Coronation Streets Johnny Connor is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) during next week's shows on ITV. Over the years several TV shows have tackled an MS diagnosis with varying levels of success.
As an organisation working for and representing people who have MS we are always pleased to hear of story lines about MS in TV programmes with a wide reach among the general population. However, such responses are tinged with concern that for the sake of heightening the dramatic impact storylines will focus on worst case outcomes rather than the day to day drama of living with a disabling long term condition. This is understandable when writers need to compress storylines to fit with other plots within the drama and the focus on the effected character.
MS mostly effects young people most being diagnosed in the mid-twenties to mid-thirties but MS can be diagnosed in the teenage years and occasionally in children. We hope that this storyline will take account of issues that reflect this young age group and the decisions people need to make because of it.
Relationships are especially important and failure to understand that an MS diagnosis does not always herald the worst possible outcome is understandable. For example the fear of losing independence and the capability to live a full and active life can put huge pressure on relationships where the reality is more commonly that life goes on albeit with some physical restrictions.
Those close to somebody with MS may fail to recognise the more "hidden" characteristics of the condition such as extreme fatigue and this can cause conflict. Never the less in our experience successful warm and positive relationships are more the norm than dramatic breakups. That said the pressures of living with a long-term unpredictable condition like MS cannot be ignored and we, like other MS organisations, recognise the need for support and the value of care both in the medical context and in the wider community.
MS Research hope that the Coronation Street storyline involving Johnny, Kate and Jenny serves to raise awareness of the daily concerns of those living with MS and their support networks and sympathetically deals with a patients journey from diagnosis to acceptance.
There are many wonderful MS support facilities available across the UK and new treatments to help those living with MS continue to be developed. For further information about Multiple Sclerosis or to find out about support in your area please contact MS Research on 0117 958 6986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.