Living with MS: What are the symptoms?

By Bill Brayer

So many illnesses, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), change virtually everything. Since MS is a debilitating disease with so many symptoms, no known cause or a cure, people with MS are constantly undergoing changes in the way they live. MS is considered to be one of the most —  if not the most — serious neurological diseases there is.

You wake up one morning and ask yourself “What’s the matter with me?” Or something similar. Over a period of time you start to experience one or more of the following symptoms:

•       Extreme weakness – fatigue

•       Loss of coordination

•       Staggering or loss of balance

•       Dragging of one or both feet, (drop foot)

•       Tremors in hands, arms, legs, and/or head

•       Twitching in various parts of the body

•       Prickling sensations in body parts

•       Numbness in hands, feet and possibly other body parts

•       Headaches

•       Loss of eyesight, double or blurred vision

•       Involuntary movement of eyes

•       Sharp stabbing pains behind the eyes

•       Speech difficulties, slurring, stuttering, and repetitive speech

•       Memory loss

•       Bladder and bowel incontinence

•       Pain in various parts of the body

•       Tightness in abdominal area, feels like tight bands around the waist

•       Impotent (ED) – sexual dysfunction, a major reason for a high divorce rate amongst people with MS

•       Mood swings. (This one can be a killer especially between spouses)

•       The appearance of the influence of alcohol. (Carry your disclaimer card with you)

And there are others.

Most of these symptoms are not visible to the naked eye! That is why MS is often referred to as the “Invisible Disease” or the “Snowflake Disease.” If you have MS, you are now a snowflake. There are no two snowflakes alike and there are no two people with MS alike.

Since there are several diseases that share the same symptoms as MS, it makes diagnosing it somewhat difficult.

You hope the symptoms will go away, but they don’t, so you decide to see your doctor. After he/she examines you, he or she sends you to see a neurologist. After a series of more tests, an MRI or a spinal tap, you are eventually diagnosed with having Multiple Sclerosis, (MS) not Muscular Dystrophy (MD): you are not one of Jerry’s kids. Now begins the process of learning to live – cope with having MS.

(Coming in February: MS, a 10-Step Learning Program)

Bill Brayer is President of MSHH Helping Hands and operates the MSHH Donor Closet, which recycles durable medical equipment (DME) & mobility equipment (ME) to people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and others with special needs. The Donor Closet is located at 409 Howell Way in downtown Edmonds behind Petosas. You can reach Bill at 425-712-1807 or by email at

  1. Hi
    I think I have MS. 2 doctors think so far. Meeting with Neuro soon, and they will do spinal tap. 2 Mri’s are fine. I have balance issues numb hand arm and leg at times. headache today 2 hours tightness in head? Feel like you know what I have deppression its worse. ADD? memory concentration always bad worse? Mood swings kicking in. I want to know what is going on. I know I dont have Cancer which is a blessing. Thank you for reading God Bless you who ever gets this

    Take care Tricia

    1. Tricia – I encourage you to reach out to MS Helping Hands in Edmonds. They have monthly support groups for people with MS and their families. The website is

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