MS and Lightning: Can Either Strike Twice?

Jamie Tripp Utitus
Written by
Jamie Tripp Utitus

Just seven years ago, a doctor told me that the fact that both my sister and my first cousin have multiple sclerosis, meant that the chances of me having it were one-in-a-million. Just like lightning striking twice, MS hitting my family three times would simply be impossible.

Looking back, I wish I’d been prepared myself for that consultation with lightning trivia. Not only is lightning likely to strike the same place more than once – it is BOUND to. For example, did you know that in June of 2014, lightning struck Chicago’s three tallest skyscrapers a total of 17 times. In ONE day.

Another fun fact – I had multiple sclerosis. As did my sister and my three cousins.

Reflecting back on the last seven years and how my life has changed in so many ways, it also hit me how opinions and information surrounding MS have changed so much. Seven years ago it was considered preposterous to assume that more than one person in a family would be struck with MS, now you’d be hard pressed to find an article (scholarly or otherwise) that didn’t mention the hereditary component to MS.

In the late 1800’s, early 1900’s, there was one test for multiple sclerosis. Do you want to know the uber-sophisticated way we diagnosed MS back then? The bathtub test. Yes. A bunch of fancy doctors, with little to go on except for the fact that heat tends to exacerbate MS symptoms, put people who were suspected to have MS in hot tubs and if they showed symptoms, it was concluded that they had multiple sclerosis.

So much has changed in a hundred years. So much has changed in seven. I know that’s weird, but it also means progress. We’d never stick someone in a sauna now and wait for paralysis to set in – that would be inhumane. We look at patient history and a series of tests to determine a diagnosis – especially a hereditary component.

As I sit and think about how much has changed, I must recognize two things. One, I have changed. I used to have preconceived notions of what sick looked like. You will hear me complain when people do it to me – give me the stank eye for using a handicap placard (I don’t look sick a lot of the time), and yet I am guilty of doing that to others too. I just didn’t realize I was doing it. I learned. Just like doctors are learning about new diagnostics and tests. I knew there was a hereditary component even when they didn’t. Part of me thought I was crazy, but I knew a lot more than I realized. I knew to listen to my body before anything else and I pushed until someone got it right. The medical world surrounding MS has come so far, and so much of it is because of us sharing our stories, our symptoms, our family trees and insisting on being heard. In seven short years we have come so far.

It is a true testament to believing in yourself, your symptoms and your intuition. We’ve come so far because we just simply started a dialogue.

Related Articles

BREAKING NEWS: Could There Be an MS Gene After All?

For the first time, researchers may have found an MS gene. We take a look at the news.

read more

Why Women Are More Likely to Get MS than Men – An Exciting New Clue!

New discovery points to why women are more likely than men to get multiple sclerosis – Living Like You.

read more

Newly Diagnosed with MS? Here’s Your Checklist

No matter where you live, there are some things everyone with multiple sclerosis needs in their arsenal. Living Like You blogger, Claudia shares her tips.

read more
Claudia Dieckmann
Written by
Claudia Dieckmann
This website intends to use cookies to improve the site and your experience. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to accept our use of cookies. If you require further information and/or do not wish to have cookies placed when using the site click here: About Cookies.
Don't show me this again