Three women, three MS journeys: How multiple sclerosis looks different for everyone
Gina, Nathalie and Helga share their reactions to being diagnosed with MS and how they stay informed and positive in the face of ever-changing symptoms.
It’s been 155 years since neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot gave the first lecture on a mysterious progressive illness he called “multiple sclerosis.” Since then, we’ve learned a lot. We know MS causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, including damaging the brain and spinal cord. Resulting symptoms can be debilitating and include fatigue, blurred vision, memory problems and weakness. Huge advancements in our understanding of MS and its underlying causes, as well as treatment advances, have been made in the past few decades, but MS remains a complex and unpredictable reality for the 2.8 million+ people diagnosed around the world.
Ironically, the only real constant for people living with MS is change. There’s no set pattern or standard progression of the disease, so each person’s experience is unique. Some people with MS have mild symptoms that worsen slowly but sometimes improve, while others can have severe symptoms that drastically alter their daily lives.
All people with MS share some things in common, however, such as the need to stay informed on the ever-evolving research, find various lines of support and try to remain hopeful as they continue living with the disease.
To better understand what navigating life with MS really looks like, three women shared their MS stories with us. Their journeys demonstrate how MS can look different for different people and interestingly, how the language used to talk about the disease can greatly impact how people understand their realities.
Gina loves riding her horse, Benita.Courtesy of Sanofi
Gina—Hamburg, Germany (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2017)
When her youngest son was 4 months old, Gina started having problems with her eye. She’d soon learn she was experiencing optic neuritis—her first symptom of MS.
“Immediately after the diagnosis, I looked up facts on MS because I didn’t know anything about it,” Gina says. “And as soon as I knew what could really happen with this disease, I actually got scared.”
As her family’s primary income provider, she worried about how MS would impact her ability to work as a writer and editor. Her family was afraid she was going to end up in a wheelchair. However, for now, Gina’s MS is managed well enough that she still works full-time and is able to be active.
“When I tell somebody that I have MS, they often don't believe me the first time because I don't fulfill any stereotypes,” she says.
Overwhelmed by negative perspectives on living with MS, Gina sought support in the online MS community, which she found to be much more positive.
“I think it’s important to use as many positive words as you can when talking about MS.” It’s important to be realistic while also conveying hope, she says. “MS is an insidious disease that can cause many bad symptoms…that can be frightening, and you can't gloss over it, either.”
To give back to the online community that helped her so much, Gina started a blog to share her story and help others trying to learn about their diagnosis.
Though she deals with fatigue and cognitive dysfunction sometimes, Gina stays active swimming, biking, riding horses and playing with her sons, who are now 11 and 6.
Cognitive dysfunction is common in MS, with over half of people affected. It can impact memory, attention, planning, and word-finding. As with many aspects of MS, some people experience mild changes, while others face more challenges.
Gina says that while there’s still a lot of education about MS needed, she feels positive about the future of MS because there’s so much research being done.
Nathalie is an award-winning rower with multiple international titles.Courtesy of Sanofi
Nathalie — Pennes Mirabeau, France (diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 2002)
Nathalie was a teenager and a competitive athlete when she noticed her first symptoms of MS, but it would take four years of “limbo” before she was diagnosed.
“Ultimately, the diagnosis was more of a relief, than a shock,” she says. “Because when you have signs and you don’t know why, it’s worse than knowing, in the end, what you have.”
However, learning more about the disease—and the realities of disease progression—scared her.
“That glimpse of the future was direct and traumatic,” she says. Her neurologist explained that the disease evolves differently for everyone, and her situation might end up being serious or very mild. So, she decided to stop comparing herself to others with MS.
She said to herself, “We’ll see what happens, and you’ll manage it bit by bit.”
By 2005, Nathalie’s MS had progressed to the point of needing a wheelchair. However, that has not dampened her competitive spirit.
Nathalie began her international rowing career in 2009 and has won multiple world titles, including two Paralympic medals—silver in London and bronze in Tokyo. Now, at 42, she still trains 11 times a week. Fatigue can be a problem, and sometimes hard workouts leave her with muscle stiffness and shaking, but she credits her ongoing sports career for helping her feel in tune with her body’s signals.
“Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to my body, letting my body guide when I need to stop and take breaks,” she says.
Nathalie explains that she used to only look backwards because of the initial shock of her diagnosis. In time, she stopped thinking about what she couldn’t do anymore and focused on her future. She now lives in the following mindset: “Even when doors close, don’t miss out on those that open.” Instead of focusing on what she can’t do, she focuses on the opportunities she still has. Right now, this includes her training for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, where she will compete for another rowing medal.
“I only go forward,” she says. “Well, I try, anyway…It’s easy to say, it’s not always easy to do. But that’s what I try to do.”
