People are stupid. Well… not all of them. Well… not you, I’m sure. But for the most part. People are stupid. I know you agree. In all fairness, maybe ignorant is the better term. This may very well be the result of their own choosing, just wanting to be as blissful as possible, and all. Or, they may be overly presumptuous by nature, often confusing their opinion with fact. At any rate, before we go any further, let’s dispell the myths and misconceptions concerning MSA. In layman’s terms.
Because of its rarity, Multiple System Atrophy is widely misunderstood if even heard of at all. “What’s that thing you got again”?
Perhaps the biggest misconception is in the way the disease is acquired. It is not contagious. It isn’t hiding on the shopping cart handle you forgot to wipe down at Winn-Dixie, and for heaven’s sake, it isn’t some evil air-borne particle waiting to be sucked up the nasal passages of its next unsuspecting victim. It isn’t the result of too little exercise, and it certainly is not the result of too much. You cannot jog, pump iron, eat healthier, or take handfuls of vitamins to keep from getting it. It just is. Even the most brilliant medical minds shrug their shoulders when asked how to prevent it, and even more so when asked how to get rid of it. Till death do you part… Which may take a while. They say it progresses quickly, but they don’t have the disease. For those who do, slow and agonizing is a more accurate synopsis, wondering daily which new symptom will join the festivities.
To be as clear as I can be anymore, MSA is a disease of the brain. The brain is the motherboard that controls all else, from blinking an eye to wiggling a toe, to a healthy prune powered bowel movement, to the intimate moments of being with the one you love. When the brain decides something ain’t happening, it ain’t happening. The brain is quite stubborn. Once it dumps something, it’s over it.
Isn’t it strange how some of us revert back to our infancy? In the case of Multiple System Atrophy, life comes full circle. Not all at once. But in time. We end up back in diapers with someone spoon feeding us mushed up meat because we have difficulty swallowing and a fork becomes a pitchfork in our hand. Here comes the airplane! We lay in bed until someone decides to get us up since we lost the ability to do so on our own. Before we get to that point though, unlike a toddler, instead of learning how to walk, we’re trying to remember how. Some of us loose our speech, and in some cases, just like a baby, other people have to make important decisions for us. Cognitive thinking can be disrupted by dementia caused by the shrinkage or total destruction of certain cells resulting in confusion and/or memory loss. Emotional intensity, such as laughing or crying when the situation called for neither, at least not to the extent it was displayed, is a characteristic of a young child, or someone with MSA. As the brain short circuits, emotions are the first capacitors to get zapped.
Anyone can easily do a web search to learn about the technicalities associated with Multiple System Atrophy, but few ever do. Multiple means more than one. System means your entire body. Atrophy means you’re screwed. Not everyone with MSA has all of the symptoms, all of the time. But they’ll run the array before it’s all said and done. I’ve only touched on a few of them. The end results are the same.
Hopefully, what I have imparted has given a clearer description of MSA as it applies to those who live with it. No offense intended. I merely made light of those who may not fully understand the disease, because I didn’t either until the Doctor broke the news. Like many, I had never heard of it.
Just remember one thing. Whether you have MSA, are the caregiver for someone who does, or have no attachment to it whatsoever, every day is precious. Even if you aren’t feeling well.
Until we meet again… For however long that may be… Treat each given day… Like it’s the last you’ll ever see…
For a collection of my short stories please visit “The Authors Hand”