The invisible disease. The silent struggle. Unlike other diseases, Multiple Sclerosis can largely present only internally, mainly as pain and fatigue. This, in turn, creates an entirely new kind of pain—the pain of being alone in suffering. When others don’t know what is wrong, or can’t fully understand what it is like to live with MS day in and day out, most living with the diagnosis often forgo speaking up, and instead, learn to cope quietly.
The MS hug is a symptom many individuals with multiple sclerosis are all too familiar with. It’s a hug that is not only uncomfortable but also undesired. The MS hug can be described as chest pain, rib pain, or a band of tightness around the chest and/or torso. It can be felt anywhere between the neck and the waist, and might occasionally feel so tight, that the individual experiencing it has pain or difficulty breathing. For many, it can be excruciating, frightening, and resilient. Recently, Continue reading
By Alene Brennan
My first reaction when I received the diagnosis of Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis? Do NOT tell a soul. People would judge me and put limits on me. Not to mention I was 37 years old and single. MS isn’t exactly the trait I wanted featured on my online dating profile.
I kept my diagnosis a secret for more than a year. Continue reading
Living with a chronic condition like MS can be very difficult and frustrating. Explaining to others what it’s like to endure life with MS can be even more frustrating. Our community members have shared with us what they wish others knew and understood about MS.
Of the many symptoms that trouble those with MS, one of the most common that is misunderstood is fatigue. MS-related fatigue is hard to understand, yet it is so important for family, friends and caregivers to comprehend. All of us have experienced fatigue at one point or another, but MS-related fatigue is like no other. MS fatigue is significantly different than fatigue experienced by those without MS and it is important to recognize the differences.
“MS related fatigue is not the same as being tired.”
“MS fatigue is not caused by losing out on sleep.”
“MS is exhausting and can cause extreme fatigue and horrific pain.”
MS fatigue is present no matter what. The simplest of tasks become incredibly difficult, and it takes so much energy to do things that others take for granted.
“Simple tasks like taking a drink or going to the bathroom are unbelievable difficult.”
“No amount of sleep or rest will help my fatigue.”
“It’s not like you are too exhausted to do something, it’s that you are too exhausted to do anything.”
“I’m not lazy, I just hurt and need to rest.”
Although fatigue is one of those invisible symptoms, it can significantly interfere with a person’s ability to function at home and work. Our community members dealing with MS want others to know that fatigue is a real issue and it affects their daily life immensely. MS-related fatigue can cause cognitive impairment, clumsiness, and poor balance.
“Fatigue is something I encounter at some point every day of my life.”
“My fatigue occurs on a daily basis.”
“Fatigue can come on suddenly, which means I have to cancel plans on short notice.”
“My fatigue comes on easily and suddenly and can worsen as the day progresses.”
Our community members shared with us that along with their fatigue, comes stress, anxiety and depression. The frustration can bring on anger and impatience. It is so important for family and friends to understand where this is coming from.
“Pain makes tolerance hard.”
“I get so frustrated with myself and I get angry with others.”
“I have less patience for people and things.”
“I never used to be short on patience, but in recent years, my fuse has gotten very short.”
“At times, my anger can rise more quickly and there are fewer filters.”
“I snap at everyone but don’t mean to.”
Our community members also wanted others to know the true “invisibility” of MS.
“I may look fine on the outside, but I feel terrible on the inside.”
“MS makes you appear normal on the outside, but wreaks havoc on the inside.”
“Others can’t necessarily see our limits, as we see and feel them.”
It is also important for our family, friends and caregivers to know that MS is a constant battle.
“It’s on my mind always, even when I feel well.”
“MS is something you think about every day.”
“It’s unbelievably hard to live with-mentally, physically and emotionally.”
“This is not something I chose.”
Finally, our MS community members wanted others know that life is not easy and every day can be a different challenge!
“It’s a roller coaster…you have ups and you have downs, twists and turns, except it’s never fun.”
“No two people progress the same.”
“It can knock you off your feet at any time.”
One common theme that came up frequently from our community, and stands on it’s own as a constant reminder:
“It’s out of my control.”
Educating the people in your life, though often challenging, can help you receive the empathy and understanding you so deserve.