The end of "My Month with MS" has arrived, and I have to admit, it was harder than I expected. But I think that’s what made it all the more effective, and was really the point of the campaign’to provide an idea of what a typical month might be like for someone living with multiple sclerosis, which can’t be easy.
The month started off with some reading material. Here’s a bit of what I learned:
‘ It’s estimated that approximately 55,000-75,000 men and women in Canada have MS.
‘ Every day about three more Canadians are diagnosed with the disease.
‘ The cause of MS is still unknown.
‘ The symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from person to person, and may even vary from time to time in the same person.
‘ MS can cause symptoms such as extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes.
‘ According to several studies, people with MS can expect to live 95 percent of their normal life expectancy.
‘ There are different kinds of MS (relapsing-remitting MS, secondary-progressive MS, primary-progressive MS and progressive-relapsing MS)
Throughout the month, I also got emails detailing a "symptom" I was experiencing. To get a sense of what that was like, I was to use some of the items I had received at the beginning of the month to simulate the symptom. Here are a few examples:
The symptom: You awaken with muscle weakness and a ‘pins-and-needles’ feeling in your feet. This is called paresthesias’spontaneous abnormal sensations that can include burning, numbing and ‘pins-and-needles.’
The simulation: Place the pins you received at the beginning of the month in the supplied pin cushion and roll your feet on it as you sit and relax.
The symptom: Your hands are numb. You have trouble performing easy, everyday tasks such as bathing, typing and holding your child.
Numbness is the most common sensory symptom, and usually occurs with an onset in one or more limbs. Sometimes the sensory disturbance can be painful. Achy, burning sensations, a feeling of tightness or banding’these are known as ‘dysesthesias.’
The simulation: Today, put on the oven mitts you will find in your kit to limit your sense of touch and go about your day, noting how difficult it is to do simple things.
As you can imagine, typing on a keyboard is pretty much impossible to do while wearing oven mitts. This task made me especially aware of just how disruptive MS can be to your daily life. Simple things that one would normally take for granted such as walking, typing, and even bladder control can be a lot more difficult.
I hope you found my perspectives from the month useful. For more information visit the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada’s website.