MS for Dummies (and Caregivers) [Steve’s Corner]

I, like many of you out there, am not a trained medical professional.  I find myself getting lost in the scientific jargon the doctor spouts.  When asked, “What is MS?”  I reply the disease my wife has. Then I am asked, “What does that mean?” I say, “She has trouble walking, keeping her balance, and sometimes I think she is drunk because her speech slurred.”  People look at me and kind of laugh.  I have tried to understand the situation, but the technical language is often times over my head.  It is very frustrating for me not to understand what exactly is happening.

ms explained by caregiver

Over the course of time, I have figured out a way to describe what is going on.  I understand mechanical things and how stuff like that work.  My wife was incorrectly diagnosed with Lupus in the early nineties.  I have learned that the symptoms for Lupus and MS mirror each other.  Lupus is a rheumatoid disease and MS is neurological.  Sorry, I am almost in over my head.

I understand the nervous system is like an electrical circuit.  The brain (power source) sends signals (current) through the nerves (wires) to different parts of the body.  In a normal circuit, the current goes immediately to its destination (light comes on).  In a damaged circuit, the current gets diverted or shorted out (light does not come on immediately or may take a second or two to work).

The doctor tells you that something is attacking the sheath that surrounds the nerve; therefore, the signal is interrupted.  This is pretty straight forward.  In the example above, the insulation is being stripped from the wire; causing the current to take an undesirable path.

Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to explain things in more simple terms.  If they speak over your head, try to break it down to language you both can understand.  The better you understand what is going on, the easier it is to explain.  Others wonder is MS contagious.  Is it the food or drink I consume?  What causes MS?  Being able to discuss MS in terms that everybody can understand makes everyone more comfortable.

I hope this has helped.  Figure out what works for you.  Keep asking your doctor questions until they can put it into language you can understand. A little knowledge can go a long way.

Hang in there. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  When times get tough, and you see only one set of footprints in the sand, they are not yours.  HE will not put any more on you than you can handle.  When you feel like you have reached the end of the line, ask HIM for help.  You will receive.  I pray that one day MS will only be in the history books, but until that day, keep up the good fight.