Every year, more than 2,500 Britons are told they have multiple sclerosis. If they ask what it means, they’re likely to be given the textbook definition: it’s a progressively disabling, incurable, neurological illness.
They’ll be told that pain, disability and a range of distressing symptoms are in their future. How bad it gets, how quickly it happens it’s not possible to predict. But there’s not a lot they can do, except take the drugs available.
That was the experience of my husband, Jon, when he was diagnosed ten years ago. He has relapsing-remitting MS, which means symptoms appear during a relapse, then fade partially or completely. We were 24, boyfriend and girlfriend, and the shock we felt at hearing the news became, over time, a kind of
self-preservatory denial of its possible implications.
There is almost no end to the list of symptoms MS can cause, but in Jon’s case it manifests as general, sometimes debilitating, fatigue, spasms and pain in his arms and legs, and numbness in hands and feet. That could change at any time to include problems with his vision, balance and speech, bowel and bladder function, among other things.