Multiple Sclerosis (most often referred to as MS) is an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks the myelin sheath that surrounds your nerves – much like peeling back the rubber that coats the wires in a pair of earbuds – thereby causing degeneration in both your body and mind over a spread of decades. Pediatric MS (also called Juvenile MS or Early Onset MS) is a little different, in that it refers only to those MS sufferers under the age of 18, who only make up about 5-10% of the cases of MS worldwide.
Your Path is Hard But Slow
It does no good to sugarcoat diagnoses, so here's what you need to know starting off: your path is going to be hard. MS as a disease isn't fully understood, and MS in children under 18 is even less so; generally, a mixture of pediatric doctors and adult MS specialists are brought in to consult on pediatric MS cases. The bit of good news in this, however, is that generally pediatric MS progresses more slowly than adult-onset MS, meaning that you'll have fewer symptoms for a longer amount of time. This is an especially good thing considering that a lot of MS medication and treatment (more on this below) is meant to prevent further complications; you'll get the full benefit of these preventative medications since you're starting earlier.
You're Starting Healthier
There is good news, however, that can come with an early-in-life diagnosis of MS. As your body is younger, probably more fit, and probably doesn't have chronic problems that come with age, the good news is that you're starting out your journey much more healthy and fit than most other MS sufferers. Those diagnosed with MS in their late 30s or in their 40s are much more likely to have a bad back, pulled muscle, or other debilitating injury that MS will only make worse. Since debilitating and/or crippling injuries are generally less common among the young, the probability of you having a previous health condition for MS to exacerbate is much lower.
It Can Be Controlled
Autoimmune diseases, barely understood as they are, don't normally come with a cure, and Pediatric MS is no exception to that rule. It does, however, have a variety of treatment plans to control the disease and keep your life and health as normal as possible for as long as possible. Talk to your doctor about your treatment plan; your doctor may recommend any number of treatments for your condition, from orally administered drugs daily to weekly shots to monthly transfusions – or some combination of these. Though none of these medications can cure your MS, they can make your condition as invisible as possible to you and help you live relatively healthily for many more years to come.
Make sure to head in for a physical exam at a play like Summit View Clinic when you're having issues.