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A Terrible Disease Multiple Sclerosis

Updated on March 17, 2010

My great grandmother was born in 1891 and she had Multiple Sclerosis. She was the happiest person I knew. By the time she was in her mid 20's she had developed MS. The stories I have been told was that for about 5 years or so instead of sitting in her wheelchair she would push it even though it was difficult for her. By her early 30's she could no longer push the wheelchair she was in it. But my grandmother would tell me she was still a happy woman. She never let her disease get her down. By the time I came along my great grandmother was 67 and bed ridden, not having the strength to sit up in her wheelchair. Being in her bed was the only way I remember ever seeing her. My mom would line up myself and my siblings and my great grandmother would try and guess which ones we were. We lived 550 miles away so only visited my great grandmother once a year. She would always laugh when she got our names wrong. She knew all our names but as kids do, we changed in a years time and it was one of her favorite things when we came to visit, to try and put the right name with the right kid. She passed away at the ripe old age of 81 in 1972 when I was 14 years old. I still miss her, but I will always remember her spirit and laughter. I often wondered how she stayed so upbeat when she had been ill for most of her life. It's something I will never know.

Facts About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis occurs when the body's immune system malfunctions and eats away the protective sheath that covers the nerves. Without the protective sheath the communication between the brain and the rest of the body becomes impaired. Severity of symptoms vary from person to person and affects the ability to walk and in some people to talk. My great grandmother was able to talk her entire life and the MS mainly took away her ability to walk. That was her greatest problem. In some people with MS, just getting diagnosed is sometimes difficult because in the early stages symptoms may come and go sometimes for months at a time.

Although MS can occur at any age the majority of people get it most often between the ages of 20 and 40. More women then men also get this disease.

Because MS affects different nerves in people, some people may have certain symptoms while other people do not. MS doesn't affect the same nerves in everyone. Some of the most common symptoms of MS are:

  • Weakness or numbness in one or more of the limbs, usually one or the other side of the body or the lower half of the body.
  • Partial or complete loss of vision, usually one eye at a time.
  • Blurring or double vision.
  • Pain or tingling in different parts of the body.
  • Electric shock sensations with head movement.
  • Unsteady gait.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Bladder and Bowel dysfunction
  • Cognitive function.
  • Emotional changes and Depression..

These are the most common but certainly not all the symptoms of MS.

Causes

Why one person gets MS and the next does not is still a mystery to scientists. Some theories that are being studied are the immune system, genetics, and viral infections. Scientists think that some risk factors may increase your chance of getting the disease. Risk factors include:

  • Age, the most common age to get the disease is between 20 and 40.
  • Your gender, women get Ms twice as much as men do.
  • Heredity, if you have a close family member with MS your chance of getting it increase to a 1 to 3 % chance while the general population has a 1 tenth of 1 % chance of getting the disease.
  • Infections, The Epstein Barr virus which is the virus which causes mononucleosis has been linked to MS. However scientists are still working on how Epstein Barr might cause this to happen.
  • White people with northern European ancestry are at the highest risk for developing this disease. Asian, African and Native Amerians have the lowest risk. Scientists think this is because the body produces vitamin D with exposure to sunlight and those of the north have less sunlight. Scientists also think that if a child living in a high risk area moves to a low risk area before puberty will then have the lower risk. If the person moves from higher risk area to lower risk area after puberty then they retain the higher risk. Interesting.
  • Other diseases such as Thyroid disease, Type 1 diabetes, and Inflammatory bowel disease seems to increase the risk of developing MS.

Treatments

There is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis. There is only medications to treat the symptoms and make the patient more comfortable. Once the protective sheath is eaten away by the bodies immune system, damage to the nerves occurs and this is irreversible. In some people the MS can be so severe that it can become terminal but it is rare. The majority of people with Ms can expect to have a normal or near normal life expectancy. My great grandmother lived to the age of 81 having had MS for well over 50 years. So thankfully having MS for most people is not a death sentence, it's just a miserable way to live, unless you don't let it bother you, like my great grandmother.

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    • fishtiger58 profile imageAUTHOR

      fishtiger58 

      3 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Thanks for reading my hub sylvia13

    • sylvia13 profile image

      Sylvia Gadea de Beer 

      3 years ago from Shoal Bay, NSW, Australia

      I have just added a Medical update comment to my hub. I read about your grandmother and her experience with MS and one must follow her example. Thanks as it was inspiring to read it at this point in time.

