So yesterday I had an appointment with the neurology consultant and now have an appointment on the 16th of May at an MS clinic and I have my MRI (spine) tomorrow at 15:45.
The neurology consultant says although they cannot officially diagnose me with MS yet, he’s convinced I have MS from looking at my MRI (head) and my presenting symptoms (even with me insisting I now feel fine). He told me to tell my travel insurance that I have MS so that I won’t incur extortionate expenses if anything was to happen upon my upcoming visit to California (I live in the UK so I am fortunate enough to have use of the NHS). He suggested I look on the official MS website and decide the first line medication I would like to take to prevent progression. So this is my overview:
Why start early treatment?
I was shocked I would be considered for early treatment given that I don’t yet fully view myself as someone living with’stereotypical’ MS and possibly haven’t yet come to terms with the reality of it. So why start early treatment? Well..
- It improves long-term health and well-being
- Slows down the build up of irreversible damage
- reduces the number of relapses
(MS Society 2017)
Why aren’t more people taking Disease Modifying Therapies (DMT’s) ?
- Access to DMT’s in the UK is low
- The UK employs less neurologists in comparison to other European countries so it stands to reason that people living with MS in the UK may not be able to spend adequate time discussing treatment plans
(MS Society 2015)
DMT’s and clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)
A study into the use of interferon beta-1b in Clinically isolated syndrome showed that it reduced the risk of conversion to definite MS by 37% in early treatment.
The use of Teriflunomide as a treatment in people after a first episode suggestive of MS was found to reduce the conversion rate of clinically definite MS and the number of new MRI lesions.
Treatment was found to preserve the brains grey matter and cognitive function.
(MS Society 2015)
82% of people with CIS and an abnormal MRI go on to develop clinically definite MS.
So there we have it. I have an 82% chance of developing clinically definite Multiple sclerosis. I’m surprisingly fine with that. I am a registered nurse and so I have a bit of background knowledge already (although I am no expert). I have treated some of the most resilient people with multiple sclerosis (perhaps effecting them to a greater extent than it ever will effect me) and they give me hope. It doesn’t have to be bad and it is certainly not a ‘death sentence’. Life is what we make it regardless of our situation.
MSSOCIETY. 2017. Early Treatment [online]. [Viewed 3rd March 2017]. Available from: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/earlytreatment
MSSOCIETY. 2015. Time to act- a consensus on early treatment [online]. London: MS Society. pp.1-10. [Viewed 3rd March 2017]. Available from: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/Time%20to%20Act%20-%20a%20consensus%20on%20early%20treatment.pdf