Do you remember hearing the quote “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Chronic illnesses, such as Multiple Sclerosis, have symptoms that are like icebergs; you only see what’s on the surface.
One of my students recently shared with me her experience as an MS warrior.
There are 2.3 million people worldwide that are affected by this disease, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system and is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young people. In MS, the immune system attacks the myelin that surrounds nerves and disrupts the electrical signals in our brain and spinal cord. You can think about the nerve as an extension cord where wires are wrapped in a protective coating. If the protective coating is missing or damaged, then the cord will not work properly.
Multiple sclerosis is sometimes called the snowflake disease due how it affects individuals differently and uniquely. It also has an iceberg illusion where most of the symptoms are invisible. MS causes muscle weakness, speech and mobility difficulties, pain, fatigue, and many other symptoms including difficulties with employment.
Many individuals voluntarily stop working because of the symptoms they experience although many believe that they can work and would like to return to work. Resources such as the Vocational Rehabilitation program through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education can offer services to help people with MS become employed.
My student told me she would not let MS keep her from her dreams and ambitions.
Content for this segment was created by Laranda Gattis as part of a project for SC301: Foundations of Health Communication, taught by Ms. Clubbs.
Compston, A., & Coles, A. (2008). Multiple Sclerosis. The Lancet, 372(9648), 1502-1517.
Wu, N., Minden, S. L., Hoaglin, D. C., Hadden, L., & Frankel, D. (2007). Quality of life in people with Multiple Sclerosis: Data from the Sonya Slifka Longitudinal Multiple Sclerosis Study. Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, 30(3), 233-67.