This blog is a personal record of my life with multiple sclerosis.
MS is an auto-immune and neurological disease that affects the central nervous system (or in other words, the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve). It is the most common neurological disease in young adults in developed countries, with the average age at onset between 20 and 40 years old. Around 3 in 4 people with MS are women.
Myelin, or the myelin sheath, covers the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve like insulation. For people with MS, their own immune system attacks the myelin sheath. This causes demyelination. Demyelination results in scars or lesions on the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve, which interrupt communication between the nerves and the rest of the body.
The results are not fun. Symptoms are variable and complex, and include visual disturbances, cognitive impairment, fatigue and pain, as well as reduced coordination and balance.
There are four different types of MS:
- Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS): This is characterised by unpredictable relapses during which new symptoms appear or existing symptoms become more prevalent. In between relapses, a person is in remission. This is the most common form of MS.
- Primary Progressive MS (PPMS): Unlike RRMS, PPMS is characterised by a steady worsening of symptoms. While there are no relapses, the disease progresses.
- Relapsing Progressive MS (RPMS): In this form, there is a gradual worsening of symptoms interspersed with relapses.
- Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS): In many case RRMS evolves into SPMS. This is characterised by a sustained build up of disability similar to PPMS, independent of any relapses.
There is no definitive cause, and there is no cure.
People you might have heard of with MS include Montel Williams, Jack Osbourne, Ann Romney, Alan and David Osmond, Tim Ferguson and the late Chrissie Amphlett. And for TV lovers, the fictional President Bartlett (from The West Wing) and Susan Kennedy (from Neighbours) have MS.
For detailed information about the joys of MS, check these links out:
- MS Australia: www.msaustralia.org.au
- MS Research Australia: www.msra.org.au
- Multiple Sclerosis International Federation: www.msif.org
- Multiple Sclerosis Society (United Kingdom): www.mssociety.org.uk
- Multiple Sclerosis Trust (United Kingdom): www.mstrust.org.uk
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society (United States): www.nationalmssociety.org