Before I talk about my journey with this neurological condition, I would like to explain a little bit about what Multiple Sclerosis is about ? Various types of MS conditions and the treatments available at present –
What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) ?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory neurological degenerative autoimmune disease where the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in wide range of signs and symptoms, including physical, mental and sometimes psychiatric problems. Each nerve fibre in the brain and spinal cord is surrounded by a layer of protein called the myelin, which protects the nerves and helps electrical signals fro the brain to the rest of the body.
In MS, this myelin gets damaged causing signals not to pass through the body. Symptoms such as loss of vision, spasticity (muscle stiffness which can lead to uncontrolled muscle movement), ataxia (difficulties with balance and co-ordination), fatigue (continuous tiredness throughout the day).
Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis can be complicated as no single laboratory test can positively diagnose it. Its a factor of a lot of various tests that are carried out by a neurologist along with evidence of two separate attacks or relapse. Test normally taken are a neurological examination, magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) scans of the brain and spinal cord, evoked potentials test, lumbar puncture or also called the spinal tap and blood tests. Once tests are taken, studied and the diagnosis are confirmed of being MS, the neurologist can identify which type of MS the patient has.
Multiple Sclerosis attacks people differently and not every person will experience the same level of symptoms. The experience of a new or old recurring symptom in MS is called a relapse (also called an attack or a flare-ups).
Various Types of MS
Relapsing remitting MS
Around eight out of 10 people with MS are diagnosed with the relapsing remitting type of MS. Someone with relapsing remitting MS will have flare-ups of symptoms, known as relapses. These can last from a few days to a few months. These will be followed by periods where symptoms are mild or disappear altogether. This is known as remission and can last for days, weeks or sometimes months.
Secondary progressive MS
Usually after around 15 years, around half of people with relapsing remitting MS will go on to develop secondary progressive MS. In secondary progressive MS, symptoms gradually worsen over time. Some people may still have relapses, but without full recovery from symptoms.
Primary progressive MS
The least common form of MS is primary progressive MS. In this type, symptoms gradually get worse over time and there are no periods of remission.
There is currently no cure for MS but there are a number of treatments that can help. Relapsing remitting MS can be treated with disease-modifying drugs. These are designed to reduce the number of relapses someone has. They may also be able to slow the progression of MS. But they are not suitable for all people with MS.
Some of these drugs can also be used for treating secondary progressive MS, if someone is still experiencing relapses. At the moment, there is no treatment that can slow the progress of primary progressive MS. There are also a wide range of treatments, including physiotherapy, that can help relieve symptoms and make day-to-day living easier. Steroids can also be used to speed up recovery from relapses.
My Journey in time
My first episode Age 21 (New Delhi, India) – Tingling and numbness on the left hand-side of the body. Did not know I had Multiple Sclerosis and within a month I was back to normal.
After a gap of 6 years I experienced my second MS episode of optic neuritis and partial blindness in my left eye. MRI scans with history and examinations were carried out by a neurologist in India who diagnosed me with Relapsing remitting Multiple Sclerosis. I was put on IV steroids and got back to good health within a month or so.
My third episode occurred in the UK and it was again numbness / tingling on my left arm. Officially got diagnosed with relapsing remitting Multiple Sclerosis in the UK with the NHS. All tests were carried out and referred to consultants and the MS team at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh and further transferred to the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic in Edinburgh.
My fourth and recent episode which effected by balance, walking and co-ordination. The team at Anne Rowling Clinic was there to support me and with steroid treatment slowly got my strength back. A good amount of time was spent at a physiotherapist and keeping on top of balancing exercises. I was put on DMD (Disease Modified Drugs) which are of injection form and take every other day at present.
In 2014 my wife took part in the BUPA Great North Run where she ran for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and raised over £723. We thank people for their kind support.
At present I get myself checked every six months at the Anne Rowling Clinic. I am well and with good health at this moment. I try and make it to the gym thrice a week and volunteer at a disability center in Edinburgh which gives me lots of inspiration, happiness and always have a positive attitude to my future ahead.