Actor Selma Blair was recently spotted enjoying a family day at Disneyland. She was there with her 7-year-old son, Arthur, her best friend and Cruel Intentions co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar; and Sarah’s children, 9-year-old Charlotte, and 6-year-old Rocky.
Selma took turns between being pushed in a wheelchair by Sarah and using it for support to walk while her son took a break from walking.
Selma has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and opened up to ABC News about her journey in the fall of 2018.
Selma lives with an aggressive case of MS, and her life has been affected dramatically by the disease. She suffers from spasmodic dysphonia (or laryngeal dystonia), which causes the muscles in her vocal tract spasm and interrupt the fluency of her speech. Nevertheless, Selma maintains high spirits and is happy to share her story with others.
When asked what it was like to be diagnosed with MS, Selma recalls crying. “They weren’t tears of panic. They were tears of knowing I now have to give in to a body that has a loss of control. And there was some relief in that. Ever since my son was born, I was in an MS flare-up, and I was giving it everything to seem normal. I was self-medicating when he wasn’t with me… there were times when I couldn’t take it.”
For Selma, just like many people living with multiple sclerosis, the biggest obstacles were emotional, not physical. Selma describes the frustration of “not [being] taken seriously by doctors”, the stress of being a single mother, and the shame she felt when she was overwhelmed with daily responsibilities.
Selma told ABC News that she reached out to actor Michael J. Fox, hoping his experience living with Parkinson’s disease in the public eye could help provide wisdom for her own experience. “I don’t know who to tell, but I am dropping things, I’m doing strange things… He really helped me process… He gives me hope.”
Long-time pal Sarah Michelle Gellar has also been a source of support for Selma through her journey with multiple sclerosis. Once Selma made her first public appearance with the support of a cane, Sarah shared a heartfelt open letter to her dear friend on Instagram, saying:
“This is my dear friend, Selma Blair. Last night she stood on the world stage for the first time, since being diagnosed with MS. And later this week, she is taking an even bigger step, and speaking publicly on Good Morning America. To say I’m proud, would be a gross understatement. When I have a cold, I want to hide from the world under my covers. But not Selma. She is facing this diagnosis, the way she faces everything, with dignity, grace and head on. I know the support and encouragement that she has received on this platform has truly been a source of strength for her. This is not an easy journey, but Selma will not let this define her. I love you James.”
More on Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease which attacks the protective myelin of the spinal cord and brain. Depending on the extent and location of inflammation and damage to the myelin, people with multiple sclerosis can have a vast range of symptoms.
The most common symptoms of MS include: (1)
- Bladder Dysfunction
- Bowel Dysfunction
- Cognitive Impairment
- Gait (difficulty in walking)
- Optic neuritis
- Paroxysmal Symptoms
- Sensory Impairment, Numbness / Tingling
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Spasticity (see also Pain)
- Uhthoff’s Phenomena (Heat Intolerance)
- Dysarthria or difficulty speaking
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- Dry Mouth
- Hormonal Influences for women with MS
- Inappropriate Affect (pseudobulbar affect, emotional incontinence, involuntary emotional expression disorder-IEED)
- Poor coordination or incoordination
- Mood Lability / Bipolar Affective Disorder
Multiple sclerosis symptoms can go in remission, either completely or partially, depending on the type and stage of the disease. There are four main types of MS: (1)
- Clinically Isolated Syndrome: A one-time neurological attack that aligns with MS symptoms.
- Relapsing-remitting MS: Cycles of MS symptom flare-ups and remission.
- Secondary-progressive MS: Characterized by fewer periods of remission and more significant flare-ups.
- Primary-progressive MS: Progressively worsening symptoms, with no periods of remission.