Because Multiple Sclerosis – more commonly known as MS – is not a “cookie cutter disease,” it is more difficult for many people to understand, said Christi Bohrer of Tipp City.
That situation hasn’t stopped Bohrer, though, from working to educate people about the disease, and support people like her who live with it daily.
Bohrer was particularly busy in recent weeks as the 2018 Miami County Walk MS Ambassador for the walk held April 8 in Troy.
She grew up in the Huber Heights area, now living in Tipp City and working for a county agency.
She received a MS diagnosis after experiencing numbness and tingling in her hand and leg, and blurriness in vision. She woke up one day nearly 11 years ago, unable to see from her right eye. She found she had optic neuritis brought on by MS.
With treatment, her vision returned, but Bohrer said she “was afraid for the future” and what this diagnosis meant for her life, mobility, career and relationships.
“By learning everything I can about this disease, I have worked hard to stay motivated and live my best life. I found a treatment that has slowed the progression of my MS in the form of a monthly infusion and joined a support group where I met others affected by MS,” she said.
Symptoms of the disease still visit, reminding her MS is still with her. Among those symptoms are fatigue, pain, numbness, tingling and muscle spasms.
She now dreads the seasonal changes because of the weather’s impact on symptoms but said she pushes on.
“I do not want to be afraid of the future and cannot stop living. I hope that each day is closer to a cure,” Bohrer said.
She’d like people to understand that MS affects people differently. “This is not a cookie cutter disease,” she said. “I believe this is difficult for many people to understand. For example, heat intolerance may affect one individual, but not another.”
Among things Bohrer would like people to know about MS are:
- MS is an autoimmune disease. “The body makes antibodies against itself leading to damage. In MS the damage occurs in the covering (myelin) of the nerves. Having MS works similar to how an extension cord would work if the orange covering were stripped and the inside wires were frayed. During an attack, the covering over the nerves is damaged and nerves are exposed; messages back and forth from the brain skip or miss connecting all together. This is painful and frustrating,” she said.
- MS has been called an invisible disease. “Not everyone diagnosed will show outward symptoms. People have said that I ‘do not look bad,’ so they do not believe I have a chronic illness,” she said.
- A diagnosis affects the whole family. “As I have traveled on this journey in seeking proper treatment and what works best for my MS, educating myself, and adjusting my lifestyle to avoid triggering symptoms, I have realized that this diagnosis has affected my whole family,” she said. “They are my primary support system and I could not have ventured this far without them. They have had to make changes in their lives to adapt to my needs and be there for me.”
Bohrer and her family are involved in the Ohio Valley Chapter and have participated in Walk MS events in Miami and Montgomery counties.
For more information on the Ohio Valley Chapter, visit www.nationalmssociety.org/Chapters/OHG