Life After a Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
Last week actress Christina Applegate announced she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It’s a debilitating autoimmune disease that affects women three times more than men.
“It’s been a tough road,” Applegate said in a tweet announcing her diagnosis.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a product of an overactive immune system, in which the body attacks the protective coating of the nerve fibers – causing a communication problem between the brain and the rest of the body. This disease can be disabling, though signs and symptoms can vary depending on the individual. There’s no cure, and no definitive cause.
Actress Selma Blair – known for her roles in “Legally Blonde” and “Cruel Intentions” – was also diagnosed with MS in 2018. She’s been open about her battles with the disease in her social media accounts, and is about to release a documentary chronicling her life since her diagnosis.
“I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken GPS,” Blair wrote in a post on her Instagram account.
Symptoms of MS can include:
- Electric-shock sensations associated with neck movements
- Issues with sexual, bowel or bladder functions
- Lack of coordination
- Numbness or weakness in the limbs, typically on one side of the body at a time
- Slurred speech
- Tingling or pain
- Unsteady walk
- Vision problems
It’s important to talk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms to determine if you’re at a risk for developing MS. However, diagnosing the disease is difficult and may take some time. There are four types of MS, and each generally becomes more severe and more debilitating.
Through her social media accounts, Blair has shared the good and the bad about MS: there have been days of triumphs – like when she is able to ride her horse or when she can strut in heels with a fashionable cane or pose in couture. There are also days where she feels like she’s in a fog; battling muscle spasms, fatigue and limited mobility as her legs are unsteady.
“I will always have MS, I now see. Always. But I am going to learn how to use this body, brain and emotions,” she wrote in another post.
Posts like these provide a window into a world that researchers are continuing to learn more about. Nearly one million people are living with MS in the U.S. Clinical trials are ongoing to improve treatments to help people with MS manage their symptoms, treat relapses and modify the progression of the disease.
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Photo credit: Getty Images