I always start my story with" I went to sleep as LeaAnn Swinney and woke up a total stranger. This time I'm doing things a little differently. I must let you know that i do not suffer from MS. A very dear friend of mine is slowly losing her battle with MS. Not in death.. But I have lost her to the disease itself, I have watched this disease eat her alive.. She unable to tell you her story.. With her blessings and her help.. And the help of my support group Beautifully broken I have made some pretty special friends and MS warriors. This blog is for my friends and every person who suffers with this horrible disease. I hope to give them a voice. I want to thank my brave friends for their help and input in writing this blog.
This is their story..
Multiple Sclerosis MS is a unpredictable and often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.
Types of MS:
Relapsing - Remittimg MS
*Flare ups followed by recovery, stable between attacks
*Seconday Progressive MS
Seconday Progressive phase of worsening of symptoms with or without super imposed relapse; treatments may or may not delay this stage
*Primary Progressive MS
Gradual but steady accumulation of problems from the onset.
Malignant or Fulminate MS
Sadly there is no cure for MS, but there are treatments that can slow down the progression of the less aggressive forms of MS.
"I have extreme heat intolerance, I have persistent aching pain it's in my limbs." "Nothing helps I'm exhausted to the bone 24 hours a day."
MS is characterized by periods of relapse and remission for some, for others including my friend it gets progressively worse. I will never forget the day she received her diagnoses.. For her it started when she took a shower one morning and she couldn't feel her toes. Her husband rushed her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with MS.
MS is considered a autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system., which normally helps to fight off an infection, mistakes your body's healthy tissue as being bad and attacks it.
"I can't concentrate on anything, and I forget what I'm doing right in the middle of doing it."
"My limbs are often tingly and numb."
"I have poor balance and appear drunk and one side of my body is far weaker than on the other side."
As her disease progressed my friends balance and difficulty walking became more pronounced.. About 3 years before my own open heart surgery and stroke a year later in 2014, I was my friends caregiver.. She Hated her wheelchair and would use it as a walker instead! I would walk behind her ready to catch her fall. My tall, breathtaking friend now shuffled hunched over beside me proudly refusing her wheelchair.
"MS ruins your whole life. It messes up your marriage it makes you feel hurt, unwanted. My kind of MS is a fast moving MS, I can't drive your stuck in your wheelchair. I don't really get hungry, you are tired even when you sleep all night. Its a very lonely life. You see everyone is doing what they want well, and they want you to, but you can't. All you have is your TV. You hurt all the time between that and that between numbness your always fighting an up hill battle."
An MS diagnoses is confirmed by an MRI to see the lesions (scars) on your brain by doing an examination of the cerebrospinal fluid(spinal tap) to look for any abnormal cells.
When a person has MS a special covering that protects the nerves gets damaged. This covering is called Myelin. Scars form where good myelin used to be. And these scars slow down or stop the nerve messages. When this happens, muscles or other parts of the body that can't always do what the brain is telling it to do.
Picture your nerves as the chords to appliances. To all the plugs: when the coating around the wites, like your myelin becomes damaged the electrical current to the appliances becomes faulty and your device no longer works properly.
"Your hands and your legs are often numb or weak, your limbs feel tingly. You have poor balance. You often feel itchy (although there is no itch. Fatigue is a constant companion np matter how little or how much sleep you get. Your body has very low tolerance for heat or cold."
Multiple Sclerosis MS means Scars. It is diagnosed in people in between the ages of 20 and 40. Women are most likely to develope MS than men. They don't know why women are more affected, and don't know what causes it. There is no rhyme or reason as to who develops MS.
"The main thing I would want people to know is there are many kinds and each person is an individual! So just because someone has it or had it doesn't mean they would understand!" I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy."
In conclusion I will leave you with a staggering list of symptoms MS warriors deal with on a daily basis. Again I want to thank my amazing group and friends for their honest input. They are so sick, fighting their own bodies everyday. They are not lazy. Far from it.
Damaged nerve receptors
Loss of balance
The list continues as each individual is different and suffer silently in their own private Hell. Please join me in my quest to bring awareness to MS and find a cure.