Being recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can understandably cause fear and anxiety, making MS awareness a vital part of the healing process. So, I have decided to relate my Multiple Sclerosis Story.

The best stories are gripping tales of derring-do and romantic intrigue. However, I can promise none of that. My multiple sclerosis story has been 30 years in the making. In heroic terms is positively dull but, if you have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, it may shed some light on what you might expect over the coming years.

My Multiple Sclerosis Story
Stephen Walker

My Multiple Sclerosis Story begins in Aberdeen, Scotland. At this time, I was working as a Field Service Engineer in the Computer Engineering field.

I lived in Lochgelly, Fife but finding work had brought me to Aberdeen. I made the 2 to 3-hour trip every Monday morning and stayed in rented accommodation for the week before driving home on a Friday evening.

My Multiple Sclerosis Story

This was in the summer of 1994 and, at this time, I knew almost nothing about Multiple Sclerosis.

I loved my work, learned a great deal about old computer systems and met some wonderful people.

diagnosis-diagnostic-autoimmune-disease-healthy-eating-immune-system
Grandfather and Granddaughter

At this stage in My Multiple Sclerosis story, I can only wonder what I might be doing now if MS hadn’t derailed my life and my job prospects.

However, wondering what might have been serves no purpose and can only detract from living in the moment.

Living with Multiple Sclerosis involves learning all you can about this debilitating condition.

Early MS Symptoms

The very first symptom that I remember was being unable to pick up my briefcase. This, even to me, does not sound like a typical symptom of multiple sclerosis. But it was indicative of the early failings of my nervous system.

I would bend down, grasp the handle of the briefcase and stand up expecting to lift the briefcase. However, I could not maintain my grip on the briefcase, my hand would open and the briefcase remained stuck to the floor. This was both confusing and infuriating.

But, not quite so confusing as the event of a few days later. I drove into the local village to buy some lunch. I parked across the road from the shop I intended to visit, locked the car and started to walk across the road. Unfortunately, I only got halfway across the road. My legs collapsed under me and I fell, unceremoniously, to the ground.

Multiple Sclerosis Scars
Multiple Sclerosis Scars

At this point, I decided that all was not well so, I managed to secure an appointment with a local G.P. He referred me directly to the hospital where I was given a lumbar puncture and an MRI Scan.

However, the only thing the consultant would tell me was that I had shadowing on my brain and protein in my spinal fluid. I did ask about MS but because this was my first episode, he would not confirm Multiple Sclerosis.

Furthermore, I now know these to be classic signs of MS. So this is the real start of my Multiple Sclerosis story.

Visual Problems

For those of you familiar with multiple sclerosis symptoms, you will know that visual problems are not uncommon.

So, it should come as no surprise that my eyesight has become very problematic. At one stage I was blind in my right eye. This imbalanced vision made me feel nauseous making daily life very difficult.

Minions at a Party
Minions at a Party

In an attempt to control the nausea, I had to resort to wearing an eyepatch over the weak eye. While the eyepatch helped in the short term. It was doing nothing to restore my vision.

By now, I was getting worried so I felt I had no choice but  to consult my G.P. She wanted to prescribe a course of steroids. However, steroids are not prescribed lightly and she felt obliged to take a second opinion.

Fortunately, the consultant agreed and I was prescribed prednisolone with strict dosage guidelines. Luckily, my G.P. was right and within two or three days my vision cleared and I could get back to work.

The Arrival of Brain Fog

When brain fog first hits, it’s like a bad joke that nobody’s laughing at. You know the words you want to use, but they’re hidden behind a thick fog, just out of reach. You might find yourself staring blankly at your computer screen, wondering why your brain doesn’t want to cooperate with you today.

It’s like you’re watching the world through a veil, detached and removed from the action. Maybe you feel like you’re in slow motion or like you’re underwater.

It’s a funny feeling, in a way – not “ha ha” funny, but more like “I can’t believe this is happening” funny. 

But as funny as it may seem, it can also be frustrating and discouraging. Brain fog can sneak up on you when you least expect it, but it’s important to remember that it’s usually temporary.

Unfortunately, in my case, this was the beginning of my cognitive decline and the slowing of my thought processes.

Cognitive Decline of My Multiple Sclerosis Story

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that many people are familiar with, and while it’s known to affect mobility, not all know about the cognitive decline that comes with it.

Progressive Disease Process
Progressive Disease Process

MS can cause cognitive decline because the disease attacks the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord, and that can lead to problems with attention, language processing, and memory.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – the brain is a very plastic organ and brain workouts can go a long way to strengthening your thought processing.

