Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

MS Punching Bag

There is this popular article named the “Spoon Theory”… it was written by someone with Lupus, and trying to describe to her friend what it was like living with Lupus… while they were out at a restaurant. I’ve always enjoyed reading it and sharing it with others… since it can relate to MS… but I had an idea of my own that I want to share with everyone.

I have come to describe MS in many different ways, to people who want to understand what it’s like for me to live with it. While I can’t explain everything… I did come up with living with MS is like being a punching bag and hitting a punching bag.

Now to explain…

So with MS, as we know, our bodies (CNS) Central Nervous System is what is affected by multiple sclerosis. It’s known to be an autoimmune disease. So saying that, it’s kind of like we’re getting “beaten up” at times, by our own body… there is no defense to it to complete BLOCK the hits, so to say.

Also, when it comes to doing things in everyday life… it’s like your going against a punching bag… the more you do during the day, the more it comes at you. So look at it like this, every activity you do is a hit to the punching bag… the more aggressive you are with what you’re doing, if it takes more energy from your body and such, the harder you hit the punching bag, that we will say is our MS.

But the thing is… if you hit a punching bag… it doesn’t just back off and not come back at you… the harder you hit it, the harder it comes at you. So this is how I describe to people what it’s like to do things on a day-to-day basis.

If I push my self to clean the whole house, with each room I’m hitting the punching bag… and it’s coming back at me with just as much effort as I’m putting in to my task.

So lets say that I wake up in the morning and I clean the house, run errands all day where I’m having to walk a lot, then I come home and I stand in the kitchen to make dinner after all of this. After eating my dinner, I have to clean up the dishes and then get the kids bathed and in bed, then myself. I’ve obviously had a “knock-out” kind of day, full of things that I did with barely any “resting” time.

Now metaphorically, I would describe this as I hit the punching bag with everything I had… so it got pushed further away from me on the swing… but the next day it comes back with vengeance and slams right in to me. That’s punching bag slamming in to me the next day is my MS coming at me, because I pushed my self to do a lot the day before, and it’s not letting me just knock it around without repercussion .

There’s that saying, “There is always a price to pay”… well that’s my price.

I explain that EVERY task I do during the day does not go unnoticed. Depending on how hard I hit the MS punching bag, that’s how it’s going to measure on how it’s going to come “swinging” back to me – and there is NO avoiding it.

Another thing is, the punching bag can sucker punch you… hit you when you’re not expecting it. This is another thing with MS… While we fight against it to do our daily activities… sometimes it just comes and hits you and you’re laid out flat on the ground… no warning, nothing.

Of course we have “pads” on while fighting the punching bag, that would be our DMD’s (Disease Modifying Therapies)… but it can only block so much… just like the DMD’s can only try and SLOW the progression, not stop it.

It’s a big saying that we are all MS Fighters & Survivors… so that’s what made me think of a punching bag… there is no “delicate” way to put it when describing how life is like to live with this everyday. We don’t know what tomorrow is going to be like… or what we’re going to be like in a year… but we keep fighting.

It’s just difficult to explain how we are fighting a battle against ourselves… so I hope this analogy helped.


Ashley Ringstaff

Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Sue
    4 years ago

    Great analogy. The doctors all recommend physical therapy and swimming. I’m retired, so I exercise four times a week. This strenuous activity “knocks” me out! I take the meds which slow or don’t slow the progression, but the exercise causes extreme fatigue.
    Like you, I feel like I’m being slammed by the punching bag.

  • texascubbie
    6 years ago

    Oh, I like this so much better than the spoons thing for MS… no offense, but I always thought that was kind of sillyish. Why not knives? Or, in this case, punching bags! That’d make a great tattoo too! Thanks!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    6 years ago

    Oh! I’ve been trying to come up w/ a good design of an MS tattoo.. good thought!

