Celebrities with Multiple Sclerosis


Most gals love and sometimes identify with "The Sweetest Thing," an adorable romantic comedy with three awesome comedic actresses.

Sadly, two of the stars, Selma Blair and Christina Applegate, have shared that they have multiple scerosis.  And there are other stars who have battled with this condition with great dignity, like these two.

Annette Funicello, Teri Garr, Jack Osbourne, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Montel Williams, Clay Walker, and many more have dealt with the debilitating condition of multiple sclerosis.

The Mayo Clinic explains it well - 

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).

In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.

Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely and depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Some people with severe MS may lose the ability to walk independently or at all, while others may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms.

There's no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.

Let's look at odds to give us a perspective.

In the general population 1 in 750-1000 gets it

Within a family - 
1 in 5 if an identical twin has MS
1 in 22 if a nonidentical twin has MS
1 in 37 if a sibling has MS
1 in 67 if a parent has MS

With MS, an abnormal immune system response causes inflammation and damage to the central nervous system and myelin sheath protecting nerves. Environmental factors for MS include viruses, infections, smoking, obesity, and geographical location (including the northern U.S., southern Canada, parts of Europe, southern Australia, and New Zealand).

Low vitamin D levels in the blood have also been identified as one of the risk factors for MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Ongoing research and clinical trials are investigating the role of vitamin D supplementation in supporting immune system function, which could protect against immune-related diseases such as MS.

It's common for people to read about celebrities and others with MS and begin to focus on their own risks. We are suddenly aware of something people we know have developed and so we naturally ponder our own chances. 

Here's a good perspective

1 in 3 people will develop some form of cancer
1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives
1 in 9 men will develop prostate cancer
1 in 20 people over the age of 65 have dementia
1 in 22 people have chronic heart disease
1 in 33 people have diabetes
1 in 500 people have Parkinson's Disease
1 in 520 people in England and Wales have a stroke each year

We may not be fated for a condition as debilitating as this one, but we can certainly consider our lifestyle, stress levels, vitamin D and immune system strength. 

As I am recovering from Bell's palsy brought on by a weakened immune system, exhaustion, and inflammation from a cold sore, I realize how much stress affects the physical. 

I have had more stress than my entire lifetime combined in the past few years. It is a nonstop, muscle-tensing, rushing around like a chicken-with-its-head-cut-off scenario in which when I do remain still to fall asleep, all the next day's, next week's, next year's worries roll around in my head like marbles in a cloth bag. I haven't just been responsible for myself. 

I have been a caregiver and that is a responsibility I take very seriously. And while it's an honorable thing to care for someone else's needs, it is a crime to ignore your own. Many times in the past three years I have exhausted myself beyond belief trying to manage everything, anticipate needs, while missing a shower that day or getting little sleep, forgetting to take my vitamins, lucky to brush my teeth. 

What does this do to the body over weeks? Months? Years? Decades? 

I have learned, having to slow down to get my immune system happy and my Bell's palsy gone, that the worry isn't what protects you from any bad fate, it's the lack of belief that it is happening as it should and will all turn out fine. 

If I had a friend that rushed around doing 80 things at one time, feeling responsible for the world, and neglecting her health and well being, I'd be seriously concerned. And yet, when it was me doing it, I thought "I can handle it, I'm strong." 

But I was  "handling" it as a hot potato.

Rethink your priorities. Be aware of your blessings. Take care of you first.

To follow my progress on Bell's palsy recovery, check out my post HERE.