Am I concerned about the future? Do I worry about how multiple sclerosis will affect me as the years pass by? Does the future feel like a threat?
Well, the short answer to all three is “no”.
The reasons for this are not because of any insensitivity to, nor ignorance of, how serious MS can be. It is impossible to ignore the possibilities that may lie in wait but you have to remember that the risk of the very worst happening is extremely low.
Most people living with MS remain able to walk unassisted, while a smaller number need the help of a mobility aid. Indeed, many are able to continue working.
Only 25% of people with MS use a wheelchair or stay in bed because they are unable to walk, according to a survey completed before the new disease-modifying drugs became available.¹
I do need to use a wheelchair to get out and about because the amount I can walk is really limited to a very short distance. Even using a walking stick or cane, after 10 or 15 yards/metres I am forced to rest, preferably while sitting down. Similarly, standing is limited to a couple of minutes.
Steps can be taken only extremely slowly – both feet up to every step while holding on to the handrail. And that is only for three steps without help from someone else.
A wheelchair user I may be but even when needing to move further than I can walk, I do not consider myself confi.ned to my wheelchair; it is just a mobility tool to help get around when not driving my car. Indeed, my description of myself is ‘wheelchair enabled’.
The world-renowned Mayo Clinic² lists these complications that people with multiple sclerosis also may develop:
- Muscle stiffness or spasms
Yes, have those.
- Paralysis, typically in the legs
As I can still walk short distances, no I’m not paralysed
- Problems with bladder, bowel or sexual function
Yes, have medications for those.
- Mental changes, such as forgetfulness or mood swings
No brain fog or cognitive problems, no more forgetful now than ever, some ‘snappiness’ more than mood swings.
No, never had depression of any kind.
Yes, diagnosed with this 30 years before MS so hardly a complication. Medicated and fully under control with no seizure since 1975.
To sum it up, I don’t worry about what the future may bring, with or without MS. In fact, my own attitude to worry can best be encompassed by this quote from Dalai Lama XIV. He said:
If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.
50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease/disorder-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.