  • Musicang
    6 years ago

    I like this analogy! Especially for me. I also have VonWillebrands bleeding disorder. The punching bag pretty literally beats me back. The more tired and cognitively disoriented I get as I push through a long day, the more things I tend to bump into. I get horrible looking bruises and have no clue where they come from because it takes so little for me to bruise. I can tell when I’ve gone overboard and “the big bang” will sneak up soon, if not the next day, just by examining my arms and legs! The more numb spots always look the worse. But life goes on, laundry, homework, lunches, dinners, they all miraculously get done/made and the next day comes! I am currently on a treatment of Decadron (steroids) after fighting first a virus, and now I am pretty sure I’ve been in a full blown relapse since the end of September. I can’t kick it because my “caregiver” doesn’t care. He runs to his Mancave when he gets home and avoids everything telling me I do nothing! I am working on remedying this because suddenly my children are his servants and the oldest realizes it and resents him! This is very bad. The youngest has started to literally use me as a punching bag because he hears his father yell and so he yells and adds fists and kicks! Something has to give!
    Oh, and I have also heard the bee sting therapy one! I actually had a guy sit behind me and watch me painstakingly get my powerchair out (I cannot afford a power ramp or lift, so it takes a while!) After I was finished, I smiled at him and waved. He would not even look at me. Mind you I have our state MS license plate and a placard. Some nerve! Lol!

  • Chrisite
    6 years ago

    I know exactly what you mean about the “caregiver” – my husband of FORTY years looked at me with the eyes of a shark the day I got my diagnosis and said coolly: “I am not interested in hearing about your MS. And I do not intend to help you with anything.” He wasn’t kidding. A few months later I was suddenly hit with one of those “sucker punches” while Christmas shopping in a Target I don’t usually go to but was passing by that day. I suddenly realized I didn’t know where I was and that I was about to collapse so I stumbled out to my car. I made the mistake of driving away and became so confused I got lost and suddenly realized I wasn’t even sure of how to drive. I had the presence of mind to turn into a parking lot and stop. After I finally worked up enough presence of mind to call my husband and told him what was going on, he said, “what do you want me to do about it?” I asked him if he could come and get me and he said, “I have to work tonight and I have to lay down.” And hung up. (He worked nights and liked to take a few hours nap before going in every night.) There have been several more incidents, each more egregious and the last actually endangering my life when he sat and stared at me with those flat shark eyes for 35 minutes instead of calling 911 when I was in a hypertensive crisis and couldn’t breathe. The next day I made him move out. Now it’s just me and my service dog, and I’m starting to realize that I’m good with that. But I do understand what it’s like for you to have to deal with everything yourself and that, too.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    6 years ago

    OMG! I’m so sorry you are going through that…
    I hear about people who have diagnosed and their significant other just “doesn’t care” – and shows no support. I just want to make them MY punching bag, if you know what I mean.
    I’ve been w/ my husband since I was 17 (married almost 8 years)… We aren’t even in our 30’s yet … so I had this “feeling” after I was diagnosed that he would want out… but he surprised me, which I’m very thankful for. He told me that those spouses/significant others that leave are weak and the person is better off in the long run.

    I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts during this hard time… I know w/ kids it’s not easy in the first place… then adding medical issues on top of it just makes things chaotic.

    Best wishes! xoxo

  • Wordsgood
    6 years ago

    Thank you, Ashley. You describe everything MS so incredibly well.

    I saw another description on another MS site where one guy described it perfectly to a few people in his life… “My brain is eating itself.” That’s the best short phrase I’ve yet seen to describe it when people get pushy or judgemental on me. Kind of waiting for a chance to use it…lol!

    I always really look forward to your blog entries. Please keep them coming as you are one of the best “voices” the rest of us have out in the “real” world. Hugs!


  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    6 years ago

    Aw thank you so much for your kind words! It really means a lot to me!
    I know I’m not the “average” blogger/voice for those with MS – or any other invisible illness. I’ve always been known to be anything but “normal”… lol

    I like the “brain eating” thing… That’s a good one.

    I guess since I’m younger than others living/blogging with MS – I have a different way of looking at things and describing them!

    Keeping fighting! You can always interact w/ me on my FB page (it’s easier for me to chat on)

  • VexedOff
    6 years ago

    I would say not only is that an apt analogy, but it is also brilliantly thought out. Well done!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    6 years ago

    Thank you! I really appreciate it!

