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Multiple Sclerosis Sufferers Shed Light on Their Disease

Since 2003, March has marked National Multiple Sclerosis Education & Awareness Month. This is an opportunity to promote public awareness of a disease that afflicts more than 2.5 million people worldwide, and to assist those living with MS in making educated healthcare decisions. In honor of this effort, Yahoo! asked readers and contributors to write short personal stories on multiple sclerosis, and share with others what they wish was better known and understood about this condition.

Two Decades Later and MS Still a Mystery

Nearly two decades have passed and this disease is still a mystery. Even doctors offer little insight, since the progression of multiple sclerosis is uncertain—illustrating how difficult MS is to understand. Although there are standard symptoms, such as muscle weakness and stiffness, each person has his or her distinct experience. Increasing confusion for observers, many with MS appear healthy, as do I. Thus, making it more difficult for others to understand how fatigued the MS inflicted often are.

Family, friends, and coworkers could help immensely if they could understand this one very thing: MS doesn't just disappear because we appear healthy. Walking may not be an issue one day, while we require a wheelchair the next. So, if we state that we are too tired, please understand. MS is a disease we must adapt to daily, albeit unwillingly.

Rebecca Black

My Disease Is Almost Invisible

Most people don't know what to say when I tell them I have multiple sclerosis. Usually they choose something like, "I didn't know you were sick."

That's because I'm not. I work very hard to keep that demon at bay. For me, the key is avoiding gluten and hot, humid weather. Of course, where I live in southern Illinois, that second part is hard every summer, but if I'm smart, I do OK.

My MS is not the same as anyone else's MS. Even my mother, who was diagnosed after having similar symptoms to mine, has had a different disease progression. I choose to fight it with diet and exercise; she's on Tysabri. For me, the prescription medications had worse side effects than the disease did.

Finally, medical professionals, please stop assuming every time I get sick, it's related to MS. Sometimes, the flu is just the flu.

Lucinda Gunnin

Living With the Daily Uncertainty of an MS Attack

"You have multiple sclerosis!" Wow, that diagnosis is overwhelming. There is no cure for MS. Symptoms can vary from person to person and from day to day, depending on the location of affected nerve fibers. I live with the uncertainty of whether I will have an MS attack today. I meet this challenge by relying on Jehovah. He strengthens me with a real hope for the future. I laugh and find joy in spite of my disease.

Sometimes I am so dizzy or tired, I can't get out of bed. I often have to cancel or postpone activities because my symptoms have intensified. I'm blessed with patient family and friends, who understand the effects of multiple sclerosis. I appreciate their love and support, without their pity.

Mary Swingler

Tidiness Matters a Lot

I have suffered from multiple sclerosis for about 13 years, which escalated substantially four years ago. People at home should know that tidiness matters a lot. Even an unaffected person knows that tidiness or organization in their surroundings affects stress levels and mental/emotional clarity. Multiply this by 10 for a person who has MS. The odd shoe left out to trip on is often a huge issue for us.

You may think that a person with MS who does not work has the easy life, but, do you realize it takes great physical and mental effort to complete the most simple tasks that most people take for granted? Do you realize that constant vertigo often accompanying MS makes just crossing the street rather frightening? Do you also realize that diet and emotional stress can be enormous factors in wellness? Please try not to stress us out.

Ruth Kroger

I Have MS, but MS Does Not Have Me

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that attacks the central nervous system controlled by your brain and spinal cord. It causes a great deal of problems for those who suffer from this disease. There are many who end up disabled due to their struggle with this disease. In 2002, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and was in a wheelchair by 2003. For the next six years, I would struggle hard to function. I tried many treatments, which provided little if any relief from my symptoms. In 2007, I began to exercise and became determined to walk. After two years of painful struggle and a strong determination, I began to walk without the use of any walking aides. I continue to stay active, and I exercise to keep myself strong. I have MS, but MS does not have me.

Becky K.

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