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I think my BF has MS but he ignores symptoms

Hello everyone, I am posting in this community because I feel like I have no one to talk to about my worries and need support. My boyfriend has a number of symptoms that I think might be signs of MS but he doesn’t share my concerns. This is a complex and confusing place to be. If my hunch is right, he will need my patience and understanding, so after an initial conversation when I gently brought it up, I haven’t talked to him about my concerns again. When we talked he did respond well considering how frightening it must have been for him. He found alternative reasons to explain every symptom he’s had, but did agree to see a doctor so I felt reassured that despite not agreeing with me he at least took my worries seriously. The doctor also brushed off the concerns, as my partner is young and fit and has no obvious health difficulties. Since seeing the doctor my boyfriend has developed more symptoms consistent with MS but I feel unable to say or do anything unless he develops more serious health problems. I know I just have to wait and see, and maybe nothing will come of it, as I might be wrong, but I feel stressed because it feels like I’m potentially aware of something no one else can see. I don’t feel I can talk to my family about it as they are likely to focus on all the problems I’ll be faced with - and encourage me to leave him. And I think pretty much everyone else will gently try to tell me to stop worrying and stop being paranoid. But what if my intuition is right? I don’t actually know what I’m asking of you all here, I just want to connect with people who understand and might know how to support a partner worried about MS related health concerns. Many thanks, M.

Hello Milly

There are a couple of different issues here. The first is that you might be / could be / probably are, wrong about MS. I say this because there are an awful lot of people who come on this site absolutely convinced they have MS, because ‘they have all the symptoms’ and they are frequently wrong. They do come back and say, ‘it’s been proved that I have a vitamin deficiency’, or ‘FND’, or ‘fibromyalgia’, or ‘thyroid deficiency’, or many, many other things wrong with them. MS has so many possible symptoms that are also shared with other diagnoses that focussing on MS to the exclusion of all else is at best unnecessary and at worst, causing a whole load of unwarranted stress.

The doctor your boyfriend saw does have a medical degree, so is capable of identifying whether someone has potential neurological symptoms meaning that a referral to a neurologist is needed. The fact that the doctor didn’t see any reason for such a referral could mean that one wasn’t needed.

The second issue is that the person experiencing possible neurological symptoms (I’m deliberately not saying MS here, because you, your boyfriend nor I am able to differentiate between diagnoses) should be the one who decides when and if to see a doctor. All you can do as a caring partner is to make a gentle suggestion. Then leave it alone. Your boyfriend is an adult and as such should be capable of deciding whether he is worried enough to seek help.

This might sound hard hearted, when all you are being is caring and thinking about him. I don’t mean to be hard or mean, but the fact is that you can lead a man to a doctor, but you can’t make him continue to worry about something he may not have.

If by some chance he does have MS, that fact will make itself evident in time. And hopefully you will still be by your boyfriends side to help him through the diagnosis. You are obviously a very caring and loving person and I really hope your boyfriend deserves you.

Sue

It is usually a good plan for friends and family to take their lead from the person who is (or might be) ill.

There are exceptions: if you think your loved one needs to see the GP and he/she won’t go, then there’s a conversation to be had about that. But your partner has been to the GP, so that does not apply here.

If your partner, having consulted the GP, is content to accept professional advice, then I think the best, kindest and most respectful thing for you to do now is to follow suit. Let him know, by all means, that if he has things that are worrying him, then you are there to listen. But leave it at that.

Alison

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Thank you alison100 and Ssssue for your replies, it’s good to have people to listen and respond. I am not surprised by your responses, as not only it is the rational position to take, I can recognise the truth in it. Because the truth is no one knows if my boyfriend has MS, and unless his symptoms are clear enough, he seeks help, and a qualified person makes an official diagnosis my concerns will be just that, concerns. So really this is about me coping with my anxiety. And my anxiety is bad enough to be affecting the quality of my life, so I need to work out what I can do to deal with it. I guess the stress comes from feeling so out of control and so uncertain. Something I imagine so many of the members on this site understand only too well, since MS and the sorts of diagnoses that are often confused with it have such a complex relationship with symptoms, time and medical institutions. Feeling in limbo seems to be one of the few consistences of so many peoples stories. So that is step one. Recognising that whatever his symptoms are, there is unlikely to be the clarity my anxieties demand any time soon. Whatever decisions I have to make about our life together will have to be made in uncertainty. But, in one way this does offer one liberty. The liberty to consider the relationship on it’s own merits, and leave if I have to, because I doubt I could do so if he needed my care. Much of the anxiety is, I suppose, to do with my age. I’m 39 and we’re talking about having a child. And I see that to some extent I’m displacing my uncertainty about having a family with him onto uncertainty about his health. But I know that that I’m the sort of person who would be there in sickness and in health, so that is the lesser issue right now. So I need to be dealing primarily with my doubts about the relationship, not the doubts about his health. I think my issue with his health is that I see him denying and minimising his symptoms, and it hits a nerve because his general tendency to minimise problems in our life/relationship interacts badly with my general tendency to anticipate problems and, at best find pro-active solutions, at worst become anxious. But, whereas in other areas of our life I feel able to bring issues into the open where we can sort it out, in this I feel unable to so. He watched his dear Uncle’s own health deteriorate to MS, before an early death in difficult circumstances. So, not only do I not want to burden one of the sweetest most happy-go-lucky men I’ve met with undue anxiety, I am loathe to push him to confront painful memories. But that does not change the fact that he is experiencing health problems of his own, which he does need to take responsibility for. I see now that their resemblance to symptoms of MS may be an unfortunate coincidence that is more likely to encourage denial than a pro-active response. So, I shall not mention MS to him again, I will leave that to the doctors if it becomes relevant. I will try to ignore my own worries about that and focus instead on each symptom independently, as and when it is an issue. Because I cannot control whatever is causing his problems, but I can support him to seek help for each symptom as and when it impacts our lives, like when he’s fatigued, struggling with muscle pain, eye pain or back pain. Hard truths are hard to take. But I see the clarity I long for is not going to come, all I can do is what we all have to do. Face up to life’s uncertainties, and try to do our best with the knowledge we have available to us at the time. I can’t say I feel any better, but perhaps more resolved. Best wishes, I sincerely hope your own lives are filled with contentment and good times despite whatever challenges there may be, Milly

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hi milly

you obviously love your boyfriend very much.

you also acknowledge your own anxiety very lucidly.

it is understandable that he has painful memories of his uncle’s ms and early death.

my own aunt, auntie muriel, had ms in the late 60’s and there wasn’t much in the way of treatment at that time.

i am aware that i am fortunate to have been diagnosed at a time when there have been new developments continually.

maybe, at a later date, he will begin to see things the way you do.

for now, give him space and be there when he needs you.

thanks for your good wishes to us all.

i wish you and your boyfriend all the best too.

carole x

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