'Redefining MS': Why It Stands for More Than Just 'Multiple Sclerosis'

You’ve probably heard that MS stands for “multiple sclerosis.” According to the medical books, you heard right. But I’m here to tell you the medical books don’t tell the whole story. MS stands for something more than an autoimmune disease. MS is more than an abbreviated label for a collection of symptoms. MS stands for something far more powerful than physical dysfunction. MS is short for “mighty strength.”

I know what you’re thinking: people with MS don’t seem to be very strong. Aren’t their bodies fatigued and weak? Aren’t some in wheelchairs? Don’t their eyes lose the ability to see? For some of us with the variety of symptoms known to MS, those assumptions are true. Some of us are physically slower. Some of us get dizzy, see spots or lose our vision entirely. Some MS warriors are in wheelchairs because of limited mobility. Some have spasms in the muscles beneath the surface of their skin and experience invisible symptoms no one can see. But all of the physical limitations that are part and parcel of the medical dictionaries’ definition of MS don’t capture the greater meaning of those two little letters.

MS is the title of a warrior. On the uniform of the soldier with multiple sclerosis is a badge of honor designating their mighty strength as a fighter. Because they are fighters. They have to be. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t fighting like hell to hold on. To survive. To thrive in the midst of every obstacle, every encumbrance and every setback.

You see, MS is an everyday battle. The enemy is sneaky. He pops up when you least expect him to with new weapons and tactics that are shockingly clever and all-too often all-too devastating. The threat of a relapse is always right around the corner. A new set of symptoms lurks somewhere in the darkness like a land mine just waiting to detonate and destroy.

But mighty strength keeps the warrior fighting even when the enemy strikes. They fight with medicine, therapies and sheer will. They keep waking up and suiting up even when the odds are stacked against them and the future looks bleak. Physical attacks, emotional turmoil and bodily warfare are all in a day’s work for the mighty strong warrior.

What the medical books won’t tell you is that MS is a war to be fought, not a threat to be managed. Multiple sclerosis challenges the human spirit and attempts to strip its victim of peace and joy. But what the symptoms can take away physically, they can’t even touch spiritually. Out of spasms, muscular weakness, fatigue and vision loss comes something far more powerful than any textbook symptom of an MS autoimmune attack. A new kind of MS arrives to the fight: mighty strength. Weak bodies are infused with fierce spirits that won’t lose faith in the future or hope in tomorrow. The MS warrior looks the enemy in the eye and refuses to surrender

Multiple sclerosis isn’t a death sentence and it isn’t sure defeat. It is a challenge. MS is a catalyst for mighty strength and for the fighting spirit to flourish. So next time you meet someone with MS, remember who they are and what they are. They are a warrior – and a mighty strong one at that.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Multiple Sclerosis

hands making the shape of a heart

The Lesson Multiple Sclerosis Taught Me About Kindness

There’s a point in your life when you realize you’re different. It may be as simple as having a different taste in music than your friends. You might stand out for loving show tunes (even as a 10-year-old) or you might not wear the same trendy clothes as everyone else. I’ve never been what some [...]
man feeling fatigued

The Unique Way I Wish People Could Understand the Fatigue I Feel From Multiple Sclerosis

Growing up in the ’80s, family trips to the local shopping mall usually included my brothers and I playing video games in the arcade until our parents finished their mom-and-dad stuff and it was time to go. My time and quarters were spent playing mostly sports-themed games, but when I ran out of change, I’d [...]
man winking

The Secret Way I Wish I Could Connect With Other People With Multiple Sclerosis

Out here in Texas there aren’t many fans of Washington, D.C.-Virginia area sports teams, so whenever I wear any Nationals or Hokies gear, it stands out.  Last week, while I was at the store, an older man started a conversation with me. “Go Nationals!” I heard him exclaim as he was staring at the Washington [...]
sunny sky with clouds and tree branches

5 Reasons to Speak Up About Your Health Struggles

Dreamers are given the gift to believe, and believing is life-changing. Believing means we can be hopeful and confident about the future, and that’s what gets me through the roughest days. I have a supportive family and amazing friends, but still no one can really relate to what I’m going through. No one gets it until [...]