Photo credit: TODAY
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. It is an unpredictable condition that can cause a wide range of symptoms, many of which may occur throughout the course of days, months, or even years. Being diagnosed with MS can be scary and overwhelming for anyone. With today’s newly available treatment options and coping strategies, many are able to live a happy and fulfilled life. Take it from Jack Osbourne.
Jack Osbourne is an English media personality and the son of heavy metal legend Ozzy Osbourne. When he was 26 years old, he was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Five years following his diagnosis, Jack had come to a positive conclusion, stating “MS is not a death sentence, ultimately. Not anymore, There’s hope, there’s absolutely hope.”
Since being diagnosed in 2012, Jack reflects back on his life - “Before this, I would just be a typical 20-something-year-old and lounge around and just kind of kick it when I could. I don’t do that anymore. I hate wasting days. I’m always doing something and trying to accomplish something, whether it’s work, something social or doing something active. So for that, I’m appreciative of it” he says.
Being diagnosed with MS
One day, Jack noticed a black dot in the center of his right eye. It turned out to be optic neuritis, a type of inflammation that damages the optic nerve, and a potential symptom of MS. Jack became 90% blind and had to be put on intravenous steroids. Fortunately, the steroids helped to repair his vision in his right eye. “Next thing you know, I feel like I'm on an episode of 'House', and they give me the news that I have MS,'' he says. At this point, Jack had no idea what MS was and it was quite overwhelming for him. He began to do research online and spoke with a family friend who ran a MS charity so that he could learn more about the neurological condition.
Jack states that one of the greatest difficulties he faces with MS has been mental rather than physical. “Depression is the most common symptom among people with multiple sclerosis. For me, depression is one of those things where I have had these little slumps, and I have to pull myself out of it.” When these slumps hit, Jack forces himself to become proactive. "I choose to combat it with contrary action. When I'm feeling like I don't want to go out of bed and I don't want to do anything and want to shut the world out, I just kind of force myself to go do something", Jack says. Five years following his diagnosis, Jack has not experienced any severe physical symptoms. He maintains a healthy diet, goes to the gym 3-4 times a week, and follows a 3X a week treatment plan.
Jack states how living with MS has changed his entire outlook on life. "I feel more of an urgency. The doctors don't know how specifically it's going to affect me in the long term. It took me a while to figure out my baseline, and I really came to the conclusion that I kind of have to seize every opportunity I can because I don't know what next year's going to look like, two years, three years” he says.
“You Don’t Know Jack About MS” Campaign
The media personality star has become an advocate for the MS community with his campaign, “You Don’t Know Jack About MS”, in partnership with Teva Neuroscience. http://youdontknowjackaboutms.com/ gives an introduction into who Jack Osbourne is and features episodes that give individuals a glance into Jack’s life on living with MS. Furthermore, the website includes valuable information, such as:
Jack’s Blog – a compilation of blog posts, each unique in their own way about Jack’s point of view on living and coping with MS:
- Romance and Marriage While Living with MS: http://youdontknowjackaboutms.com/jacks-blog/romance-and-marriage
- Finding Balance: http://youdontknowjackaboutms.com/jacks-blog/finding-balance
- The Power of Positivity: http://youdontknowjackaboutms.com/jacks-blog/power-of-positivity
- Junk Food Is Not My Friend: http://youdontknowjackaboutms.com/jacks-blog/multiple-sclerosis-diet
- What MS Has Taught Me: http://youdontknowjackaboutms.com/jacks-blog/what-ms-has-taught-me
Learning about MS – information and resources with a larger perspective on MS:
- Understanding MS
- Information for Newly Diagnosed
- Improving Health and Wellness
- Myths and Facts
Patient Resources – information and resources on learning to prepare for doctor visits and understanding MS a little better:
- Questions to ask your doctor
- RRMS goal tracker
- MS fact sheet
- Getting support
About YDKJ – the latest materials on media from “You Don’t Know Jack about MS”:
- Images of Jack
- Campaign logo
- Jack’s biography
- YDKJ fact sheet
- About MS fact sheet
Jack Osbourne is an example of one of many individuals living with MS. His campaign strives to show that while MS may be a part of your life but it does not have to control your life. "It's a bit of a roller coaster. I try and stay positive. The thing about the MS community that I've learned is that everyone has such an amazing outlook on things" he says.
To most individuals, being diagnosed with MS can provide a sense of relief. If you are wondering why this is, take a look at the approach from a different angle: MS means putting a label to baffling symptoms and finally getting to a point where you can start adjusting to the new diagnosis. If you have been recently diagnosed with MS, you may feel confused, frightened, and even angry. This is only natural as MS can be an unpredictable condition. While you may be an individual with MS, the condition does not identify or change who you are. You are still the same person, living the same life, with minor adjustments here and there.
Sometimes, your doctor may provide you with information too quickly, causing you to feel overwhelmed. You need to remember that as a medical professional, they are just doing their job and they only want what is best for you. If you ever feel overwhelmed, be open and honest with your doctor and healthcare team. Perhaps even write down your questions or concerns and have topics in mind before entering your medical appointments. The most important thing is to have confidence in your doctor and healthcare team in providing you with quality care and following through with their treatment recommendations. Moreover, consider speaking with your family, friends, or even a support group to share your good days and bad days. Having a support system is important and for those involved, it can be life-changing.
Do not feel discouraged if you do not initially understand what MS is or if your symptoms cause you stress and anxiety. After taking some time to understand the condition and what you can expect, these feelings will start to settle in and subside. Whether you want to learn about MS a little at a time or you want to know all you can right away, the choice is yours. There is no right or wrong way. You need to take the time to understand your diagnosis and do things at your own pace.