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The silent passenger

So calling it an invisible illness is a well-known alias for MS, but I assumed, being an MS patient, that this invisibility only applied to people looking at it from the outside, never to myself…

That was until I went to see an eye doctor because of an ongoing pain behind both eyes for several months. I suspected it could be a “bonus symptom” of MS, i.e. a symptom not directly caused by an attack but rather caused by the brain’s over-exertion to find ways around the old lesions. Surely it could not have been an attack that lasted for three months, so I kind of ignored it, until it got too annoying and I started to get a bit worried about it. After all, a relapse is not the only health problem an MS patient can be exposed to. So I finally went to see an eye doctor who very kindly comforted me telling me that everything looked perfectly fine and that it definitely didn’t look like a relapse. He asked me what it was that brought on the definite diagnosis. “Double vision,” I said. With a hesitant voice, he added that the last time I’d seen him, according to the records, I also saw stains through one eye, which, he suggested, probably was a first attack. “When was that?” I ask him.

“In 2010.”

What?? I couldn’t even remember it, but did this mean that I have been living with a silent passenger for 4 years without noticing anything? And then, after sitting down to process the news for a while, memories started to flood in…
Aaah, yes. I remember those stains. In fact, I also remember numbness on one side of the face a year before that. And, oh, how the room was spinning in 2011 and how crooked the world did look at some point in that same year. Ah yeah, I remember how my foot started dragging every time I went for a run, making me abandon running without questioning the reason why.

After enjoying a slight feeling of satisfaction about things making sense all of a sudden, grief and concern took over my emotions. Grief because I could have taken better care of myself, the so-called health freak yogi that I am, but there’s no use crying over spilt milk. Concern because it’s unpleasant, to say the least, to think that someone has been living with you for all these years without you noticing it.

Now I’m aware of this new tenant and I have made room to accommodate it. At this point I can only wish that there had been more openness between us and that demands had been stated clearly before, perhaps then we could live in a more peaceful environment. But do come in. Just try to keep the music down and wash up after yourself, man.

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.


  • north-star
    4 years ago

    I went without questioning events that happened during my relapsing-remitting days. I knew I had MS, but early on I didn’t connect things like a fall down our front stairs as being caused by MS. It wouldn’t have made a lot of difference if I’d connected the dots, and I think I was better off in denial. Ultimately, MS does what it does, all you can do is pick the DMT that you tolerate best and watch your feet.

  • Sebastian Mortensen author
    4 years ago

    I’m terribly sorry if this was offensive to anyone. I solely meant to try to come to terms with this new condition that is set in my life by trying to understand and recognize its cries for attention. I know it wouldn’t have changed much anyway had I paid attention to them before, but it somehow makes me feel like I can explain (with a very vague explanation) past events and symptoms. And sure, denial helped seeing as I wouldn’t have been able to handle the news back then anyway… Not that it’s much better now, but at least I have a more mature attitude towards life.

  • isha.louise
    5 years ago

    I’ve lived on Guam my entire life. Guam is known to have hot and humid weather. I lived my whole life in the sun without a second thought. It wasn’t until this year that I started having problems with my vision and collapsing. Being diagnosed with MS didn’t make much sense to me. I lived an active life and ate properly. After the diagnosis, I thought back to all the signs that I had written off as me just being clumsy. It still made zero sense.

  • Sebastian Mortensen author
    4 years ago

    I’m sorry if this was offensive to you. I was making a, seemingly failed, attempt at coming to terms with something by at least trying to trace its early steps. No, it didn’t help much either, but at least I understand now why I have those recurring symptoms when I’m tired or ill or why my eyeballs hurt constantly. Again, sorry.

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