I hate to say it, but things were much simpler in the good ol’ days of the early internet in the late 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s. People, organizations, and companies could be more honest, not so politically correct – nor so worried about getting sued for simply being honest and telling specific truths like they are now.
And that includes truths about the early symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
I’m not going to name names and throw anyone under the bus, but a large organization that successfully raises millions of dollars every year for MS research was really helpful for me in 2000 – the night before I was diagnosed. I’d been told four years earlier that I “might” have MS, and to wait for a second and different symptom.
Yes, I could tell that I was indeed having that “second and different symptom,” so I went on this organization’s website for confirmation of my suspicions. The very first thing I saw on their home page answered my question. And I’m very grateful for that.
The Big Three Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
This is what that website said which was so helpful to me the night before I was diagnosed. Thanks to that website, I knew I’d be diagnosed with MS the next day.
The most common symptoms that people with MS experience are:
…And that’s it. It now takes three clicks to get a list of common early MS symptoms on that same website, and it lists 14 different symptoms!
When an MS Diagnosis Is Obvious
In my case, four years earlier, I’d had partial blindness in my left eye that lasted for five months, and I was told it was optic neuritis – and that it might, just might, indicate MS. I was now (in 2000, at age 29) having numbness that was becoming worse and worse by the day.
The numbness started with my left thumb and kept spreading up my arm and crawled down the left side of my body over the course of about three weeks. I was having difficulty typing with my left hand, and that lasted for about six weeks before I could type normally again.
So yes, I’d had two of those big three symptoms. I knew that a neurologist would be looking for a “second and different” MS exacerbation before I could be officially diagnosed and put on a medication. So I knew what the neurologist would say the next day.
How Many Symptoms Are Needed for an MS Diagnosis?
Fortunately, they don’t wait anymore if you’re a “classic sclerotic” – which is what my book’s Foreword author said his diagnosing physician called him back in 1975 when he was 35.
Nowadays, if you’re “otherwise healthy” but you’re in your 20s or 30s and you suddenly have a case of debilitating numbness or partial blindness or problems walking, a good neurologist will go ahead and give you a preliminary diagnosis.
The doctor will likely not wait for a second and different symptom before putting you on one of the MS medications. But if your doctor is skittish about diagnosing you, get a second opinion.
And you’d be smart to start taking the MS medication right away. You probably won’t have to give yourself a shot like in the old days (just a few years ago!), you can take a pill instead.
Can I Live a Normal Life with MS?
But medicine isn’t all you need to do to keep this thing a private matter – so you’ll only have to tell people about your condition if you feel like it. In “Game Over, MS,” I talk about the several other key things to implement in order to keep yourself perfectly healthy despite a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
There are certain supplements to consider taking, there are two main foods you should stop eating (only two, to keep it as easy as possible), and a few things just to keep in mind.
I like to haIf-joke that if God gave you the choice of whether to have MS, cancer, or a heart condition, you’d be smart to tell Him MS. (Neil Cavuto of Fox News has had all three and is fine!) Look forward to enjoying a normal and active lifestyle!