Three Tips for Dating with Multiple Sclerosis
Receiving a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can feel overwhelming, and you may assume that dating will no longer possible. However, new treatments have enabled people living with MS to forestall disabling symptoms for a far longer time period than in the past. The typical onset of MS symptoms is between 20-50 years of age (per the National Multiple Sclerosis Society [NMSS]). Tingling and numbness in legs and feet are often the first symptoms experienced by a person afflicted with MS, but these symptoms may be caused by many other disorders.
Regardless of the initial symptoms that resulted in a doctor’s visit leading to an MS diagnosis, you do not have to resign yourself to remaining alone if you really want intimacy and/or marriage in your future. The following describes the most common forms of MS and their symptoms, as well as three tips for dating with specific MS symptoms.
What is Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis?
Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS) is the most common of the three forms of MS, and also the most treatable form. Unlike Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) or Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS), symptoms can spontaneously appear and disappear in people afflicted with RRMS. Weakness in the feet and hands (and blindness) can occur, but can also spontaneously resolve. Emerging treatments are enabling people with RRMS to avoid developing most of the symptoms leading to an inability to perform in a workplace role.
Notably, an article in 2018 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry reported that early treatment can halt neurological damage from MS from worsening, so beginning a medication regimen as soon as possible after an MS diagnosis is crucial.
Two Types of Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
In contrast to RRMS, the neurological damage associated with Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) or Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS) is typically not reversible. However, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) notes that only 15 percent of all people with MS are diagnosed with PPMS. Meanwhile, SPMS usually occurs in people diagnosed with RRMS who do not receive early treatment.
Since the neurological damage that occurs with these two above-described MS forms is irreversible, people diagnosed with either PPMS or SPMS are more likely to have more obvious symptoms (e.g., an inability to pick up a fork). The NMSS notes that 50 percent of people with RRMS who do not take medication develop SPMS within 10 years.
Once damage to the myelin sheath occurs (due to the immune system attack on the central nervous system), it is more likely to become even more damaged. This is why medication plays such an important role in preventing the neurological damage leading to paralysis.
Dating Tip Number One – Recognise and Respect Your Own Limitations
You may not be able to walk without a cane to meet your date, so it makes sense to use it when needed. While your mobility may not be affected to the point of needing a wheelchair, your date will not appreciate it if you try to hide (or minimize) a real disability.
There is nothing shameful about needing a cane (or a wheelchair), or being unable to pour yourself a glass of water from a pitcher in a pub. Most people like to help strangers who need assistance, and you probably do not want to begin an intimate relationship with someone who displays no compassion for disabled people. Therefore, hiding your disability from your date will not enable you to know whether you have really met a man or woman you might want to eventually marry.
Dating Tip Number Two – Coping with Fatigue
People living with MS often experience periods of fatigue (and hot weather is more likely to produce a feeling of tremendous fatigue). If you are dining in a pub or restaurant in summer that does not have air conditioning, you may feel fatigued more quickly than usual. For this reason, choosing a comfortable place for a date (that is not over-heated due to lack of air conditioning) is advisable.
Dating Tip Three – Coping with Cognitive Impairments
Many adults who have lived with MS for a long time experience some short-term memory loss. This is one of the most embarrassing symptoms of MS, and one that you may need to explain to someone you are dating. Otherwise, your memory impairment (or pseudobulbar affect – resulting in inappropriate laughing or crying) may be misunderstood by that person.
One way to cope with short-term memory loss is to keep a journal to jot down important things you learned about the other person on each date that you want to remember. Meanwhile – if you know that you have pseudobulbar affect – it is best to tell the man or woman you are dating as soon as possible about this affliction.
Utilizing an online disabled dating platform to meet compatible people to date is as much an option for adults with disabilities as anyone else. You may even meet someone with a hidden disability that shares the same hopes and fears as you. There is someone who understands the issues faced by people with MS that will be interested in dating you, so go ahead and take a chance!