Monday 19th to Sunday 25th April is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Week.
MS affects the brain and spinal cord and is when the coating that protects nerves is damaged, causing symptoms like blurred vision and can affect how people move, think and feel.
Everyone with MS will experience things differently. Here’s what you can do to support someone you might know with MS:
- Ask how they’re really feeling today
- Find out how their MS affects them
- Let them know that you’re there, but don’t try to give them advice
- Visit mssociety.org.uk to find out more
Our colleague Beth was diagnosed with MS in March 2020 – take a look at her story below. Thank you for sharing and for your honesty.
I was diagnosed with MS in March 2020 right before the first COVID lockdown, after first going to my GP around eight months earlier in July 2019. My initial symptoms were pains in my legs, a loss of sensation in my full right leg (thinking the bath water was cold when it was actually hot!) and the loss of proper function in my legs. I knew how to walk properly, but my legs just wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do - I thought it was probably just a trapped nerve at first! Although it wasn’t the best outcome being diagnosed with MS, for me it was almost a relief to have some answers and know I wasn’t imagining my symptoms. I always say if you feel like something isn’t right, then go to your GP as you know your body better than anyone else!
Having been diagnosed with MS, it has really hit home to me that so many disabilities are hidden. Living with a hidden disability can be difficult because even though we might look ok from the outside, it doesn’t necessarily mean we are – conditions like MS come with a wide variety of symptoms. MS is a condition that can differ massively from day to day, so it can be very unpredictable. People sometimes struggle to understand how difficult some tasks can be and how easily symptoms can appear or get worse. Temperature and stress are the main thing that can trigger a flare up of symptoms but talking from experience, trying to avoid stress can sometimes be pretty difficult!
One of the things I struggled with at first when trying to deal with the diagnosis is the uncertainty of the condition, but just over a year down the line, I definitely feel more positive and not as scared of the unknown! I’ve recently started a Disease Modifying Treatment – which will hopefully work to reduce the number and severity of relapses I may have and slow down the build-up of disability over time. Disease Modifying Treatments are not able to repair nerve damage already caused by MS so unfortunately cannot reverse existing symptoms.
Raising awareness of MS is really important; it can make a massive difference when friends/family/colleagues understand what the condition actually is and how to give support when needed. More people are living with MS than we realise, with most people being diagnosed between the age of 20 and 50. The more awareness that is raised about MS, the more it keeps the conversation going and helps people understand that everyone’s MS is different and affects them in different ways.