With a diagnosis of MS, you learn to expect the unexpected

How MS can be like an armadillo coming at you in the bush

Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

by Benjamin Hofmeister |

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I try not to let my life revolve around multiple sclerosis (MS), but there’s no escaping the fact that the disease affects every part of it. That’s a bit of a conundrum and often frustrates me to no end.

If there’s a bright side to be found, it’s that as long as my cognition cooperates, I’ll never run out of material for this column. I can find something about MS in every aspect of my life because, like it or not, it touches everything.

I have also rediscovered lessons in my life from before MS made its presence known. The following story is one of those.

Some years ago, when I was a young Army Ranger, I found myself at a training area in northern Florida. A team of British Special Operations troops was there as well. One night, their commander stopped at our location. He was riding around keeping tabs via radio while his soldiers conducted an ambush exercise.

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During the regular radio chatter, the following conversation happened:

“Get ready, I can hear them coming.”

“Can you see them yet?”

“Not yet, but they must be close, the noise is quite loud.”


A long pause.

“It’s not a person, it’s an animal.”

“What animal?”

“I dunno, it looks like some kind of armored puppy dog.”

It’s quite likely our visitors had seen an armadillo in a book, on television, or at a zoo. But having one stumble into you in the dark is a different thing altogether. An encounter with a completely unfamiliar animal raises all sorts of questions. “Are these things dangerous? Is it poisonous? Is it venomous? (Yes, there’s a difference.) Does it bite? Should I play dead?”

My initial encounter with multiple sclerosis was much the same. I had heard of it, knew that it existed, but was still blindsided when I was diagnosed. “Is this fatal? What’s going to happen to me? What should I prepare for? What do I do now?”

Unfortunately, the answers to those questions can’t be found in a pharmaceutical commercial.

I want the known, common, and predictable. With MS, I got the unknown, uncommon, and unpredictable, and I don’t like it much. I know the proper name of the “armored puppy dog,” but sometimes it feels like that’s about it.

I didn’t really understand what “raising awareness” meant before I realized that I was unaware.

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.


Kristin avatar


Not sure which is more brilliant, "armored puppy dog" or the "poisonous versus venomous" lesson. Thanks for bringing much-needed laughter to my day.

Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

Benjamin Hofmeister

You are so welcome Kristin!

Elizabeth Walls avatar

Elizabeth Walls

It’s an inconvenience to life in almost every aspect. Some days good, some days not so good. But we shall not surrender !

Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

Benjamin Hofmeister

Thanks Elizabeth!


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