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The History of Multiple Sclerosis Disease

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My identity revolves around the disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I was burdened with it when diagnosed at the age of two. It was a struggle to deal with at first, but then I took control over it. It has become my superpower which has made me the person I am today. Like every comic book, I will describe the history of the power, the science, the origin, and the fight for good that comes along with my superpower.

The first case of Multiple Sclerosis recorded in history was Augustus d’Este (1794-1848). Augustus was born as the grandson of King George the Third and may be the first person to have this disease. He described his symptoms in his diary. He had to have his letters read and the responses scribed for him because Augustus was suffering from optic neuritis, which is a common disease that is associated with multiple sclerosis. Also, as is common with the disease, his vision gradually recovered; however, in some cases, vision is not fully restored, leaving the sufferer with permanent vision loss. Augustus started to experience a peculiar sensation in the temple of his eye on October 17, 1827, which progressed into double vision on November sixth 1827. Considering the time period, he was misdiagnosed with bile and treated with leaches sucking blood out of the temple of his eye. As in most cases of MS, the symptoms dissipated leaving Augustus with normal vision once again. Augustus describes his legs becoming vestigial, unable to use them for 21 days with the relapse of vision loss. The symptoms receded, and he was back on his feet. Permanent damage from demyelization disabled him from dancing at galas and going hunting. The burden of fatigue, balance issues, and bouts of pain tortured. Augustus tried multiple resources to ease his symptoms, from spa treatments to treatment to electrification.

In 1848, Augustus died at the age of 54. On the verge of death, Augustus was confined in a wheel chair for the last days of his life; no one to call his spouse and no offspring to live after him. Although he was not diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis back then, all the symptoms throughout his life show a significant similarity to what doctors would diagnose today as MS. Multiple Sclerosis was first described in 1868 by Jean Martin Charcot (add credibility) who named it “La Sclerosis en Plaques”. Considered to be the “father of neurology” (National Multiple Sclerosis Society), Charcot identified a later revised list of symptoms, that helped distinguish MS from other neurological diseases. Referred to as the “triad” of symptoms, nystagmus, intention tremors, and ataxic speech help identify whether a patient has Multiple Sclerosis. These symptoms were established as diagnostic criteria after one of his maids, who he thought had tabes doralis, portrayed them and later died. An autopsy was performed on this maid uncovering multiple lesions (sclerosis) in the central nervous system. Charcot described the coating of the nerves, myelin, being damaged and the multiple phagocytes, the body’s defense mechanism against infection, invading the central nervous system.

Nonetheless, Charcot was not the first to make the first clinically documented neuropathological description; Jean Cruveilhier published an atlas of pathology between 1829 and 1842 that shows and describes the pathology of MS. He was a Professor of Pathology at the University of Paris from 1791-1874. Charcot, however, described how these lesions caused certain symptoms. He continued to describe other forms of MS and how the location of the lesions caused specific symptoms (CMR). Charcot also declared that Multiple Sclerosis may be caused by external factors like other infections or stress. His assistant, Pierre Marie was the first to suggest that Multiple Sclerosis was linked to infection. An example of emotional stress would be Augustus’s case where he was under emotional stress from the loss of a friend and started experiencing symptoms of optic neuritis.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that causes your immune system to attack myelin, the coating on the nerves, disrupting neural signal transmission. This is similar to an iPhone charger, where the white coating on the wire is the myelin and the wire is the nerves. When this white coating is kinked or damaged, electrical signals have a hard time reaching or do not reach your phone. Multiple sclerosis is a snowflake of a disease because every patients’ case is different; it depends on which area of the brain the immune system attacks. According to The National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, Common symptoms include, fatigue, weakness, walking difficulties, spasticity, numbness or tingling, pain, visual problems, dizziness and vertigo, sexual problems, bladder problems, bowel problems, cognitive changes, emotional changes, and depression. Less common symptoms include, speech problems, swallowing problems, breathing problems, seizure, tremor, itching, headache and hearing loss. The exact cause of MS is unknown. However, scientists think that Multiple Sclerosis may be caused by different factors including immunological, environmental, infectious, and genetic factors. Multiple Sclerosis research continues to treat the disease to stop its progression, restoring function by healing the lesions Multiple Sclerosis burdens the victim with, and hopes to make the world free of Multiple Sclerosis. This is my life and I live with some of the consequences.

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