Helga's Great Dane has become a helpful and beloved companion.Courtesy of Sanofi
Helga—Johannesburg, South Africa (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2010)
When Helga first started having balance issues and numbness in her feet, she chalked it up to her training as a runner. But when the numbness moved to her face, she knew something was wrong. She never guessed it was MS.
“When I was diagnosed, I felt completely overwhelmed and clueless,” Helga says. “I felt that I had nowhere near enough information. I did not know anything about the disease…I had no idea that it was going to be a process of continually monitoring and adjusting your lifestyle.”
In the beginning, Helga’s symptoms developed slowly, and she didn’t appear ill to others. She was even able to run for a few years after her diagnosis, but she couldn’t do marathons anymore, and she began to fall frequently due to balance issues and right-foot dragging. Then her cognition issues became more problematic, especially in her job as a trainer in a printing company.
“My executive function, decision-making and short-term memory were affected to the point that I was eventually medically unfit for work,” she says. She stopped working in 2017.
However, she didn’t stop living life. Even though she could no longer run, she continued to swim competitively. She got a Great Dane puppy and trained him as a service dog to help her walk. She also serves as vice chair of the patient support organization Multiple Sclerosis South Africa, and she advises others who have been diagnosed to join a patient advocacy group as soon as possible to get reliable information and meet others with MS.
Helga says she is “hopeful” about the future of MS. “I must say that I am so grateful that we have all the new medications available, because my life would not be the same if it wasn't for that,” she adds.
Part of how she manages her MS is by looking at the positives.
“If I could tell the world one thing about MS, it would be that MS is an incurable disease of the nervous system, but it's also the greatest teacher of valuing your health, family, friends, and managing change in your life,” she says. “My life is diversified in a way that I never, ever thought it would, and MS has been honestly the greatest teacher.”
Each MS journey is unique – with each person impacted experiencing different struggles, successes, and feelings as they manage this unpredictable disease. But the common thread is clear – there is a critical need for information, support, and hope. We are proud to participate in World MS Day and share these incredible stories of living life while living with MS. To learn more about MS, go to https://www.sanofi.com/why-words-really-matter-when-it-comes-to-multiple-sclerosis.
This article was sponsored by Sanofi. Participants were compensated when applicable.
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A diagnosed sociopath lets people ask him anything, shutting down myths about the disorder
He was diagnosed at 21 and says the diagnosis was a relief.
The term "sociopath" is something that people don't often understand. The public's exposure to what a sociopath is generally comes from the media depictions, usually in some psychological thriller that portrays the villain as a manipulative, out-of-control killer. They slap the sociopath label on them either in the background information or through inference.
But what is a sociopath? For starters, it's not actually called "sociopath," though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. The correct diagnosis is "antisocial personality disorder," and the Mayo Clinic defines it as, "a mental health condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others." While it's true that people who have this specific type of personality disorder often engage in criminal behavior, that doesn't mean they are going to be unpredictably violent.
Greg, a man who says he was diagnosed with sociopathy around the age of 21, sat down to answer people's questions about the disorder.
When describing what "sociopath" means to him, Greg said that it's someone who has no regard for the safety of themselves or others, impulsive, reckless and "basically like a child." In the sort of rapid-fire setup where people take turns sitting behind a curtain to ask their burning questions, the man appeared relaxed. Surprisingly, he revealed that he was relieved by his diagnosis.
"I had felt out of control and didn't understand why I was doing what I was doing for a long time, so knowing that there was an actual reason behind why I was doing these things, it was really kind of freeing in a way."
One person asked what people most often misunderstand about being a sociopath, and the answer is insightful and informative for people who may be curious.
"Personally, I think that the stereotype is that they're incredibly violent and malicious just to be mean, just for its own sake. At least for me, that's not how it presents," he continued. "More often than not people with antisocial personality disorder, or sociopaths, they're just irresponsible, impulsive people that can lead to being a little aggressive and irritable. But the myth that we're violent and out-of-control monsters is just blown way out of proportion."
He speaks about seeing all relationships as transactional and his lack of empathy and guilt, which he admits has caused relationship issues in the past. The entire interview is fascinating, and you can visibly see the participants' body language relax as they start to have a better understanding of the person on the other side of the curtain. Hopefully, opening up conversations like this will decrease the stigma around certain mental illnesses.
Flying squirrel repeatedly fakes its own death with a broom handle and people are losing it
And the Oscar goes to…
Animals can be far cleverer than we give them credit for, especially creatures we don't think of as having distinct personalities. Most of us expect cats and dogs to do show us their unique quirks, but what about a flying squirrel?
A video is making its way around the internet that has people giggling over the dramatic antics of a large pet flying squirrel. It includes no narration explaining what's happening and no context—it just shows a flying squirrel repeatedly faking its own death by broom.
