New hope for Multiple Sclerosis sufferers
“I fall sometimes, I drop things, my memory is foggy and my left side is asking for directions from a broken GPS. But we are doing it and I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best.” On the 16th August the American actress Selma Blair was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, otherwise, know as MS.
She reached out to her Instagram followers in the hope to help others by sharing her story. Selma had experienced symptoms of MS for over a decade and it was only this year that her fears were confirmed after doctors found lesions on her brain when they performed an MRI scan. Selma’s followers on Instagram responded to her message with love and support, two wrote... “I count myself among the most fortunate in that I was diagnosed in 1993, and now 25 years later at nearly 63 am feeling great with an only very slight physical limitation. Originally I was told that I would likely be wheelchair bound within 5 years.” “Our brother has it, since 21. He’s now early 50s. Takes treatment and has seen really great results. You’ve got this darling.” (1) MS and the battle within… MS is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system. A long-lasting disease that can affect the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves in the eyes. It can cause problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions. It is said that the cause of the disease is unknown and incurable - however, treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.
The condition of MS is of great interest to me and I have been talking to Isabelle... I would like to introduce Isabelle, an MS sufferer - a beautiful demure lady with a heart of gold and an unfair share of stress and worries. Isabelle has kindly agreed to answer some questions about her MS. How old were you when you were diagnosed with MS? “ I was 45 - it was a shock and life-changing.” What were your symptoms? “My symptoms were bad headaches, loss of vision and predominantly in my left eye.” How did you get diagnosed with MS? “ After a visit to the optician, they referred me to the hospital. The hospital sent me to a neuro eye specialist. It took quite a while but eventually, I was diagnosed with MS.” Finally, what treatment have you received? “I was on first line DMT (disease-modifying treatment) which was an injection called Rebif three times a week. I was allergic to the preservatives and still having lots of relapses. I was then put on Tecfidera tablets twice a day but I was allergic to those and got a terrible rash. I currently have a monthly infusion of Tysabri and it has stabilised my condition. In addition to that, I take Cholecalciferol which is a Vitamin D3 tablet and the epileptic drugs Tegretol and Pregabalin for the neurological pain.” ******** I have known Isabelle for over a decade, I am truly blessed to be her friend. She is one of the most gracious, kind, gentle and caring people I know. I’m going to turn the table now and look at MS from another perspective. MS - through the eyes of a friend… Watching someone you love suffer is awful, you feel helpless, sad and worried. I have known Isabelle for over a decade now and we are close friends, the kind of friends that would be there to help each other at the drop of a hat. I have watched Isabelle and her family go through all the different tests, treatments and stresses connected to her MS and other traumatic events in their lives. Each challenge, fear, loss or frustration has been dealt with courageously. There have been times where I have sat back and thought, how much more can a family have thrown at them? How can the human body be fighting an internal battle and deal with the external traumas too? ‘Love’ is keeping everything glued together in Isabelle’s family. The love people have for Isabelle, the love Isabelle has for those around her. ‘Friendships’ have kept Isabelle busy, friends have supported her and equally, she has supported them. ‘Strength of character’ has played a big part in Isabelle’s coping strategy. Whilst her body might not be firing on all cylinders at the moment, her personality and attitude are admirable. I’m so proud of how well Isabelle has dealt with everything. It would have been easy to curl up in a ball and submit but she hasn’t. In fact, she looks amazing - from the outside in you wouldn’t know about the battle that is going on inside her body. A battle that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Why is it that the loveliest of people sometimes suffer the most?
Yes, at the moment, MS isn't curable but there is hope... Scientists from Australia have made a recent discovery in their ongoing hope of finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. An article on the NHS website dated 28th November 2018 revealed that a study looked at a new treatment being developed for Multiple Sclerosis which involves extracting a sample of a specific type of the patient's own immune cells, called T-cells. The T-cells are "trained" (in a laboratory) to target and kill EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus) cells. They're then introduced back into the patient's bloodstream. This virus is very common (more than 90% of the population get infected with it at some point) and causes glandular fever in some of these people. 10 of the 13 patients who completed the treatment reported an improvement in symptoms such as fatigue, balance, concentration, sleep and distance that could be walked. Find out more here. The MS Connection… The charity 'MS Society' has put together a new exhibition called the MS Connection. One of the stars of the exhibition is Susie from Bromsgrove, after being diagnosed with MS Susie became very withdrawn and didn’t want to leave the house. Susie wants to use the opportunity of being in the exhibition to tell her story and hopes it helps others going through the same thing, as Susie says, “No one should have to face MS alone.” (2) Do you need help? If you’ve been affected by MS and would like to speak to somebody, call the free MS Society helpline on 0808 800 8000. You can also visit www.mssociety.org.uk