Jennifer’s Interactive MS Patient Journey
Life with multiple sclerosis does not always start at diagnosis. For many people, the first sign of MS comes years before diagnosis, when the first symptoms begin to appear. Numbness, blurry vision, muscle weakness – seemingly disconnected symptoms that are easy to explain away at first but eventually lead to a series of doctor appointments, tests, and, finally, the diagnosis of MS.
MS symptoms can range widely, from speech problems to pain to debilitating fatigue. No two people experience the same symptoms, but there are some similarities between different people living with MS.
She was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS at age 36 after experiencing her first symptoms a few years earlier. She has been living with MS for a couple of years now and is coping with the physical and mental challenges that affect her daily life. Below you can learn more about how MS is impacting Jennifer.
Areas of Body Affected
Jennifer’s physical MS symptoms flare up at different times. Unexpected leg weakness affects her when she feels overheated. Looking down to tie her shoes sometimes causes an electric shock sensation to run down her back. At bedtime, she struggles to fall asleep because of burning pain and muscle spasms. These symptoms are just a few that many people with MS manage every single day.
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Managing all of her symptoms is almost a full-time job in itself, so after a long day of working at her real job, Jennifer comes home exhausted. She has little energy to make plans with friends and family, and feels lonely and isolated a lot of the time. She worries that her friends do not understand the unpredictable nature of her MS. Jennifer is concerned about “imposing” on her friends by suggesting plans that might make it easier for her to participate. She feels guilty about not responding to messages, but sometimes she just does not know what to say.
Dealing with a Relapse
Jennifer has experienced a relapse this past year, and she’s still not feeling completely back to normal after her most recent exacerbation. At her neurologist appointment, Jennifer’s doctor went over her MRI scans which showed new lesions. She was disappointed and stressed about the possibility of another relapse and having to take more time off work.
Unsure of what a new lesion on an MRI means?
Learn more about different types of brain lesions.
Tired of getting MRIs twice a year or more?
Get tips to fight MRI fatigue.
Worried about missing work due to an MS relapse?
Understand how FMLA can help.
Still recovering from a recent relapse?
Check out a survival guide to help you get through it.
Concerned about managing your stress levels and triggering another relapse?
Recognize common triggers and how to manage them.
Jennifer’s last flare was especially hard on her. It can be difficult not knowing what to expect when a flare hits. Sometimes they’re mild. Other times, they’re more severe.
How severe were your MS symptoms during your last relapse?
In the past month, Jennifer has been feeling dizzy and lightheaded. She’s also noticed that she’s had more headaches than normal. She was surprised to learn that these are lesser-known MS symptoms. In fact, her doctor mentioned that there are a number of “unusual” symptoms associated with MS, such as itching or feeling like your legs are soaking wet.
After her last MRI showed new lesions, Jennifer started doing more research online so she is better prepared for her next doctor’s appointment. Her family is involved in her treatment decisions – and she’s grateful for their support. Jennifer is slowly learning how to become her own advocate and to ask for help when she needs it.