    • profile image

      Carrie 

      3 years ago

      in patient that's been on a wtnaiig list for proper pain management for as long as I can remember.I am familiar with the problem.I live in British Columbia,Canada.Where a witch hunt in the 80 s took the licenses of most,if not all,doctors that dared to take pain on.It is now impossible to find a family doctor that will prescribe even minimal amounts of opiates.I have a specialist and have had to go to a methadone clinic to get an amount of morphine that works for a small portion of the day.I have to take methadone as well,as those are the rules.The methadone is an agonist and decreases the effect of the morphine.In a mis-guided attempt to prevent a few people from abusing drugs.A whole province has to do without proper pain management.What you describe is only the beginning.That picking off of single doctors will only satisfy the DEA for a time.They will probably go after all doctors prescribing opiates eventually.Like the government did here.

    • profile image

      David 

      3 years ago

      My personal and pinfessooral experience has shown me that the only ethical, workable, and effective way to treat substance use disorders is determined by what's best suited to each individual case and the likelihood of its incorporation. The more diverse the options are, the better the outcomes will be. We must meet the client where THEY are at and move from there; not from some pretentious ideal. It's absurd and childish to expect a hijacked brain to act contrary to the trajectory determined by metabolic inertia. The only responsibility the individual has is to them self and those who they interact with. The implied accountability each relationship presents is defined only to the degree it does not obstruct or harm anyone else's freedom of choice; including what foods or substances one chooses to consume. The common denominator our citizenship is determined by is the implied social contract we have with each other. The social contract is defined only by its primary purpose, e.g. I expect a certain level of performance when you drive your car and you expect the same from me. Trying to control secondary, conditional elements like what others eat, drink, inhale or supposite RECTALLY is a distortion of the primary purpose. Any truth which is not self-evident is corrupted by the ego with its opinions and desire to control others. If I choose to, or choose not to utilize medication-assisted treatment, whether it be buprenorphine or methadone, is MY choice and nobody else’s.

    • fishtiger58 profile imageAUTHOR

      fishtiger58 

      8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Thanks so much mulberry and yes my great grandmother was one happy lady she never let it get her down. Thankfully so far no one else in the family has developed it.

    • mulberry1 profile image

      Christine Mulberry 

      8 years ago

      I had a friend who was diagnosed with this many years ago. It is a sad disease, to watch someone slowly lose their physical abilities. It's always very inspiring to see someone who manages to continue living their life and enjoying it for all it's worth despite the hardship.

    • fishtiger58 profile imageAUTHOR

      fishtiger58 

      8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      As with any disease it's never easy for the individual with the disease or the family. Thanks for reading my hub cashmere.

    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 

      8 years ago from India

      I knew nothing about MS before I read your hub, but now I am much better informed. I feel the illness which affects someone in the family become more personal somehow. My grand dad suffered from Alzheimer in the last ten years of his life(he lived till the age of 89). Physically he was strong as an ox, but mentally he had become a baby. ?My nana had a tough time those years.

    • fishtiger58 profile imageAUTHOR

      fishtiger58 

      8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Thanks so much for your kind words 2patricias, my great grandmother was something else.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 

      8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      MS is a very sad disease, and we admire your grandmother for staying cheerful. We don't know how we would react in her situation, but hope and pray that we would retain an ability to enjoy the good things in life.

      Thanks for an uplifting Hub.

    • fishtiger58 profile imageAUTHOR

      fishtiger58 

      8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Thanks for your kind comments Sage and thanks for reading.

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 

      8 years ago

      Excellent article, extremely informative and very well written.

      Sage

    • fishtiger58 profile imageAUTHOR

      fishtiger58 

      8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Thanks so very much for your kind words Jen, they are much appreciated. Thanks for reading my hub.

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 

      8 years ago from Delaware

      Hi fishtiger58! I so enjoyed reading about your great-grandmother. You are the first person I have ever met who discussed a relative diagnosed with MS so long ago. I love your description of her upbeat attitude and personality. I can see why you still miss her to this very day. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me!

      ~Jen

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