Before reading, if you missed Part 1 you can catch up here! It’s also important to note that the topic of this blog is focussed on Relapsing Remitting MS.
The day after my previous blog about Corrie, I was reading some spoilers (one of my favourite past times!) so I knew that Johnny becoming unwell was imminent.
During Friday’s episode, following being caught having kidnapped baby Suzie, we found Johnny in hospital. He’s not doing so well. He’s not doing well because he’s not been taking his medication for his MS for weeks. And this is where I think Corrie have got it a little wrong.
It’s great that Corrie are finally remembering to do something with it, but I feel the need to clear up a couple of “misrepresentations”.
Misrepresentation One: Johnny is only having a relapse (new symptoms) because he’s stopped taking his medication.
This is inaccurate. It’s not entirely clear what medication Johnny is on, but it’s easy to work out he’s on a daily self-administered medication rather than something like Lemtrada (which if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know is how I’m managing my MS).
No medication is proven to completely stop relapses. The only thing it will do is slow them right down i.e. reduce the frequency in varying degrees of success. That means you can still have a relapse regardless of whether you take your medication or not. Of course, it is more likely that you will have a relapse if you don’t take your medication, but the reality is, no medication is 100% effective.
Misrepresentation Two: Johnny experiences no MS related pain or problems as long as he takes his medication. When he’s between relapses, he’s completely fine.
Again, this isn’t a fair portrayal of MS. Once you’ve had a relapse and got yourself a few new symptoms, they never really 100% leave you. It’s rare to be symptom free. The extremity of it usually eases significantly after a relapse, but depending on what it is and how it affects you, it lingers.
For example, my legs have “tingled” for eight years. When it first started, it was an awful numb feeling through my entire body from the waist down. I had no sensation. Since that relapse, sometimes it can be all the way up to the tops of my legs and even into my lower back. Most of the time it’s a light tingle I barely notice, that doesn’t go further than between my feet and my lower leg. At other times it can be on the verge of pain. Heat can be a factor in making it “flare” as can tiredness or picking up infections. Oh and you guessed it, stress (amongst a whole bunch of other things).
It could be argued that Johnny has clinically isolated MS or it’s not that active or serious. But if that was the case, chances are he wouldn’t be medicating in the first place. It just doesn’t add up.
I get it must be hard to explain an invisible illness. How do you portray something that nobody can see? There are ways. People could simply ask Johnny how he is from time to time and he could complain about an invisible symptom. He could have the occasional bit of poor balance or walk with a limp.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Soaps are well placed to raise awareness on all issues, I just wish that when they do give somebody something that’s a lifelong condition, they do more than just remembering to portray it when it suits them, or it fits with the storyline.