World MS Day 2019 busts common myths surrounding multiple sclerosis
Aiming to raise awareness of invisible multiple sclerosis symptoms and bring about a positive change in society’s understanding of the condition, the MS International Federation has released a helpful list of common MS myths and truths for World MS Day.
With the 30th May officially marking World MS Day 2019, this year’s awareness campaign is focusing on changing public perception surrounding the symptoms of MS that can’t be seen with the naked eye but impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
The global campaign is encouraging those living with MS to share their invisible MS stories on social media, using the hashtag #MyInvisibleMS
Erin Brady, a person living with MS from Australia, shared her thought-provoking story: “How dare I park in that disabled parking spot, after all, I look just like you, right? You see, I walk normally, I look like any other person you’d pass in the street. You might shake your head. Hurl abuse, leave a note on my car.
“What you won’t see is that with every step I take, my body fights for its survival just so that I can function like anyone else. A war rages inside of me, with pain that can be so horrific, it is almost indescribable. Like placing your hand on an electric fence and it zaps you, except the voltage runs through me all day, every day.
“Instead of judging a book by its cover, if you followed me, within the hour you would see me needing to sit down within 30 mins, then every 10 to 15 minutes after that, you would see me unfold the walking stick that I carry in my bag. You would see me starting to limp, you would see me starting to sway, you would see me tripping over my own feet on deceivingly flat ground.
“You’d suddenly see that I look like I haven’t slept in a month due to fatigue. Perhaps then you wouldn’t judge me so harshly. Perhaps then, you’d understand that not everyone who has a disability is so obvious on first sight.”
To help improve the public’s understanding, the MS International Federation has busted some of the common myths surrounding MS.
Common MS myths and truths
Everyone with MS will end up in a wheelchair.
Most people with MS don’t need to use a wheelchair on a regular basis, especially with early diagnosis and treatment.
MS is the same for everyone.
Everyone’s MS is unique. People may experience different symptoms at different times and the impact of these symptoms can vary.
There’s no cure for MS, so scientists clearly aren’t making much progress.
Research has brought many life-changing treatments that can control or slow down MS and help many people manage symptoms.
People with MS can’t have children.
Having MS should not stop people from having a baby, but careful planning with family and doctors is especially important for people with MS.
People with MS can’t work.
Many people – especially those with less severe MS – can stay in work. Support from employers and fellow colleagues is crucial.
MS is a terminal condition.
While MS can reduce life expectancy, most people live for decades after their diagnosis. This is why it’s considered a chronic long-term condition, not a terminal condition.
A person with MS should not exercise.
Regular, moderate exercise can help with many MS symptoms and benefit overall health and wellbeing.