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Statice / Multiple Sclerosis

A Young Patient's Journey with Multiple Sclerosis

A young Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patient shares her experience with a chronic neurological disease.

By Mehmet Mercan / Edited by Derek Chen

Updated May 28, 2023

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic neurodegenerative disease, affecting roughly 200,000 people in just the United States and nearly 2.8 million globally per year. In MS, the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath that covers nerve fibers, causing communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. The disease targets the central nervous system - the brain and the spinal cord - and eventually can lead to permanent damage or deterioration of nerve fibers. Signs and symptoms of MS depend on the location and severity of nerve fiber damage. Those with severe cases of MS may lose the ability to walk independently or even to move at all. In contrast, those with less severe cases may experience extended periods of remission (disappearing of symptoms).

Our Patient's Experience

Our patient, who we'll call Maria, was diagnosed with MS in her last year of college. To call it a life-changing experience would be an understatement. She was diagnosed near the end of her final semester. While her classmates and friends were studying for final exams and getting ready to begin their careers, she was busy coping with the shock of her diagnosis.

"It was a very stressful time for me. I was trying to prepare for my exams at this time and was very worried about my future job and whether I would be able to pursue my professional goals."

"I was leaving home in the early hours of dawn, and not coming back until midnight… I was also not eating healthily… My experience at that time was like a horse in a race - just running, running, running, and not having any time for myself."

Eventually, Maria started developing symptoms of MS, including reduced mobility and control of her muscles.

"My work life and my social life were affected, of course. One of the first things that crossed my mind after I got diagnosed was, ‘Could I still become a mother? Will I be able to raise my future children?'"

Fortunately, a mother having MS doesn't affect the birth of healthy children. However, her real concern was her ability to raise the children. If her MS developed to an extreme extent and rendered her completely disabled, she would not have the physical capability of raising children.

Maria also explained that her self-esteem took a hit during this tough time. She realized that she was no longer able to do many of the things she used to be good at. She wasn't as strong, wasn't as fast, and could not coordinate her body movements like she could before.

Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis

Luckily, Maria received treatment before the MS could advance to the point of complete immobilization. She was prescribed medication to help with her symptoms, which prevented the disease from developing to a point beyond return. Today, Maria has her dream job, is happily married, and has been raising two young and thriving little boys! Despite her shocking diagnosis and the struggles she had to endure, her strong will allowed her to keep her head up and make the most out of her situation.

"Of course, I worry for my future because of my MS. The disease may advance and become more serious without notice, but I pray every day in the hope that I remain healthy."

Her Advice

"Do your best! Although life will be difficult, make sure to lower your stress. Stress greatly increases symptoms of MS and most definitely worsens the experience. Maintain a positive and optimistic attitude. You will overcome this endeavor!"

Not only did Maria learn to cope with MS, but she also let the experience empower her, inspiring her to achieve her best. It is important that we learn from her experience and actively take measures in ensuring our own health to protect both ourselves and our loved ones.