An INVISIBLE DISEASE
In October of 2006, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I look back now to before the diagnosis and can see signs that should have told me something was not right but I never gave much thought. Like stumbling or my speech would slur. I began having dizzy spells quite often and they began occurring daily. I mentioned it to my family doctor and he didn’t sweep it under the rug or ignore it. He ordered an MRI, the results didn’t return with good news. So he referred me to a neurologist in another town, after a day of testing I was exhausted. A few days later, the nurse calls and wants to set up a visit to discuss my results. I was insistent that I just be told over the phone. The doctor came on the line and said “I’m sorry to tell you but you have Multiple Sclerosis.” Not the best news but it could have been worse and compared to 15 years ago, there are now medications to help slow down the progress.
What is MS? MS is a misunderstood disease. It affects what is called myelin, myelin is what covers your nerves in your head. MS can also be found in the spine. The myelin is worn away kinda of like a cord that gets frayed and the electricity doesn’t do its job properly. It’s been said that the attack on the myelin is your own body thinking there is a foreigner in your body and attacking to rid the foreigner. (ex. Having a virus and your good cells are attacking the bad cells.) My brain may tell my body to lift my leg, but because of the damage of the myelin, my leg may not get that message and I’ll stumble (foot drop) or fall.
Each person affected by MS will confront very different issues. The symptoms are many and may never go away or be there one day and gone the next. The symptoms can happen quickly or start slowly. Some are visible while most are invisible.
The invisibility is a frustration to most MS patients. I can see the look in people’s eyes when they find out I have MS. On the outside I look normal (okay as normal as I can be for me.) I hear “Well, you look good” and I know people are being polite. What isn’t seen is the extreme fatigue I fight everyday. The numbness, pain, eye problems, speech clarity, tremors, legs jerking, forgetfulness, intolerance to heat/cold are just a few of what I and others with MS deal with.
So, I just want to encourage you to be aware that just because a person “looks normal” on the outside doesn’t reveal the battle that is going on in the inside of people with diseases that can’t be seen.
With God’s help, I will fight to live my life as normal as possible and with His strength, I will push through the symptoms with the knowledge that I can’t do everything I used to could do and that’s okay. God is my strength and He alone is in control.