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Lately I've been thinking about how lucky I am. As I've mentioned before, my last relapse was my worst yet, and the treatment I'...


Friday, 11 November 2011

Getting on with it...

....life that is.

I've recently found out why my life has altered so much the past few years.

I catch every cold and flu bug going, and I take twice as long as the average person to fight this off.

I have a couple of months a year where I am very ill, for no good reason - not to mention an overwhelming feeling of fatigue all the time. (Fatigue is not to be confused with tiredness, I wish I was tired, because I could then quench that tiredness with sleep!)

This has affected my social life and general mental well-being.

I had a bad bout of the flu back in 2007, from which I never fully recovered. After many trips back and forth to the doctors, I had given up and nearly considered myself a closet hypochondriac. However, two years ago my ears started making a whooshing noise, and after many attempts by the doctor to clear the tubes in my ears, I was sent for an MRI scan. The MRI scan showed small lesions on my brain, so I was sent to a neurologist (after 5 months of waiting and worry).

The neurologist then sent me for another MRI scan and a spinal tap (the slightly more bearable name of a Lumbar Puncture - where Doctors obtain some spinal fluid with a large needle). After many more months of waiting, I was diagnosed.

My diagnosis? MS. Those two little letters have been causing so much frustration over the past four years, but as strange as it may sound, I am relieved to have a diagnosis.

At least I can now seek treatment and guidance on how to treat the condition. MS doesn't mean I will send up in a wheelchair - in fact, a very low percentage do.

Essentially my immune system has a defect whereby it attacks the central nervous system. Depending what nerves it attacks, depends on what parts of my body degenerate. If I catch a virus it will take me longer than the average person to recover, and can cause mini-relapses.

Now there are four types:

Benign MS - Some symptoms are shown, then there is complete remission for a long time, maybe forever, but it may return.

Relapsing-Remitting MS - The individual has a relapse with old or new symptoms, which then can go away completely or partially in remission.

Secondary-Progressive - Where remission stops happening and the individual degenerates progressively faster. Most people with RRMS end up with this type as the condition progresses.

Primary Progressive - A constantly progressing version of the disease, with no rest in between.

I have Relapsing-Remitting MS, and I have apparently averaged one proper relapse a year. I am meant to be getting my medication by January, which doesn't cure the disease, but can slow down the frequency and severity of relapses.

I'm not looking forward to jabbing myself with a needle every day to administer this, but it is a small price to pay if it can slow the disease down right?

As long as I don't get Secondary-Progressive MS in the next 5-10 years, there may be hope of Stem Cell Treatment (which can potentially reverse damage and reset my immune system).

I'm sorry for a long blog, but I figured not many people are following my blog anyway, and I just needed to get some of this written down.

I have told close family, friends and colleagues about this, this isn't the way I have chosen to announce it to them (how impersonal would that be!)

Optimism is the key and just getting on with life as best as I can!