We all know, because we have heard it so many times, that MS is not the same for everyone — that no two people have exactly the same combination of symptoms.
That got me thinking the other day (pause for call-outs or derision) about the number of symptoms there are, and which ones I have to deal with.
As a start, I headed over to the website of the U.S.’s National MS Society. I found an imposing list of 22 symptoms. But how many affect me? What do I do about them? And how do you manage yours?
Fatigue – Oh, yes, this can knock me off my feet. But since moving to Spain, it hasn’t affected me. It might be the more relaxed lifestyle.
Walking (Gait) Difficulties – Probably the most visible part of the disease for me. My left side is affected, making walking difficult. I am pleased to say that my Vitamin D supplement appears to be helping me around the house and walking short distances. Fewer falls, too. Over longer distances, I still need a wheelchair — the great folding lightweight power chair I bought.
Numbness or Tingling – Yes, mostly in my left hand. I cannot use that hand to hold anything.
Spasticity – Having looked up the definition, I seem to have been spared this.
Weakness – Yes, mainly in my left knee but, again, apparently improving with Vitamin D.
Vision Problems – No, fortunately nothing yet.
Dizziness and Vertigo – A difficult one to answer, but I’ll try to explain. I rarely suffer from dizziness, but my balance depends on being able to see around me. In darkness, I am much more likely to lose my balance.
Bladder Problems – Yes, both infrequency and urgency. These are controlled mainly by medication, but if I’m going where public restrooms may be difficult to find, I wear a pad to be on the safe side.
Sexual Problems – Perhaps the most difficult symptom for many to discuss. Ok, so here goes: Yes, I have sexual problems linked with erectile dysfunction. But I still have a full and fulfilling sex life. How? Easy, Lisa and I talk. We understand each other’s needs and we both end up happy.
Bowel Problems – That’s me, but no risk of incontinence here. Constipation is my problem. I take laxatives to overcome this.
Pain – Fortunately, no. Nothing beyond aches and pains that can affect everyone.
Cognitive Changes – Not in the slightest. Just as alert, aware, and understanding as ever.
Emotional Changes – No. I am emotionally stable, calm, virtually worry-free, and happy.
Speech Problems – None, apart from an English accent.
Swallowing Problems – None. You serve it, I’ll swallow it (as long as I like it).
Tremor – None.
Seizures – None at all, but I take a daily dose of anticonvulsive medication because I also have epilepsy. Even so, no seizure for more than 40 years.
Breathing Problems – Yes, shortness of breath if I try to do too much. I find that sitting down gets me going again soon.
Itching – Occasionally, particularly after going to bed.
Headache – Extremely rarely, probably less frequently than many people without MS.
Depression – Never! Life is worth living, so live it.
Hearing Loss – Eh, what? No, seriously, Lisa says I have bionic hearing.
So, how are you getting along with your symptoms?
This article, written by me, was first published by Multiple Sclerosis News Today.
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.