On the day of my diagnosis my Neurologist told me that there are hundreds of people living in our city who have MS – and you’d never know by looking at them. Everyday we must walk past several fellow MSers and not even know it. This actually made me feel a little brighter until, that is, I started imagining scenes from ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’… You never know who may have been invaded by the MS aliens. “Watch out! They get you while you’re sleeping!”… Seriously though, in those early days I couldn’t help but wonder what ailment afflicted every disabled person I saw. I began to convince myself that any young person with a stick or chair must have MS too; surely no other condition even existed?! Should I approach them? Should I ask? I wondered. Don’t worry, I didn’t. But even now I can’t help thinking that the remotest limp or stumble from a passer-by must = MS.
Percentage-wise MS figures are pretty low. Around 110,000 people have it in the UK, with 164 in every 100,000 diagnosed with the condition in England – That’s a measly 0.164%, if my calculations are correct (and they might not be, maths was never my thing). There is a reason why I mention these numbers. You see, I seem to be surrounded by other MSers; everywhere I go I feel as though I encounter more and more. OK, so you’d expect to find a high prevalence of MS in an MS Centre, and of course you’re gonna meet some more if you mingle in MS support groups like I occasionally do – but what about your workplace? (2 of us, that I know of) Or the playground during the school run? There are 4 of us that I am so far aware of, and that’s only counting people I’ve managed to speak to – how many more must there be lurking around waiting to be discovered? In fact, I’m thinking about starting a club called The Club For Parents With MS Whose Children Attend This Tiny Village School – Based on the stats so far, I’m sure there would be enough demand for it. Three of us have a child in the same flippin’ class! That’s 12.5% of the class who have a parent with MS, which is way way way above the national average.
You may be wondering how on Earth I know that these parents have MS… Well, with the first of my discoveries it really was a simple case of innocently chatting and then a sudden realisation, at which point we merrily high fived each other using our sticks. I’ll admit that another of the parents involved a bit more quizzing on my part, you see she was using a wheelchair and I noticed the hand controls in her car – a perfect excuse to get talking! But honestly, what were the chances that she actually DID have MS?!
MS has got to be one of the most common of uncommon conditions.