Thursday 18 May 2017

Kiss Goodbye to MS

   This Month, the MS Society is trying to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis with their #KissGoodbyeToMS campaign. Most of you know it's a charity close to my heart, as my mother suffers from secondary progressive MS and I'm a full-time carer for her, so I feel a little guilty that I'm so late to this month-long event.

   For those of you who don't know, multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease that affects the nerves. It occurs when the myelin sheath, the protective coating around nerves, is damaged and the body is unable to repair it. This simple damage can have far-reaching effects and a wide variety of symptoms, because it's the myelin that helps messages travel to and from the brain and the rest of the body. In MS, the reason the sheath doesn't get repaired is because the immune system mistakes it for a foreign body and attacks it, so it breaks down and can't repair itself. Over time this damage becomes scars and interrupts the signals travelling along the nerves, slowing them down, interrupting them or stopping them from getting through at all.
   In my mum's case, initially she suffered from what she called 'floppy foot' - her foot wouldn't lift properly as she walked, for no clear reason, and she'd fall over. Over time, this began affecting her lower body further, she was unable to walk and needed a stick, then a frame, and now a wheelchair. Now she can no longer do anything - anything - for herself, and is entirely dependent. She is absolutely never left alone. She barely speaks anymore, either - a day we get 5 words out of her is a good day. A full sentence is cause for celebration.
   I wrote a post a couple of years ago about it all.

   It's a vicious disease for which there is no cure. Fortunately, a lot of progress has been made in the recent year to delay its progression and to eradicate some symptoms in the beginning stages, but there is no hope for people suffering from such a severe case as my mum.

   My sister and I have always worried about it - what if we have it? We've wondered for years, as we watched her symptoms progress since we were children. She became wheelchair-bound when I was 16. Fortunately, all the progress being made means that, if we are so unlucky, then it's possible it won't be as bad for us as it is for her, assuming we were in the 65% whose MS escalates to secondary progressive. But it still terrifies us.
   MS can only be diagnosed by a neurologist; a GP is not likely to catch it, and it generally forms in women aged 20-30. The symptoms of MS are also so vague you might brush them off or chalk them up to something else, such as fatigue, dizziness, or blurred vision. It's always a good idea to get it checked out, especially if it's recurring.

   Sign up to the #KissGoodbyeToMS campaign - give up one thing for 4 weeks and raise money to help their research. Or just donate. It could help people you know - it could even help you. Sign up, kiss goodbye, share on social media with the hashtag, and spread the word.
   I'm giving up World of Warcraft for a month, which is a daily habit, and giving this month's game time fee to MS Society. Here's my kiss goodbye picture, and as an added bonus, there's a photo of my mum and dad in the background.
   And in case you're wondering, nude is the only lipstick I have...


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