Vigil star Rose Leslie health: Chronic illness is ‘close to my heart’

Vigil star Rose Leslie health: Chronic illness is ‘close to my heart’

Rose Leslie and Kit Harington leave church after getting married

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In a charity campaign video for the MS Society, the couple were only two of a star studded lineup that aimed to get people to “Join Team Stop MS.” Lord Of The Rings star Andy Serkis as well as chef Ainsley Harriott were also seen in the video which saw all the celebs trying (and failing) to audition for a fundraising role for the charity. This was the first time that Leslie and Harington have appeared together on screen since the end of the HBO fantasy series.

When speaking about her involvement within the campaign Leslie revealed: “The MS Society is very close to my heart, and the work they do is incredible.

“I want to support them in raising funds for MS research because we’re so close to finding real and long-lasting solutions to tackle this condition.”

Although the actual connection between the actress and MS – which stands for multiple sclerosis – is not officially known, the society said that all those who appeared in the video have a “close personal connection” to MS. This hinting to the fact that the couple are both familiar with the disease which affects the brain and spinal cord.

Commenting on what she hopes to achieve as she works with the charity, Leslie said: “We have shown through the pandemic that with concentrated effort and funding we can overcome momentous challenges, and I believe we can do this with MS too.

“But it was also just a really positive thing to be part of generally, with everyone there sharing the common goal of stopping MS. I’m happy to be part of their family.”

The MS Society is a charity that helps to fund world-leading research, sharing the latest information and leading campaigns to ensure everyone’s rights. Their end goal is to stop MS, and in the meantime support those who currently have it.

What is MS?

As a result of Multiple Sclerosis affecting the brain and spinal cord, the central nervous system is also affected, meaning that everything from taking a physical step to solving a mental problem becomes increasingly difficult to do.

The specific cause of the condition is unknown, but according to scientists at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society a combination of environmental and genetic factors cause a higher risk of developing the condition. As the disease is classed as an autoimmune condition, the immune system mistakes parts of the spinal cord and brain for a foregin substance and attacks it.

A substance called the myelin sheath present in both the brain and spinal cord which protects all important nerves, which send electrical signals around the body becomes inflamed during this attack, causing small patches of lesions. These patches then disrupt messages travelling along the nerves and symptoms of MS occur.

There have been two types of MS identified by experts that slightly differ from one another. Relapsing remitting MS is when an individual experiences episodes of new or worsening symptoms. These relapses get progressively worse over a few days and can last for either weeks or months. When going through periods of stress or illness relapses are far more likely to occur. Periods between attacks are known as remission stages.

The other type of identifiable MS is primary progressive MS. This affects just over one in 10 people and starts with a gradual worsening of symptoms rather than in one relapse. Symptoms are constantly felt by individuals and there are no periods of remission, however people often find that they have times where the condition appears to stabilise.

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Symptoms of MS

Symptoms can differ for each individual and they can gradually get worse over time. One commonality for all MS sufferers is the unpredictability of symptoms. Periods when symptoms improve or disappear are known as remissions.

As the NHS states, the most common symptoms of the condition include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Vision problems
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Muscle spasms, stiffness and weakness
  • Mobility problems
  • Pain
  • Problems with thinking, learning and planning
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Sexual problems
  • Bladder problems
  • Bowel problems
  • Speech and swallowing difficulties.

Out of this list, fatigue is the most common and troublesome symptom for MS patients. It is often described as an overwhelming sense of exhaustion and makes carrying out everyday activities and tasks a struggle. Factors that make fatigue worse often include hot weather, illness or towards the end of the day.

Treatments for MS

As both Leslie and the MS Society recognised, there is currently no cure for MS making it a chronic illness. However, there are available treatments that aim to curb the effect of symptoms.

These treatments depend on the symptoms and difficulties the person is experiencing. For those with relapsing remitting MS, steroid medicine is advised by professionals. In addition disease-modifying therapies can be used to reduce the number of relapses.

To target specific MS symptoms such as fatigue there are specific fatigue management courses or therapies available. This includes cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which aims to change the way you think and behave and ultimately cope with your symptoms.

To tackle muscle spasms and stiffness, physiotherapy is recommended. Stretching exercises as well as medicines such as diazepam and tizanidine can relax your muscles and make mobility easier. You should always talk to your GP about the best course of treatment for you before taking any medication.

New drama Vigil continues tonight on BBC One at 9pm.

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