The amount of misinformation I encounter about Multiple Sclerosis continues to astound me. Those of us who live in the MS subculture are exposed to the reality behind the disease via doctors, books, talks, and our own bodies. For the general population, the topic is pretty mundane for the most part. People get sick and usually they get sicker. Not the kind of stuff that makes good press or exciting reading.
My favorite example (in the sense of being my least favorite) was a book I borrowed from my local library recently. It proposed a diet that would essentially cure any auto-immune disease, of which MS is considered one. I’m immediately skeptical of any book making such reckless claims. My suspicions were confirmed early on when I read the author’s list of MS symptoms. Check this out:
- Eye pain
- Numbness, tingling, or pins-and-needles sensation anywhere in the body that doesn’t go away after two weeks
- Swelling of the limbs or trunk
- Intense itching sensation, especially in the neck area
If you have MS, you’d be thrilled if this was an accurate list of symptoms, wouldn’t you? If your doctor talked about MS like this (note that the author claims to be an MD) you’d point your scooter out the door so fast, it would make her fake diploma spin.
Eye pain? Like any good lie, this one has an element of truth to it. Optic neuritis does cause eye pain, but not many people would consider that as serious as the double vision, blurriness, or blindness it can cause.
As for the second item, yeah, those are common, if benign, symptoms. But if you’re waiting two weeks for symptoms of numbness to go away, you’re too patient a patient. Those sensations can be caused by many very serious issues besides MS: diabetes, lyme disease, lead poisoning, and probably more.
The third item completely mystifies me. Either she made that one up or she’s confusing MS with elephantiasis.
The final one is almost as bizarre as the previous one. Yes, I’ve had some itching, but it had little or nothing to do with the neck. Nor was it a serious symptom of my condition.
Beyond the absurdity of what’s present in that list is the absolute inscrutability of what’s missing: How about paralysis? Or the inability to walk, talk, swallow, stand, control one’s bladder and bowels? Do depression, ataxia, or deathly fatigue mean anything to this author?
Somehow, an itchy neck doesn’t put much fear in me compared to that catalog of woes. Needless to say, I returned the book to the library the next day.
So where does one go for reliable advice on MS? Look for some ideas in a future post.