The month of March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month. However, unless you are living off-grid, and void of the world around you it’s not hard to realize something else has dominated the social landscape. If you haven’t figured out what I’m referring to, well I do not plan on adding to the hysteria that has gripped so many within this world. I will instead give a brief bit of information on this “elephant in society” as I then break down MS and lastly its potential impact on those with Multiple Sclerosis.
So, let’s start by taking a look at the Coronavirus group of viruses. You see the reason we hearing more people rebranding what is currently Covid-19 is that it’s a member of the Coronavirus group number 19. It’s not been rarely reported that SARS and MERS are part of the same group. It’s why you can look at a few brands of disinfectants and they may list Humana Coronavirus as something they can kill. What all of these have in common is they will impact the upper respiratory functions in people and mimic anything from the common cold to cases of pneumonia. As the world is learning this newest virus, Covid-19, has many of the characteristics of the other viruses, with this one causing deaths in people.
Of course, any member of the group could cause death, especially in someone with weakened immune systems. The elderly is the group in the largest risk due to their age, the diminished immune systems, and often pre-existing ailments that have put their health at risk. As the linked article, from Forbes (above) shows, the CDC shows that till you hit the age range of 50 the mortality rate is very low, about .5%. As you get to the older age ranges the rate increases and you near the mid-70s, 2.7%, and as we get older it gets higher. The one big take-a-way from the research I did for this posting is those 19 and younger, including school-age kids, there have been few deaths. A recent report I saw (unable to find) listed youngest victim was 14 in China, and 15 in Europe.
So, as I step back and I look at Covid-19 I get the degree of safety that is being called for regarding this virus. It just saddens me that so many have placed their trust with the news to bring us information on this virus, but critical facts are left out. Instead, they would rather get everyone focusing on the number of deaths compared to recovery. To, think the Flu which there is a vaccine for may kill over fifty thousand in America alone this year. I have a link to a CDC update on the Flu. I write all of this as people really should do some of their research. Heck, even the US President’s news conference has him giving a better message of hope than what the news gives us.
I think I have spent enough time on “that” virus and it’s time for me to turn my attention around to the one thing I’m SURE I have and that is Multiple Sclerosis. I’ll say upfront I could link to my several posts on the disease but really if you go to the categories on my page, and choose Multiple Sclerosis, you’ll be able to read any posting as you like.
Now, where do I start? I know let’s give a highlight of what MS is, and some of the multiple symptoms of the disease. I’m not going to use your standard medical terms but try and use some examples that I hope will be better than a bunch of medical terms.
The immune system in a human is there to attack invaders and keep our bodies running pretty safe. It’s there to clear out infections, colds, and other things that may try to break through our defense lines (skin) and attack. The problem comes when our immune system turns traitor and starts attacking the communication lines of the brain. It will start chewing on the nerve fibers, like a rodent chewing through cell tower cables. As those dang pesky rodents break through those lines people trying to use their phones will start to see spotting signals. They may even find that something happened and their call goes to a different person. You may have dialed, say 411, to get information and find that you are being connected with a 911 (emergency) operator instead.
This is, very basic, what is happening within the mind, and sometimes spinal cord, of someone who is diagnosed with MS. We find that our mind will send a direction to our body, and will find that direction messed up and not received. It’s like turning your cars blinker light on to go left and you end up going right while the entire time you wanted to go left. It’s frustrating in so many ways.
So, what are some of the symptoms of MS? Well, first let me explain that they are different for each person with MS. Sure many may have some of the same ones, but they are so varied that it’s hard to find two with the exact same symptoms.
Here are some of the key ones, and hitting some I deal with: Numbness/weakness in limbs, coordination issues, vision problems (vision loss, double vision, blurry vision, (me) partial loss in an eye), Slurred Speech (no not drunk), fatigue (hate this one), dizziness, pain/tingling in parts of the body, and lastly bowel/bladder issues (nope not the prostate).
There are of course many other things that may happen. People have lost the ability to walk, mental issues from mood swings to depression. The disease also has different forms as some may find that with their medication they lead a normal life. Others may find themselves in remission just waiting for that unwanted flare-up, and others have a form that just progressively will get worse after diagnosis. I’ll just be blunt here, MS is a BITCH!
Now, I don’t want you to think this is all doom/gloom as I mentioned some can live a normal life, and I want to say that for the most part that is my case. I live in Wisconsin, and I get out the shovel, use a snowblower, to clear the snow we see each winter. My wife and I, live in a corner house so we got plenty of sidewalks and I am the type that will even go further and help neighbors. Why? I mean yes I’m worried about fatigue, but it’s needed exercise. I also think about anyone who may be out there taking a walk, kids going to school and postal carriers. I’ve fallen on a badly maintained sidewalk and with the MS it took forever to get up. I mean I had to walk on my hands and knees into a snowbank to finally get a footing to stand. I never want anyone else to have to deal with that, so it’s why I go out of my way.
I even can say I take pride in mowing my yard, and as we enter the spring soon it will be time to rake the leaves. Now, sure I’ve learned over the years what my limits are. I’ve learned to judge when I may be pushing things and that’s when a nice bit of water and rest is called for. So, what am I saying here? I’m not giving myself a clap on the back, but instead pointing out how I won’t let this disease dictate my life, but instead, I’m telling this Msonster who’s boss.
I know those who may have read other posts on my blog are like, this again, well here’s the thing. I believe this ties both into the Coronavirus and MS, and that’s that FEAR is the worst thing in both cases. It’s why I spent so much time covering the “virus” at the start of this posting. I wanted readers to have a true understanding of what this is we are all facing. See, I know others with MS and they are afraid to talk about it. They do not want to even tell the family as afraid of how people will react. Me, I want to educate people so they understand that they should not feel sorry for me. I’m strong and I am in a good mental space. Sure, I have my moments as I have found myself watching a moment in a movie and getting emotionally invested. I can even watch some Japanese Animation and with a great plotline, the same thing can happen. I mean this guy is not afraid to cry if the emotions well up and instead of trying to force it down, well get me some tissue, I need to blow my nose.
As for what the “virus” can do with those with MS? Well, the virus is too new to have a great answer to that. I have done some research online and here is a link to some good information. A key thing that my common sense tells me is that, well, MS is an immune disease. It means that I have a weakened immune system and could be at risk of getting sick easier. Also, I know that if I get severe complications, like a high fever, it could create a flare-up for me. Of course, the big fear for some with MS is the respiratory concerns. I mean if someone has struggles breathing already the “virus” could be even more dangerous.
I think by now I’ve written quite enough on both subjects. I do hope that people, that made it this far, realize I have a few key points. They are; do your research, question what you’re told, stay strong, do not let FEAR win, and most of all keep a sense of humor. I mean come one I did my best to toss some comedy/puns into this posting. If I got a grown, a laugh or even a small smile then I feel I did my job. I’m going to close with the next sentence.
Life is to short, and we never know when/how it may end, so enjoy every moment and smile as much as you can.
I want to thank my wife Jennifer for being there, and putting up with me for over a decade of MS. There are examples of strong families and those who broke up all over social media. The key is she and I have worked together and found compromises with what life has brought us, so thank you.