How multiple sclerosis leads to what I call ‘microinjuries’

Living with MS causes a columnist some pretty uncommon injuries

Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

by Benjamin Hofmeister |

Share this article:

Share article via email
banner image for Ben Hofmeister's column

scabulous adj. proud of a scar on your body, which is an autograph signed to you by a world grateful for your continued willingness to play with her, even when you don’t feel like it.” — John Koenig, “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

I’ve managed to amass quite the collection of scars over the years. Unfortunately, I don’t have tales of adventure, heroics, or even a few plausible lies to go with them. The games I played with the world before multiple sclerosis (MS) came along might have involved more contact, but they and any resulting injuries were routine. Even the scars I picked up from water-skiing into a pier, while not exactly run-of-the-mill, are still the sort of thing that could happen to anyone. Well, anyone who is really bad at physics and plane geometry.

Post-MS, my injuries are a little different. I consider them to be my multiple sclerosis “microinjuries,” because they seem small compared with the injuries of the past. Not small in size or severity — running over your toe with a wheelchair is similar to kicking the leg of a coffee table — but unique to a small population.

Another example is a small series of fading marks on my shins from a rechargeable stick vacuum. It really has been a near-perfect cleaning tool to use from a wheelchair, but until I figured out how best to hold and steady it, I really beat up my legs. I haven’t seen any data on the subject, so this is just my opinion, but I bet those with vacuum injuries are a small group.

Recommended Reading
An illustration of a varied diet shows an array of fruits, vegetables, seeds and fish.

Coconut Oil and Green Tea Lead to Gait, Balance Gains in MS Patients

Still in the game

MS microinjuries are certainly not limited to people in wheelchairs. Even before MS took my ability to walk, the weakness, spasms, balance issues, and other symptoms contributed to plenty of incidents. These were the sort I never considered before the limitations of this disease. Who would’ve ever thought I’d have spasms and strain a shoulder while trying to scoop ice cream that was too hard? Not me. I also never imagined that I could sit down too hard, sleep wrong, or have a sore ankle from keeping it turned too far to one side under a weighted blanket.

It was actually an early multiple sclerosis microinjury that led to my first reaction to what is referred to as a toxic positivity comment when a stranger saw me tottering around a grocery store with my cane.

“What happened?”

“Oh, it’s multiple sclerosis.”

“Well, seeing you managing to get on with life is quite an inspiration.”

“Really? I didn’t feel like much of an inspiration when I fell over twice while putting pants on this morning, but thank you.”

I was tempted to ask what the alternative to “managing to get on with life” was, but I doubt I’d have liked the answer.

In an odd way, I’m as proud of my post-MS scars as I am of my pre-MS ones. The games might have changed somewhat, but I’m still willing to play with the world. One of us needs to play a little less rough sometimes, but I’m still in the game.

My list of MS microinjuries is far from complete. For example, I literally just drank my coffee too hard. Please share some of yours in the comments below.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Aliyya avatar


Hello, I’ve been inspired by your column. My husband is SF recently diagnosed with MS. It has been very hard, he’s in denial. Would love to connect so he knows he isn’t alone in this.

Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

Benjamin Hofmeister

I emailed you my personal contact info. It might have gone to the spam folder though. Have him reach out please. There are so many things I wish someone had told me after the diagnosis.



Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.