Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Can You Imagine?

I wrote this in 2004 to help people understand what it's like to have Multiple Sclerosis. I think it's time for a reprint.

Have you ever had your leg fall asleep? Then you are familiar with that “pins and needles” feeling. It usually passes once circulation is restored to the leg. Now imagine having that “pins and needles” feeling in both legs constantly.

Have you ever had your picture taken and accidentally looked at the flashbulb as the flash went off? Then you are familiar with that “burned out” spot in your eyes. It usually clears up in a fairly short period of time. Now imagine having that burned out spot grow larger and larger until it covers your entire visual field. Then imagine that spot staying with you for months.

Have you ever stood up too quickly and felt dizzy, disoriented? Maybe the room spins? Then you are familiar with vertigo or lightheadedness. It usually passes within a few minutes. Now imagine having that vertigo all day and all night.

Have you ever over-exercised, maybe too much hard work in the garden or too many weekend-sports games, and felt shin splints or sore muscles the next day or two? Then you are familiar with the discomfort of really tight and sore muscles, or “spasticity.” It usually passes in a few days and is relieved with aspirin and BenGay. Now imagine having spasticity in your legs constantly regardless of your physical activity.

Have you ever pulled an “all-nighter,” maybe driving all night or staying up to watch a game that runs into triple overtime or to study for finals? Have you felt really tired the next day, a little weak and unable to think clearly and no amount of coffee with help you? Then you are familiar with fatigue. It usually passes after a day or two of catching up on sleep. Now imagine having that type of fatigue constantly.

Have you ever had a little too much to drink? Maybe had some parts of your body go numb? Maybe been a little dizzy? Maybe a little uncoordinated, tripping over things and not being able to hold you glass very well? Maybe your speech got slurred? Maybe you couldn’t see or think straight? It usually passes when you sober up. Now imagine being like that all the time, without the pleasure of a glass of wine.

If you can imagine all of these things, then you can imagine what it feels like to have just a few of the symptoms of MS. What I described are only some of the symptoms that I have experienced, and I have not experienced the worst that MS has to offer a victim. Can you imagine even worse symptoms?

Now, can you imagine a day when we won’t need to have this conversation? Can you imagine a day when there is cure for MS? Can you imagine a day when there is treatment to reverse the damage that MS has already done? I can. That’s what gives me hope.
And I can’t imagine a life without hope.

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


  1. Very nicely written...this paints such a "thinking" picture for anyone who HASN'T experienced MS. Thanks for posting it...

    Linda D. in Seattle

  2. Nicely done. Just like Cheese says, a thinking picture.

  3. Yeah ... I'm still waiting for my 'One a day MS pill' ... darn it.

  4. it is still hard for me to imagine it and i have MS. the symptoms are so crazy and unpredictable you never know what is coming next. great post.

  5. hey friend...was wondering if you could stop by my blog and read my last post. one of the commenters makes it very clear that we need to have a bit more education about things like depression. i know you might have something to say.

  6. good post. Gives a good mental and visual picture of what it is like. The problem remains that no 2 MS patients are alike and everyone has a "story" to share about how so and so is hardly affected at all..must be her rosy attitude or her new vitamin regime :)

  7. That's a good post, I've experienced all of that to a degree. The eye thing is what got me diagnosed. That drove me nuts! The other stuff I just accepted as what I don't know. I think I chalked it mostly up to working night shift.

  8. just stopping by to say hello...i hope you are doing well!

  9. I saw Lisa's blog and got the linked to yours.

    Good post.


  10. Well said. I was thinking of writing about the sensory expereince of MS. You really describe a lot of it here.