What is MS or Multiple Sclerosis?

Starting point for What is MS?

Have you ever asked yourself or been asked the question - What is MS?

If so, did you know that about 400,000 people in the US have been diagnosed with MS or multiple sclerosis? Every week about 200 people find out they will have to live their lives suffering the effects of MS. In spite of this fact, Cir and I still meet people who have no idea what MS is. This is just a simple starting point if you'd like to know a little more about this nervous system disease.

If you like stories, skip the links below and read Cir's introduction about "What is MS". Or click on these links for more specific information.


When Cir was diagnosed in 1993, we had been married for about 10 years. We were about to have our third child. He was active in martial arts and worked a full-time job. We were were right on course to fulfilling our goals and dreams. Our life was pretty near perfect. Or so we thought...


Nagging symptoms


Cir did have a few nagging issues that never seemed to go away, though. Some bothered him constantly, like imbalance. He said he felt like he was always walking on a mattress. The one symptom that started long before we were married and finally sent him to a doctor, was optic neuritis. He described it as having a blind spot right in the middle of his field of vision.


Early warning sign


While talking with other MSers he's met since his diagnosis, several have said that optic neuritis was an early symptom for them, also. It seems to be a common early warning sign for many who are eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

According to the medical books, MS is a chronic neurological disease or one of several nervous system diseases. It effects the central nervous system or CNS. The CNS is the part of the nervous system that includes the brain, optic nerves and spinal chord. That explained his balance issues and the reason for the optic neuritis, which eventually subsided.

For a more in depth Definition of Multiple Sclerosis, click here. 

"Many scars"

A very simple answer to the question - What is MS? - is to say it the following way. Multiple means "many" and sclerosis means "scars".


The overall theory is that your body's own immune system attacks your central nervous system. A healthy immune system is held in check and attacks only the baddies that make their way into our bodies. When you have MS, your immune system goes a little wacky and starts attacking the myelin sheath which covers the nerves. The results of this attack produced scars which are located on Cir's brain and spinal chord.


To read more about demyelination, click here ordemyelinating disease, click here.


One doctor even suspected MS but because Cir was male and African-American, he dismissed this possibility. When Cir finally did have an MRI, the scars were definitely there on his brain. Who knew those "little white spots" would change our lives so drastically in the years to come.


The disabilities common to MS are a result of where the scars are located on the brain or spinal chord. Cir's scars are located on his brain as well as on his spinal chord. But each multiple sclerosis patient is different. The scars or lesions onyour brain (or spinal chord) can cause a totally different set of challenges for you than for someone else with scars in a similar location. Sometimes, although rarely, one or two lesions can cause total disability.

There's more to What is MS! To go to What is MS Part 2, click here or the link below.

Want videos about multiple sclerosis? Click the link to see stories of people like you that have MS as well as more information about multiple sclerosis.

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