That's right. Death by broom. And from the way it looks, the little bugger came up with the idea on its own and made multiple attempts to create a convincing crime scene.
This is one you just have to see.
Twitter user @Birrellebee wrote that the squirrel "faked his own death, and created a whole crime scene…for attention. I think I'm in love."
Whether the squirrel really did this just for attention or for some other reason isn't clear, but no one seems to offering a more plausible explanation for it.
\u201cThis flying squirrel faked his own death, and created a whole crime scene\u2026for attention. I think I\u2019m in love. \u201d— Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d (@Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d) 1685808791
While some people have expressed understandable concern over flying squirrels living indoors as pets, we don't know what the living situation here really is. Maybe the squirrel was injured and rescued. Maybe it can't survive in the wild. We simply don't know.
What we do know is that this adorable rodent deserves an Oscar for its performance. The way it gracefully somersaults right into position. The placing of the broomstick on its neck and splaying itself out flat on its back. The checking to see if anyone is looking. The repositioning of the murder weapon multiple times to figure out which one seems more believable.
Was that really what it was doing? Who knows. But it was a genuinely incredible performance nonetheless.
And of course, the people of the internet didn't disappoint in the comments.
\u201c@pimlius @nycsouthpaw Well, maybe he should\u2019ve thought of that, befor being such a wee drama queen. Nobody likes an attention whore.\u201d— Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d (@Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d) 1685808791
\u201c@RIDICULO_pathy @BirrelleBee I love this squirrel \ud83d\ude02\ud83e\udd70\u201d— Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d (@Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d) 1685808791
“@GreigBeck @BirrelleBee @MAllanScott It’s an insurance scam.”
\u201c@GreigBeck @BirrelleBee @MAllanScott It\u2019s an insurance scam.\u201d— Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d (@Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d) 1685808791
\u201c@Marx_Bros_Thing @BirrelleBee Same\u201d— Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d (@Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d) 1685808791
Man lists things millennials grew up with that Gen Z would be outraged by
"Imagine telling them that their free unlimited minutes only started after 9:00 and on the weekends."
There will likely always be some kind of playful generation war going on between older and younger generations. This time it's a millennial throwing what some may deem as truth bombs at Gen Z, seemingly unprompted. (Well, it could be that he's upset that Gen Z is getting all the credit for being tech savvy since the majority of his complaints were technology related.)
Dwight Thomas uploaded a video to TikTok listing things that millennials grew up with that the generation below him would be outraged by. As someone who would be considered an elder millennial by some people, I'd have to agree. The man makes some valid points about things we experienced as teenagers that would likely make teens today aggressively send out Change.org petitions.
"These new-age kids will never understand the struggle. Imagine telling them that their free unlimited minutes only started after 9:00 and on the weekends," Thomas says into the camera.
He goes on to talk about trying to have a love life during those times. Since phone access was restricted, you had limited time to woo anyone after school, which meant the alternative was attempting to do it during school hours. But that was also a problem because teachers were kind of tattle-tales back then, according to Thomas.
"It's not even like you could talk to your friends at school 'cause they would call your house and tell your mama that you didn't care about your education and you wasn't trying to learn," he complained. "Because all you come to school for is to sit around and talk to your friends."
Honestly, the video is causing flashbacks, especially when he talks about teachers intercepting love notes and reading them in front of the class. Thomas jokes about how millennials were making history with their self-taught coding skills on MySpace while the younger generation has the help of AI. The entire video is full of head-nodding moments if you grew up a millennial, or like me, a Xennial. Watch it below.
We was out here making history! But go off though..
Cool video shows woman move an entire colony of bees from an old suitcase to their new home
They were packed up and ready to go.
Bees can make a home practically anywhere, but their location choice isn’t always ideal, both for them and the humans they cohabitate with. Luckily, bee whisperers like Erika Thompson of Texas Beeworks specialize in moving colonies from their unusual makeshift living areas to places much more hospitable.
Thompson has helped relocate countless hives–found everywhere from backyard playgrounds to sheds to compost bins—all while documenting how it’s done. Plus she narrates the process with a voice so soft and soothing it doubles as an ASMR video. But really, it's her signature flair of doing it all with her bare hands that always leaves people completely floored.
Thompson recently rescued a beehive from a particularly unusual spot—a discarded suitcase.
In a clip shared to her Youtube channel, Thompson carefully opened the lid to reveal thousands of insects collected together. After noting that the hive didn’t have any food or signs of new baby bees being generated, she decided to rehome them.
From driving the suitcase of bees in her truck to coaxing them out into their new home with smoke, Thompson makes it all look so easy. She was even able to spot the hive queen, which is basically like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Watch below. Especially for the part where Thompson ever so gently narrates the hive murdering a wasp.
