It’s on the Inside: Living With an Invisible Illness
- by Melissa L.
- September 24, 2018
Melissa L. is a paid Advocate for Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
“But you look so good; you would never know you have MS!” This is something I hear whenever someone finds out I have been living with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). When you look at me, you see a woman who is a wife, mother, preschool teacher and volunteer. You see someone who exercises, drives in a carpool, attends sporting events, participates on school boards and more. What you do not see is a person who has lived with a chronic illness since 2002. Some people with MS, like me, have symptoms that cannot be seen from the outside. The majority of my RRMS symptoms are fatigue, cognitive issues, weakness, blurred vision, tingling and numbness, to name a few.
I know everyone gets tired, but I experience a fatigue like no other, a fatigue that is hard to explain unless you’ve actually experienced it. From the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed, fatigue is present. Unfortunately, as a mom of two busy boys, lying down is something I do not do often. As a mom with RRMS, I tend to feel somewhat guilty. There are times when I am unable to participate in family activities because of my fatigue. I also need to go to bed early because by the end of the day, I am exhausted.
As we get older, we all become somewhat forgetful, but cognitive issues are very common and can affect the daily life of somebody with MS. From not remembering whether I closed the garage door to referring to my children by the dog’s name, my cognitive issues are present. These are not major problems, but sometimes I feel absentminded. In my home and car, you will find sticky notes everywhere. I tell my family to write down whatever is needed, because if it is not written down, I may not remember! My boys have a hard time understanding this, because they feel there is no reason why I should not remember certain things. My husband likes to call me “two-time Melissa,” because there are times when I will ask a question, and a few minutes later, I will ask the exact same question again. When issues like these arise, I feel I need to remind my family that I need their support, because I have RRMS and cognitive issues affect me a great deal.
Living with these invisible symptoms can be frustrating at times. I think people tend to forget that I have a chronic illness because “I look so good.” Sometimes, a gentle reminder and continuing to educate my family and friends about RRMS and how it affects me goes a long way.
COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), to include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease, in adults.
Do not use COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.