When you’ve been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, all sorts of questions and concerns start racing through your mind:
“Am I going to be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of my life?”
“Will I no longer be able to do the activities I love?”
These are very legitimate concerns and you may even feel as if you’re losing control over your life, which is understandable, but one of the best ways to regain control is by gathering your thoughts so that you can ask your doctor all the right questions.
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease to the damage of the covers of nerve cells which disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in physical, mental and sometimes psychiatric problems. It is the sisease that forced comedy legend, Richard Pryor, into a wheelchair in the last days of his life
With the help of Dr. Bola Oyeyipo, a family physician in San Antonio, Texas, we’re answering some of your most common questions regarding MS so that you can live your best life.
1. “What kind of MS do I have?” There are four types of MS: Relapsing-remitting MS, Primary-progressive MS, Secondary-progressive MS, and Progressive-relapsing MS. Knowing which form you have is essential in fighting the disease because you will know what to expect in terms of how it effects your body.
“The conventional treatment for MS is often not pleasant – injections of immune-suppressing agents so it’s important to know the type of MS you have so your treatment can be tailored accordingly,” Dr. Oyeyipo says.
2. “How far along is my MS?” MS can be difficult to diagnose due to the fact that it cannot be detected by one single test and the symptoms tend to vary from person to person. As a result, many individuals have MS for quite some time before being diagnosed. By then, the disease will have progressed.
“The current way of diagnosing MS is finding evidence of damage in at least two separate areas of the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves,” Dr. Oyeyipo says. “This usually start months to years before the physical symptoms show up.”
She adds, “Knowing the extent of demyelination of the brain and spinal cord helps to guide what treatment options to take. The more extensive the disease is, [the patient will require] a more aggressive approach, [such as treatment] with immunoglobulins and steroids to preserve physical function and to achieve remission.”