my leg will jerk and the cramping that the accompanies this is very painful. I take medication that helps, but it doesn’t make it go away completely.
Weakness, both legs but especially the right leg and right hand. I do physical therapy and swim to stay as strong as possible.
Dizziness and vertigo, balance was my first presenting symptom that went undiagnosed, as most of my symptoms did for about 30 years. If I’m on the way straight and wide, I’m OK. But in small spaces and for those that require some finesse, I am definitely taxed to the max and need my cane.
Bladder problems, both urgency and unable to drain the bladder completely. I also take a medication for this.
Bowel problems, constipation is a real problem. I take fiber daily.
Pain, tingling, burning, stabbing, hot as fire on both legs below the knees. I take a medication for this, but it helps marginally.
Cognitive changes, I have a real problem finding the right words when needed and I’m terrible with names.
Emotional changes, some disconnection with life.
Swallowing problems, if I eat too many dry foods too fast, I have to consciously slow down as my esophagus goes into spasms.
Hearing loss, mostly in my right ear. I also have ringing in both ears. It is so loud that only a bathroom fan will drown it out.
Depression, mostly at first right after diagnosis. Now it seems mostly a feeling of being disconnected with life.
Other issues might be visual problems,swallowing, speech problems, sexual issues, seizures, breathing problems, itching, and headache.
I do not list these to garner sympathy. I only list them because if you know someone who has multiple sclerosis, you may only see a very small part and the rest of the symptoms would be invisible. For me you would see that my walking is unbalanced and not smooth. You may see that I use my left hand to eat, but you would probably assume that I’m left-handed. I am not.
Going back to the daily prompt of label, I may have a label of multiple sclerosis, but you may look at me and think that there is very little disability. Often times, we get comments from people that say “you look so good”. What people don’t see are the long list of symptoms that are invisible, which is the case for many other diseases as well. You also don’t see the list of medications that I take, and the side effects that occur from those medications. Before you judge, be kind and supportive!!
I believe you can only be disabled in your mind. Therefore, when you see me you’ll see a resilient, God praising, and positive and upbeat attitude. God’s mercies are new every morning, and I will rejoice because this is the day the Lord has made!