Monday, March 05, 2007

Band of Hope

March 5--11 is MS Awareness Week.

I've written several times about living with MS. I was diagnosed a year ago (Feb. 2006) and am still learning how to live with it. I'm one of the lucky ones with a mild case and have been told the chances are real good that I may never have any dibiltating symptoms. "The chances are good." That's the caveat--chances--because there is no predicting this disease. We know that some things, such as extreme heat and cold, will make symptoms worse. But a full relapse that feels like your body is just giving up on you is hard-to-impossible to predict.

A lot of people ask what exactly MS is. There are standards answers, as stated on the MS Society website:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) isn't fully understood, but many believe it's an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, or CNS. The CNS includes the brain, the spinal cord, and the optic nerves, and it's surrounded by a fatty tissue called myelin that protects the nerve fibers and helps them conduct electrical impulses.

When a person has MS, he or she loses myelin in more than one, or multiple, areas. The resulting scar tissue is called sclerosis. Sometimes the nerve fiber itself is damaged or broken. When myelin is destroyed or damaged, the nerves can't conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain as well. This breakdown is what produces the symptoms of MS.

I like to explain it another way. You know those large, orange extension cords you use outside? When that orange coating (like the myelin) wears away for whatever reason, the wires are exposed. The cord still works, but sometimes it may short and it may not run as well, but it still works. If the cord gets several of those worn away areas, that's just more opportunity for the cord not to work as well. And eventually, that cord may stop working all together because the wires have broken and the connection can't be made. That's when nerve damage occurs--things like the permanent tingle in my left foot, for example.

There is no cure. There have been amazing strides made towards a cure, and there are amazing advances in medication, most of them slowing down the progress of the disease by 40%. The MS Society website does an excellent job of keeping us informed on what research is out there, what advances are being made, and where the government support stands.

Many state chapters will be holding an MS Walk and/or an MS Ride in the spring. I'm planning on joining in, but there is one thing I can do today.

This is the MS Band of Hope. It's another rubber bracelet, which I know seem to be everywhere, but it is a good tool for MS awareness. I've had a few people ask me what my bracelet is for. On a personal note, I like wearing it because it says "Hope" and I like to be reminded that somewhere people I don't even know are working on a cure.

I have 9 child/women and 10 men's bracelets. If you would like one, drop me an email, and I'll send you one through the mail. I won't be able to send them out until after I get back on the 17th, but I will get them out that week of the 19th.

Knowledge is power. So, I like doing my part to keep everyone in the know.

Little Side Note: I may not be posting or reading and/or commenting on everyone's blogs for a while. I leave on Wednesday for Scotland and am busy, busy, busy! I'll try to check things along the way at Internet Cafes, but if I don't talk you before then, have a great couple of weeks. Love, Warrior Lass


Chelle Y. said...

Have a wonderful trip!

Thanks for the information on MS. I have a disorder that affects my nervous system too. It's a pain in the behind sometimes, but thankfully, I have a mild case of it.

susan said...

Thanks for the explaination. Your analogy of the oord makes it clear in my mind what you are dealing with.

her indoors said...

that is a great way off explaining MS, thanks.
Well Warrior Lass hope you have a fantastic time over here, well in Scotland, dont drink too much scotch and dont eat too much haggis!

Peggy said...

Call me when you get here!

Neil said...

Internet caf├ęs in Scotland?!? Good luck finding one of those north of Glasgow airport. We're still getting used to that new-fangled electricity thingy. If you do find one though, email me at 'cause I can probably make it along to the Oxford Bar on the 16th.

Gracey said...

Scotland!! You lucky girl! Have a fantastic time and hope to see you when you get back!

Ellie said...

Thank you for sharing the explanation, I think that everyone is familar w/MS but not with what MS is. I am super excited for you, I hope you have the best time in Scotland!

Kell said...

Chelle--I didn't know that. Yes, they are a pain in the behind sometimes, even if they are mild cases.

Susan--It's taken me a year to figure some of this stuff out!

Her--Thanks! Can't promise on the whisky, but can definitely promise on the haggis ;-)

Peggy--Will do. Hope we can get together.

Neil--I'm hoping for a computer in a pub, actually; we'll see. If I can get to one, it would be great to meet you.

Gracey and Ellie--Thanks. I'll come back with lots and lots of stories.

Queen of Dysfunction said...

Wow, I had no idea you were living with MS, or that there were different mainfestations of MS. Holy cow, thanks for informing us. It's very interesting and I have to admit I'm relieved to hear that the chances of yours not becoming debilitating are good.

Patsy said...

You did an excellent job of explaining MS to the crowd! You did as well as I would have and I am a retired RN. Have a great time in Scotland and don't get yourself to tired.

Tink said...

I've always wondered what MS was exactly. I like your explanation a whole lot better. Have fun on your trip! Take lots of pictures!

Newt said...

Hope you're having a blast Warrior Lass! We miss you.

Lisa said...

Enjoy the trip, Warrior Lass! I'll be giving to my colleague, who is riding an an MS bike event. I'll do it in honor of you, and of my Mom's best friend who has MS: two cool, strong and amazing women, you are!

Lena said...

My son's friend's mum has MS too, and I only really learned more about the condition from him.

My e-mail address is on my profile. Do enjoy Scotland - I think the weather's to behave itself here for your visit!! Fingers crossed!

her indoors said...

ya back yet, ya had a good time cant wait to read all about it