Selma Blair looked like an actual superhero at the Vanity Fair Oscars after-party Sunday night. But Tuesday, in an interview with Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts, Selma revealed just how much she is struggling—and has struggled—with her multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis.
Selma, 46, was diagnosed with MS in August 2018—but revealed to GMA that she was actually in an MS flare-up since her son was born in 2011. “Ever since my son was born, I was in an MS flare-up and didn’t know, and I was giving it everything to seem normal,” she said.
Selma also revealed she was self-medicating during that time to cope. “I was drinking. I was in pain. I wasn’t always drinking, but there were times when I couldn’t take it.”
Before her diagnosis, Selma recalled being dismissed by doctors, who chalked her complains up to her circumstances as a single mom. “I was really struggling with, ‘How am I gonna get by in life?’ And [being] not taken seriously by doctors, just, ‘Single mother, you’re exhausted, financial burden, blah, blah, blah.'” But when Selma finally got her diagnosis in August, she felt something she didn’t expect: relief. “When I got the diagnosis I cried with some relief. Like, ‘Oh, good, I’ll be able to do something.'”
During the interview, Selma also acknowledged that her voiced sounded shakier than usual, due to spasmodic dysphonia, another disorder associated with MS.
Tell me a little bit about spasmodic dysphonia. What is it exactly?
Again, if you listen to Selma’s interview, you’ll notice her voice breaking—the main symptom of spasmodic dysphonia, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).
The NIDCD says spasmodic dysphonia is a neurological disorder affecting the voice muscles in the larynx (a.k.a., the voice box). Typically, when you speak, air from your lungs is pushed between your vocal cords, which makes them vibrate and produce sound. But in spasmodic dysphonia, those vocal cords experience sudden, involuntary movements, or spasms, which interfere with vocal sounds.
Those spasms are caused by abnormalities in the central nervous system, per the NIDCD—the same part of the body that’s affected by MS. According to the National MS Society, this poorly articulated or slurred speech is commonly seen in MS patients and interfered with communication and interactions.
As far as her current prognosis, Selma said she’s working with doctors—specifically Saud Sadiq, director and chief research scientist of of the Tisch MS Research Center of New York, according to a recent interview with Vanity Fair—and hopes to have 90 percent of her abilities back within a year, thanks to a new monthly intravenous-drug therapy.
Those doctors also urged Selma to be as open as possible about her diagnosis—even though she had reservations. “I was a little scared of talking, and even my neurologist said, ‘No, this will bring a lot of awareness because no one has the energy to talk when they’re in a flare-up,’ but I do, because I love a camera,” Selma said.
Through it all, it’s clear Selma has made it a point to stay positive and grateful. “I never thought I’d have such riches and that I’d have to be so vulnerable and accepted,” she said of her son and closest friends. “It’s keeping me alive, no pressure to them,” she added, jokingly. “So rude of me, but the truth is they have been.”
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