  • evantal
    6 years ago

    I have been living with MS for over 30 years. To look @ me, you would never know that I have MS. I have probably heard every comment on “The MS Comment List” and I have one to add. “My cousin has MS and does the bee stings and she feels wonderful.” OK – in my 30 years of living with MS – two words that I have never heard from someone w/MS – MS and wonderful. Give me a break! And then there is the jerk in the parking lot that stops and looks @ me when I park in a handicapped spot and says “it must be a mental handicap.” I always say “just because you can’t see it – does not mean it’s not there”! And “If you could see what I feel, you would probably be in a wheelchair.” I have found it is much easier to not talk about my MS with my co-workers. I know they are just trying to be nice but we all know there is no cure. I just wish they would do some research on MS before they say anything. I have always told myself, as long as I keep my sense of humor, I can deal with MS. My favorite saying “Denial is NOT a river in Egypt!” 🙂

  • VexedOff
    6 years ago

    I’ll just be getting my handicap parking thingy shortly soon. All I can say is bravo to you for keeping your cool. Because I’m pretty sure the first person who says something horrible like that to me will be learning a thing or two about ‘the straw that broke the camels back’ on that day.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    6 years ago

    So true.

    I haven’t heard the bee sting one before… but I agree they need to “know what they’re talking about before opening their mouth!”

    You can’t tell I have MS just by looking at me – and I have to use my handicapped parking placard, especially in the Summer Heat of Texas… and I have people tell me “Shame on me for abusing my grandparents parking pass.”

    This was when I was first diagnosed… and still going through the steps of ‘dealing’ with the diagnosis, so I snapped… because I was going to the back seat to get my cane… UGH frustrating.

    I do keep my sense of humor close to me more often now & don’t take things so seriously but sometimes its hard.

  • Tricia
    6 years ago

    Thank you Ashley. This explains it. But, I don’t have to explain it to anyone. Not sure if they don’t care. OR, if they have done the research and are afraid to talk to me. I am sure by just looking at me, it is obvious when I have BAD days, and very bad days. I do have good days. I feel blessed that I can still walk. I push myself too much. I have a 6 month old Grandson that I keep every day, while my daughter works. He reminds me what my purpose in life is. I try hard not to give him a “job” already. He is a complete blessing.

  • VexedOff
    6 years ago

    Personally, I welcome and am glad for the people who WANT an explanation or ask for information so they can learn and understand.
    I do understand that people are uncomfortable talking about it for several reasons. That’s why I try to be as open and honest as possible about it, despite the crap comments or whatnot I may get back.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    6 years ago

    That’s so good to hear!

    I was diagnosed when I was 22… I’m now 26 – the people I know aren’t as educated about MS as those older than them, so I do have to explain it..

  • Josh
    6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing. That is a VERY accurate description.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    6 years ago

    Thank you! I know a lot of people revert to using the “spoon theory” when speaking about a invisible illness, but I just felt like MS couldn’t FULLY relate to the post, even though it’s an amazing description!

  • Mandyrose
    6 years ago

    It seems as if just when we are at the apex of our lives, MS rears its ugly head. I have had MS for 17 yrs now. It was RRMS, at first. Three yrs ago SPMS. Since there are no drugs specifically for SPMS, I opted out of any DMDs. I was just married 17yrs ago. We got back from our honeymoon and BAM- MS. I pray every day for a real CURE. I’m tired of making the drug companies rich, with drugs that only work 30% of the time. It’s just a bad day for me. My legs hurt and it’s hard to stand for long. Getting very tired of feeling tired…..

  • VexedOff
    6 years ago

    Admittedly, I haven’t had much contact with people in our special ‘club’. So I just want to say, it is a great delight and relief that there are people who say the exact same stuff I do. ‘Tired of being tired’ a big one. Certainly not happy you have the disease, but seeing you guys use the words I so often do, is a bit of a comfort.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    6 years ago

    I’m sorry you have progressed in this disease.
    I did attend the 2013 ECTRIMS conference (huge MS conference) and there are studies going on for progressive forms of MS.
    You can check out the coverage that we (MSWorld) did at ECTRIMS this year by going to:

    & I know the whole “Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired” feeling… Keep fighting!

  • Poll