Finding Support Through MS
- Selma Blair, 50, said she noticed multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms in her friend and fellow actress Christina Applegate, 51, before the “Dead to Me” actress was diagnosed in 2021.
- Blair has been living with MS herself and has been candid about how the disease has affected her life.
- Common symptoms of MS include numbness/weakness in the limbs, fatigue, lack of coordination, unsteady gait (or trouble walking), blurry vision, and more.
- Having a friendly support system to lean on can make the situation seem a bit less lonely and can help you in processing your emotions through the journey.
Blair told People that she noticed Applegate had some unusual symptoms while they were having a playdate with their children — Blair’s son, Arther, and Applegate’s daughter, Sadie.Read More
Applegate has admitted that the Netflix drama/comedy may be her last on-screen appearance. Still, Blair also noted that it’s fortunate the two pals have each other to lean on while living with the difficult disease.
“We check in all the time,” Blair said. “We live right by each other. Our kids were best friends. It’s just wild that one of your closest people gets the same supposedly incurable disease as you. It’s truly been a really strange, magical time, for lack of a better word.”
What Are the Symptoms of MS?
MS is a disease that affects the brain and the spinal cord. When someone has MS, their immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers fibers, which can lead to communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms include:
- Numbness/weakness in the limbs
- Electric shock-like sensations with certain neck movements
- Lack of coordination
- Unsteady gait (or trouble walking)
- Loss of vision (partial or complete)
- Blurry vision
- Issues with sexual, bowel, or bladder function
- Slurred speech
- Cognitive problems
- Mood disturbances
It is recommended that people experiencing these symptoms for an unknown reason seek medical care.
Finding Your Support System
For Applegate and Blair, having each other to lean on while living with a challenging, life-changing disease can make the situation seem a bit less lonely, and perhaps even less daunting. Having a good support system around you can make a world of difference when it comes to facing serious illnesses like MS or cancer.
Sarah Stapleton, a clinical social worker at Montefiore Medical Center, told SurvivorNet that social workers can help direct patients who are struggling to connect or handle a diagnosis emotionally to support groups, mental healthcare, and other resources.
Sarah Stapleton explains how social workers can help patients find the emotional support that they need.
“When you’re feeling overwhelmed by emotions, social workers can often help direct you to individual counseling, either within the clinic or outside of the clinic,” she explained. “They can also help you, hook you up with support groups — there are support groups that are disease specific, that are gender specific. Depending on the clinic where you may be getting care, there are more broad groups.”
However, support groups are not for everyone. Some patients may feel uncomfortable in this setting and find it creates anxiety, or simply doesn’t help in the way they need it to. This is OK, too.
In a previous conversation with SurvivorNet, breast cancer survivor Bethany Kandel explained that she attended a few support groups after her diagnosis — because she thought she was supposed to. But she quickly realized that, while hugely valuable for a lot of people, group sessions were not for her.
Support groups aren’t for everyone, breast cancer survivor Bethany Kendal explains.
“I went to a support group, because I thought it was what I was supposed to do … I thought it would be helpful,” Bethany says. “It was a room of lovely women, but each one had a worse story than I did … all these complications, and horrible scary things. I actually had to leave the room.”
What ended up helping Bethany was a different sort of group that she found through her hospital. It connected survivors to get together and do fun activities — like dancing, cooking, and beauty classes.
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