Multiple Sclerosis. There, I said it.

If you’ve read my “A Little About Me” page, you probably saw that I have Multiple Sclerosis. I was officially diagnosed when I was 30, but had symptoms of it since around 21 (can’t remember exactly when it started). I’m not really upset about it as it’s pretty much the norm now, but it can get really bothersome.

In all honesty, I can say I’m thankful. It’s been pretty mild and I don’t need assistance for walking or daily living. If you saw me out and about you would never know I had a debilitating disease; I don’t ‘look’ sick. I have an amazing doctor and team of nurses at the Schapiro Center for MS, a 100% supportive and loving husband, and a helpful extended family. There is so much to be thankful for and I take nothing for granted.

What Exactly IS Multiple Sclerosis?

In the years I’ve had MS, I’ve realized the average person doesn’t actually know what it is or how it affects the body. I’ll give a very quick and simplified explanation of it (since I like things to be simple :).

  1. In extremely simplified terms, Multiple Sclerosis is when the immune system attacks the lining around the nerves in the central nervous system (CNS-brain, brain stem, and spinal cord). It’s one of many autoimmune diseases- a disease that causes the body to attack itself.
  2. Symptoms start popping up when the lining around the nerves is worn away and the signals sent from the brain are delayed and is eventually lost.
  3. The body is affected wherever Multiple Sclerosis is attacking the CNS. No 2 people with MS have the exact same symptoms. It is very hard to diagnose and can take years, although things are improving in that area.
  4. There is no known cause. Certain criteria have been established for people who are likely to get MS, and I happened to meet every single one.
  5. There is no cure for MS

How Multiple Sclerosis Affects ME

In spite of the ‘mildness’ of it, I do have my own set of annoying symptoms and live with the fact that I have an incurable disease. Things could change very quickly and my health could decline with little to no notice. On my bad days I have trouble walking, can’t remember where I put my keys (or kids-yikes!), weakness on my right side, and terrible fatigue.

When the word fatigue is mentioned, the majority of people say, “Oh yeah, I get tired, too.” In spite of trying to sympathize, they don’t understand so I’ll explain a little further. This kind of fatigue stops you in your tracks, fills your pants with concrete, drops you on the couch, and finishes you for the rest of the day. No amount of will-power or caffeine can bring you back from it. Believe me, I’ve tried the caffeine thing and it didn’t work. Have I mentioned I LOVE coffee?

On a daily basis I deal with the loss of sensation and tingling/numbness on my right side. I have to stay out of extreme temperatures and make sure I don’t over-exert myself physically. Stress is a huge factor and I avoid it like the plague. I’ve learned to say NO and mean it, and eliminate a lot of things in my life that were stress triggers.

I Thought this was a Cookie Blog?

So why a post on a cookie blog about Multiple Sclerosis?

2 reasons:

First: Any time I can raise awareness of this terrible disease I will. March is MS awareness month and I like to do my part… so be aware!

Second: I’ve realized I’m limited in what I can do for decorating. Multiple Sclerosis affects me on my right side… I’m right handed… see where this is going? I can’t pipe perfect lines, do a lot of free handing, or tiny details. I just can’t do it. My wrist and hand gets shaky and I end up becoming very frustrated. That cookie that looked so easy to do on Pinterest is impossible for me.

A Can-do Attitude

In writing this post, I almost feel like I’m able to admit this to myself and accept my limitations.

Instead of focusing on what I cannot do, I am determined to do and improve on what I can.

  • Can I bake some mean cookies that taste amazing? Absolutely!
  • Can I still decorate beautiful cookies? Yes!
  • Can I learn new techniques? Of course!
  • Can I learn all I can about blogging and food photography? As we say in Minnesota, You Betcha!

The difference now is I’m not going to beat myself up over cookie outlines that aren’t straight. When I can’t do that intricate lace detail or piping border I’ll be ok with it and try something else that looks just as good.

Multiple Sclerosis is part of who I am but it is not my entire being. Living a full life to its extent and doing things I love is high on my priority list and I won’t let MS get in my way.

To learn more about Multiple Sclerosis, click here.

I’m sure there are some readers out there facing obstacles. It might not be MS, it could be anything, so what do you feel gets in the way of your dreams? How can you overcome it?