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Weathering the Storms of Multiple Sclerosis

A relapse of multiple sclerosis can feel like a sudden and expected storm. A blogger with MS shares how living with MS can feel like preparing for unknown natural disasters.

I’ve just unpacked my suitcase for the last time this year. It’s been a very busy travel year, and it feels great to be home with no imminent plans to spend another night away.

As I catch up with former neighbors and friends back in Seattle (my hometown for many years), I’m hearing of disastrous floods.

Here in Ireland, our little laneway leading to the house has seen a bit of water accumulate when the incoming tides halt drainage and the sloped pasture behind the house sends down a steady course of runoff. We have not, however, seen the devastation that I’m seeing in media images.

I’ve lived through floods, and have lost property and spent months cleaning up debris left by receding waters. And as I think back to those times now, there’s a way in which they remind me of living with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Planning Ahead for Bad Weather

There are sometimes warning signs of oncoming exacerbations of MS just as there are often warning signs of bad storms that forecasters can use to help a community brace for heavy rains.

Sometimes, however, a storm — or an MS flare — can seem to come out of nowhere or be more severe than predicted.

Communities located in flood-prone areas often have emergency plans and runoff diversion schemes, and generally know how to deal with such things. In that way, they’re very much like those of us who have either lived through our share of MS storms or have learned from others how to prepare.

Still, even in places where people have dredged and diked and dammed, and built levies — where sandbags are stocked, and years of floods have been endured — there are times when the rising waters cannot be stemmed and we must rely on emergency plans and the kindness of others.

Waiting Out the Rising Waters

Just as the cascade of symptoms after an MS attack can seem like it will never end, the continuation of rising waters in the days after a storm has passed — while runoff accumulates — can find us with no option but to wait out the worst of the situation until the swirling, black waters of the thing begin to recede.

Then, of course, we must find our way through the new landscape. We must clean up what we can, organize our lives back into relative order, and get on with the living part.

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