From the first time I heard of Multiple Sclerosis 10 years ago, I believe that the awareness has grown tremendously, but with that comes some misconceptions or myths about the disease that want to focus on.
Misconception 1: Multiple Sclerosis is a Death Sentence
While we are all going to die someday, MS is not something like Cancer where death is an option. MS will make your life harder, make you stronger, but will not automatically be the cause of death. It's not like West Nile Virus or Mad Cow Disease, it's more like being hit by a freight train every morning but blessed to survive.
Misconception 2: Women are Unable to Have Children
I'm a young, married woman with no children. When I was diagnosed, this was by far one of my biggest fears. Questions went through my mind, Will my husband and I have to adopt? Will we be the coolest aunt & uncle to our nieces and nephews and just live with dogs forever? So many questions surrounded this issue, yet there isn't anything to worry about. MS is interesting when you are pregnant...I'll explain:
Basically, your immune system kicks into high gear when you conceive to be sure to help out the baby, therefore it isn't focused on eating away the Mylein on your spine. (go here to read more about Myelin).
I will actually be able to get off of my injections for the time leading up to conceiving and all throughout the pregnancy (that's definitely a blessing!). There is one drawback though, typically MS patients relapse right after delivery, which means a round of IV steroids is almost always given. I think this is going to be amazing, I mean I get drugs that keep you up and give you tons of energy during the first week home with a new baby?! Sign me up!
Now, I know how the current trends are with breast feeding...but for my situation, it's not an option. What a blessing it was to hear from my doctor that I WOULD be able to have children. I think I can handle the not breastfeeding part.
Misconception 3: You Will Never Walk Again
According to the National MS Society, "Two-thirds of people who have MS remain able to walk, though many will need an aid, such as a cane or crutches" - The odds are definitely in my favor (I couldn't resist a Hunger Games mention), especially looking at my mother who has had this disease for 10 years, she still walks, works, and does way too much than she actually should! 'Hopefully' I follow in those footsteps.
Even in the event I do become confined to a wheelchair, you should know that it will be pretty amazing, and orange! I definitely will stick out in the crowd!
Misconception 4: You are Unable to Hold a Steady Job
This is something that I am very passionate about. I absolutely love my job, I don't want anything to come between my ability to enjoy my profession and go to work every day. There are many professions that I don't think I would be able to do, even at this point of my diagnosis. Anything that is out in the heat would be a killer for any MS patient, I'm thankful to work indoors sitting comfortably at my desk.
Misconception 5: All you will do is sleep
This one is the most important. You will do more than sleep, you will eat, cook, clean, work etc. But trust me, all you WANT to do is sleep! I've never had a problem keeping my eyes open during college classes or at work, but now I seriously have to put in an effort to not doze off.
Putting in that effort just makes you want to sleep more...it's bad.
Does anyone else think about sleeping and think that it's similar to a long awaited vacation? Yet you only woke up 2 hours ago...every day right?
I hope this helps answer some questions you might have about MS or 'myths' you may have heard.