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Silence Is Not Always Golden – Sometimes It's Loud

Imagine a classroom full of adolescent students diligently working silently at their desks. Pleased that you could hear a pin drop as the students were going about doing their work, their teacher then, in turn, went about hers. She begins grading papers, lesson planning, etc. At any rate, for all that cannot be ‘heard’ in that classroom, much can be ‘speaking’ loudly inside of the students.

For instance, one may be experiencing a nervous, churning tummy over a test they’re dreading while another has a bad headache from lack of sleep due to an all-nighter on the phone with their beau. Another may be unsettled and worried about an ill parent, and even the teacher could be deeply troubled behind her smile and professionalism about a personal financial situation. All invisible – silent – issues to everyone but the individual who’s dealing with them.

When silence is vs not good

To some, "silence is golden," as in silence being a ‘good’ thing in cases where saying less is more or when it may speak volumes. This is what the age old adage tells us metaphorically. Yet to others, like the examples above, silence is golden – until it’s really not, until it’s not representative of anything ‘good,’ or until it’s actually not quite so silent.

I am others. I agree that, yes, silence can be good – until it’s representative of something that’s not. I have MS. I live with many symptoms and some are lived "out loud," or visible to others. For instance, my inability to walk. Anyone could/can see my impacted mobility when I began using a cane then a walker and now a wheelchair. Also what can be seen are my curled fingers, and even the intermittent tremors may be witnessed sometimes in my arms and legs. With that said, some of my symptoms are visible, and others are not. The latter are referred to as ‘silent’ MS symptoms.

Silent MS symptoms

Examples of the silent symptoms of multiple sclerosis include: fatigue, pain, cognitive problems such as memory loss or trouble solving problems, weakness, blurred vision, numbness, prickly or tingling sensations, heat sensitivity, dizziness, balance/coordination problems, and bowel and/or bladder  incontinence. Additionally, the emotional consequences of MS such as depression or anxiety are considered invisible or silent.1

Someone with MS could be sitting in a classroom, at their job, at church or in a store, at a party.. amongst people.. in the midst of experiencing any of the above symptoms, and no one might ever know. The symptoms are silent to everyone except to whom they are affecting. The MS’r who could be going about in their respective setting and ‘looking’ just fine.

Going on despite symptoms

Like the aforementioned classroom example - the teacher had to teach and the students had to do their work. In spite of the ‘un-golden’ issues that were happening silently, i.e. silent symptoms, they had to go on. And in spite of active silent MS symptoms, I go on, too. I have gone to work, church, appointments, etc. with my face and tongue numb, tingly fingers, pain in my limbs, and handling incontinence issues discreetly, and more.

These silent symptoms are not golden, but I created my own personal adage that I try to adhere to: to overcome and not succumb, no matter what symptoms MS presents.

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