Language Skills

I became very concerned about my mental decline and set about researching if there was any mitigating action I could take. It appeared likely that, with the right brain exercises, I could build new neural connections to help overcome the cognitive limitations of brain fog.

To build new neural connections, one must learn new skills. A skill that uses parts of the brain that you have never used before.

The suggested skills include playing a musical instrument. taking up chess or learning a new language.

To this end and because my wife and I have always harboured a dream to retire to Spain, I chose learning to speak Spanish as my new challenge. I speak no language other than my native English, so learning to understand and communicate in Spanish would be a wholly new skill.

However, I must confess to not being completely illiterate in foreign languages. I did attend foreign language classes at school over 50 years ago. They attempted to teach me French and German at school, neither of which I displayed any aptitude for.

The Learning Process

So, I downloaded the language teaching application DuoLingo and set about learning to speak Spanish.

It has been a slow process but not without positive benefits. I have now been learning to speak Spanish for over five years and I am a long way short of being fluent, But, the learning process has increased my neural connections. This has had the effect of lifting my brain fog, improving my mental clarity and giving me a more positive outlook.

While there is life, there is hope. I now had the possibility of improving my outlook. My Multiple Sclerosis story may yet have a happy ending.

The Progressive Nature of MS

Roadside Wheelchair Assistance
Roadside Wheelchair Assistance

I cannot fool myself, I have a chronic, progressive disease. There is no cure for MS – yet. But, while I have hope I can work towards a better future.

Therefore, I need to know how I can achieve this. I need to learn all I can about this autoimmune disease. Knowledge is power. My best chance appears to be in adopting a healthy diet. Food is the fuel of life and if you want the best life, you must follow the best diet.

Introducing your Mitochondria

Mitochondria are something we all have. I admit that at the start of my multiple sclerosis story. I had never heard of mitochondria. But, it seems they ar vital organelles that we all have and we all need.

Mitochondria are cell organelles that exist in almost every cell in our bodies. They are sometimes called the batteries of life. It is mitochondria that produce our energy. And it is the mitochondria that produce the heat that makes us warm-blooded.

It is also mitochondria that control our cell replication which we need to grow and recover from injury.

The Wahls Protocol and My Multiple Sclerosis Story

Sometimes, social media can be very useful. I had been in conversation with a lady on Twitter. We were discussing my multiple sclerosis story when she asked me if I had read The Wahls Protocol.

I hadn’t but, she was enthusiastic about it so I set about acquiring a copy. The Wahls Protocol is a book written by a lady named Dr Terry Wahls who has herself succumbed quite badly to Multiple Sclerosis.

She has used her medical knowledge to research mitochondria and their role in MS. It is a fascinating book that can teach you  a lot about your body and how MS affects it.

This book convinced me that diet was my route to recovery. It would not cure MS but it did mean that the condition could be managed. There was now light at the end of the tunnel.

The Catalogue of MS Symptoms

One thing I have learned about Multiple Sclerosis is that it is ever-changing. I have experienced a myriad of MS symptoms over the years. Some have lasted for only a few days while other persist for months at a time.

While I am cognizant of the fact that not every symptom I experienced is directly attributable to MS. Most of them are. The more I learn about human biology and the nervous system in particular, the more I comprehend the inner workings of multiple sclerosis.

My latest symptom is a spastic bladder. This causes relentless pain which does to respond to OTC painkillers. At the outset of this symptom, I had suspected BPH or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. So my G.P. arranged for me to visit a urology clinic.

This confirmed that my prostate gland was enlarged. However, this apparently, is not unusual in men over the age of 50.

Furthermore, it does not normally cause pain. But, pain I had so I arranged another G.P. appointment.

I had already been prescribed Tamsulosin to limit the growth of my prostate gland, so the doctor suggested that the pain was being caused by a spastic bladder.

The wall of the bladder comprises smooth muscle and this muscle is going into spasm or cramping which causes quite intense pain.

Spastic Bladder Latest Multiple Sclerosis Story

Spastic bladder can be caused by excessive consumption of coffee or alcohol. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol but I do drink rather too much coffee.

So, I stopped drinking coffee and this seemed to help for a while. But, it did not stop it entirely. There had to be something else going on.

Further research revealed that neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or multiple sclerosis can cause spastic bladder.

This was just the latest in a long list of MS symptoms that I could add to my multiple sclerosis story.

References

Multiple Sclerosis Society (UK)

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