When we look at human life there seems to be a never-ending stockpile of disabilities – most minor, some frustrating yet hardly noticeable. And then there are those disabilities that depress the heart, sadden the soul and force one to live a life “out of the normal”. Those without disability often take for granted the gifts of a “normal” life. Not me you say! Well then - tell me, when was the last time you thought about breathing, walking, reaching-out to grasp an object or talking with the one you love without searching for words or limited physical ability to express them.
Most of us are uncomfortable with the disability of others - - we look away, avoid social contact and keep our communications “short and sweet”. Seldom do we take the time to first understand the disability and then, reach out from our hearts to make life a little bit more “normal” for those who live life “out of the normal” day after day. My Chris has Multiple Sclerosis - so, because I know we’ve been searching for answers – here’s an informative overview of Multiple Sclerosis’ impact on life.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease of the Central Nervous System (CNS) - that’s the brain and spinal cord. Principally, it’s a disease of the “white matter” tissue. The white matter is made up of nerve fibers which are responsible for sending signals both internally within the CNS and between the CNS and the nerves supplying rest of the body. Simply put, it is how our brain tells our muscles to move.
In people affected by MS, areas of damage called plaques or lesions appear in the brain or spinal column nerves. At the site of a lesion, a nerve insulating material, called myelin (much like the rubber coating on an electrical wire) is lost. How MS will affect you is difficult and unpredictable – as each individual is different. No two people get MS in precisely the same way and the appearance of each individual’s disease is as unique as their DNA. No matter how MS “plays out” for each individual - underneath similar processes (including demyelization and sometimes other forms of nerve degeneration) are going on.
Those with MS are often affected in one or more of the following functional areas: vision, muscular control (walking, grasping), sensory (pain, touch, smell, taste), coordination and balance, cognitive and “other” functions we often take for granted. In general and what is most scary is that people with MS can experience partial or complete loss of any function that is controlled by, or passes through, the brain or spinal cord. I know that is terribly scary…
A great deal of what has to be done to combat MS, that is to say “live with MS” – since there is no cure - is up to the individual who has the disease in union with the support group that surrounds them (physicians, family, friends, and a caring community). Those with MS know they must: participate in an exercise program, practice sound nutrition, get ample rest, keep their stress to a manageable level, continue medical care and most of all, share their “out of the normal” life experiences with those around them.
If you are struggling with MS – please contact me at the Towne Fitness Club – I would be honored to help you, share your concerns and fears – and help you plan a life “living as fully as possible” with MS.