The basics of daily life can feel debilitating when you have multiple sclerosis (MS). Walking down the driveway to get your mail, traversing the stairs, or spending an hour fixing dinner can wear you out. The stress of not being able to do what you need or love to do can exacerbate the symptoms. The disease can be difficult to diagnose and treat as the wearing away of the nerve's outer covering, known as the myelin sheath, affects different people in different ways. Nerves communicate signals from the brain. When that sheath is compromised, so is communication. Therefore, a trek up the stairs for someone who's managed their MS for 15 years might be more manageable than for another person who's only had the disease for 5 years. Here's why and what to do about it.
MS: Losing Your Nerve
The brain is very complex. Therefore the nerve pathways leading from the brain into the rest of the body are very complex. Take walking up the stairs, for instance. The brain sends your nerves a signal to move your legs up the steps. When that myelin sheath is worn away, the nerve impulses from the brain can get skewed or lost. This makes it difficult for someone with MS to walk up a flight of stairs. The brain has to find a new pathway to send the walk signal. So you may be able to walk up a few steps, but then your legs "lose their will" to go further. So you stop and rest. Your brain knows what you are wanting to accomplish, but your legs won't cooperate properly. Sometimes this happens earlier in multiple sclerosis, sometimes later. Everyone's different because their brain processes the instructions to walk differently.
MS Accommodations That Work
MS is more than a processing disorder, it is also a progressive disease. There is no cure and management is key. If the disease goes into remission for a time, you may feel cured. But one of the four forms of MS is always present. Managing your activities of daily living becomes, well, part of your activities of daily living. You may eventually need a stair lift to go up the stairs in your home. You may need a wheelchair should your MS becomes severe. Allow yourself extra time to do chores around the house or to get up and get dressed in the morning. Stay on your medication and keep your stress levels low. All are accommodations that can help alleviate MS symptoms so you can maintain a good quality of life.
For more information on making life easier for those with MS, talk to a professional like All-Star Lifts.