My MS Is Like a National Weather Forecast
Generalities, vagaries, and nuance punctuated with major storms. Yup, that’s multiple sclerosis.
By Trevis Gleason
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The weather here in Ireland has been historic over the past month or so. We’re near on the longest period without measurable rain ever, have had temperatures the likes of which no one has seen in nearly half a century, and some places have recorded their hottest day in recorded history.
You’d think that a weather forecast during a season like this might be pretty straightforward. But the truth is, no matter the national trends, there are variabilities caused by many factors: Proximity to the sea, elevation, even population size can cause minor changes that might not be reported in the nightly weather report.
It’s a lot like living with multiple sclerosis (MS).
RELATED:My MS: Predictable Only in Being Chronically Unpredictable
Predictions, Like Prognoses, Are Generalities Based on Experience
Like a neurologist informing a patient of their diagnosis with MS, the forecasting officers at Met Eireann (The Irish Metereolgocial Service) have the latest science at their disposal, are highly trained in their field, and are also asked to make predictions that are, at best, generalities based on experience — either personal, or scientifically modeled.
We ask what will happen, and they tell us what they believe may happen, generally. What we really want are specifics as to what the weather (or prognosis) is for our personal experience.
It’s not fair to ask for such specificity, but we all hope for an accurate forecast right down to our street and house number.
Just like those forecasters, MS docs can only give us their professional opinion as to what the next day, next month, or next decade is going to look like for someone living with MS. My MS-specializing neurologist said it best: “Trevis, you’re asking me to read chapters ahead in your life with MS when the next page isn’t even written yet.”
RELATED:With MS, as With Snow, Everything Looks a Little Different
The Specifics Are Different for Each Place and Each Person
Like the weather, MS can be a constant topic of conversation of those around us. “Well, I don’t know what you’re complaining about down there in Kerry; it’s bright and sunny here in Dublin,” is the same as “My cousin’s wife’s sister has MS, and she ‘cured’ it with vitamin B. Are you taking that?”
I thought of this comparison as word came that some light sprinkles may fall in isolated areas the other day. I live in one of those areas, and I can tell you that every blade of grass, every nasturtium, and every withering leafy green growing in my raised beds would love to get even the slightest drink.
It’s the same way I feel when I read research reports on promising new drugs and procedures. It’s what I think of when I wake with more energy than the day before. It’s how I hope against hope when the blazing sun of our disease keeps me behind closed drapery for yet another running period of days on end.
We have grown accustomed to smartphone applications which will give us exact, radar-aided predictions to the minute as to how long a shower will last or for how much longer we can expect the sun to stay out from those passing clouds.
Perhaps some of that pinpoint accuracy is what we expect from our medical teams and from our amateur predictions of our own personal climes.
Sometimes ‘Sunny’ or ‘Cloudy’ Is a Matter of Perspective
The truth is that forecasting a life with MS is like that national broadcast of the weather. We have to make broad sweeps with our arms and say “sunny patches” here, and “showers likely” there.
Most important, though, is knowing that the difference between “partly cloudy” and “partly sunny” in a life with MS doesn’t lie in the actual amount of cloud cover. It’s the way we decide to look at it.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
My book, Chef Interrupted, is available on Amazon. Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page and on Twitter, and read more on Life With Multiple Sclerosis.
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