What does it mean?
MS stands for Multiple Sclerosis which is Latin for "many plaques". It is a disease of the central nervous system otherwise known as the brain and the spinal cord. It is assumed that an over zealous immune system is the cause although ongoing research may change that concept someday.
Presently, there is no cure for MS. Symptoms are as variable as the individuals who have them. Numbness, tingling, vision loss, dizziness, cognitive problems and mobility changes are just a few. Some people with MS have just one or two symptoms while others have many more. There are websites, such as the NMSS, and books, such as MS for Dummies, that outline very clearly what MS is, the different types and treatment modalities.
Some statistics compiled on MS by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation are:
350,000-500,000 people in the USA are estimated to have MS
Most are diagnosed between the ages of 30 to 50
30% have intermittent symptoms with long periods of stability
40% diagnosed experience no disruption of their normal activities
10-20% have steady progression from the onset
75% diagnosed with MS never need a wheelchair
Two-three times as many women as men have MS
Although MS in itself is not usually a life threatening disease, over time it can take its toll. That being said, those with MS CAN and DO live full and satisfying lives. Many factors depend on how aggressive it may be including what "type" of MS you are diagnosed with, your basic health, treatment choices and lifestyle.
What you can probably control in determining how fulfilling your life is or isn't is ATTITUDE. Allowing for the down days while keeping a fighting spirit and zest for living can make all the difference in your outcome. Connections with others is very important. Any chronic illness can cause one to feel alone and isolated. Family and friends may be supportive or not. It is the mission of Sonoma County MS Group to aid and educate while offering recreation and fellowship to anyone who has MS. Your story is your own but the commonality we share as travelers on the same path unites us.