Funny enough, this isn’t even the weirdest item Thompson has delivered bees from. Previous spots include a washing machine, an old chair and even the tank of a thrown-away toilet. But no matter the locale, she’s determined to help the buzz fam thrive.
While honey bee populations continue to be reported as increasing, thousands of other native bee species still face threats of extinction. These bees help pollinate many crops and plants that honey bees do not, especially species that use buzz pollination—a trick involving vibrating to shake off stubborn pollen which honey bees do not possess.
Besides habitat loss, pesticides are the largest threat to our world's most important pollinators. That's why, in addition to rehoming, Thompson also advocates for eliminating the use of pesticides in order to help all kinds of bee populations start buzzing around again.
You can follow along on even more of her bee rescues on Youtube and Instagram.
Student who sent her teachers hundreds of thank you notes gets heartfelt surprise at graduation
Minna Yang began sending notes to teachers in elementary school and never stopped. Those teachers never forgot her.
Many of us have sent a thank you to that one special teacher who really made an impact during our school days. Those standout heroes who taught us how to shine, grow beyond our limitations, and see the beauty of our potential.
However, Minnesota high school senior Minna Yang has gone above and beyond, sending literally hundreds of notes of appreciation to every single one of her teachers. Yes. Every. Single. One.
Yang began this sweet gesture as a shy elementary student and never stopped. Not only did she add new teachers to the list, she continued writing to teachers from her previous years, so the list would grow exponentially. By her senior year, she had 74 teachers and staffers in total who would receive a note.
“It became a mission for her to leave a wake of positivity,” Sarah Wolfe, one of Yang’s teachers, told NBC News.
To respond in kind, Yang’s teachers banded together on their own mission. The day before her high school graduation, a small crowd of her former educators gathered to celebrate Yang's generosity and offer their own words of appreciation.
“I take your note out every time I feel like I can’t do it, and you help me do it,” one teacher said.
Teaching, as we well know, isn't an easy job. And in some ways—especially monetarily—it’s a thankless one. Not getting paid enough while taking on more and more responsibilities has caused many teachers to quit the job they love, after all.
But still, people continue to take it on as a vocation because of an inner drive to help and nurture young people and help them become the best version of themselves. I imagine getting a note does indeed help them remember why they chose the career in the first place. They deserve so much more, yes, but, as we can see from the exchange below, knowing they made a difference in their students’ lives is priceless.
Yang's teachers weren't the only ones moved by her generosity. Several folks commended her attitude in the comments section.
"What's amazingly beautiful is that every teacher seems to have saved the notes she sent them. What a caring human being, one that touched a lot of adults in her life. That is priceless and doesn't happen often."
"She is an upstanding human being who recognizes and respects her teachers who molded her as a person and helped her grow. She is an inspiration to many and will no doubt succeed in life because of her character and the fact that she values the relationships with those who helped her along her journey."
"We need more people like her in the world, especially in this day and age. God bless you Minna in all you do."
Yang might be the student here. But she's giving a great lesson on kindness that we can all learn from.
AI has brought back 15 languages people haven’t heard for centuries. Here's what they sound like.
Fifth-century English is impossible to understand.
Given that language evolves so rapidly, it’s hard to imagine what people sounded like 200 years ago, let alone 500 or a thousand. Even when we watch movies about ancient civilizations, the characters usually speak in a language similar to the audience, giving us a false sense of what people in those times were like.
The folks at Equator AI are giving people a realistic idea of what people in ancient civilizations sounded like by recreating the languages of 15 languages that haven't been heard in centuries. In the video, the languages are spoken by computer-generated recreations of people who lived in that era.
The Equator channel on YouTube has numerous videos that recreate historical figures to make them relatable to people of today. Equator “strives to preserve and revive the past of mankind, making it closer and more understandable for people of our era.”
One of the most interesting parts of the video is the young man speaking 5th-century Old English. It sounds a bit like a mix of English spoken by a modern-day Scotsman with a dash of Latin rhythms and a lot of R-rolling. English has changed so much over the past 1500-plus years that it bears little resemblance to the language spoken today.
“Old English is mind-blowing! How could it sound so different?” TechnoGlowStick commented.
“They really loved rolling the ‘r’s, don't they,” Huai Wei Edmund Teo added.
The video is a wonderful way to visit the past while also a reminder that our language will continue to evolve. And one day, in the not-so-distant future, people will dig up old footage of people speaking English in 2023 and have no idea what they're saying.
Here's a list of all the languages in the video:
0:01 Old Norse
1:29 Middle Chinese
1:57 Old English
2:28 Old Japanese
2:57 Old Church Slavonic
3:26 Proto-Celtic language
3:56 Middle Egyptian
4:26 Ryukyuan language
4:56 Ancient Greek
5:30 Phoenician language
5:53 Hittite language
6:53 Akkadian language