I am a newbie too, tentatively diagnosed in 1996 and positively this year a few months ago.
In answer to you question about your immune system, from what I have learned from my specialist and from the great people on here, the answer is yes. I found this info whilst searching for info myself.
As you may know, MS is essentially an immune system disorder that affects the central nervous system. It is one of a number of diseases (including type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis) classified as “autoimmune”—meaning that your immune system, which normally reacts against infection, is reacting against part of your own body instead. In this case, the targets of damage are the brain and spinal cord, beginning with the myelin sheath that protects the nerves. It is generally believed that this immune system dysfunction is caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors such as viruses.
The normal immune system response to infection is carried out via a complex network of cells performing specific functions. It begins with an inflammatory reaction as white blood cells and other factors arrive at the infection site to fight the infecting body, the antigen. Two types of white blood cells are involved: lymphocytes and leukocytes.
The lymphocytes include T cells and B cells. “Helper” T cells recognize the antigen and initiate the responses against it; "suppressor” T cells help keep the process in check. B cells produce antibodies tailored to attack the particular antigen. The leukocytes manufacture proteins known as cytokines, which help reduce inflammation and aid in healing.
In MS, however, this process is disrupted at several points. The T cells mistakenly recognize myelin—particularly its protein component, myelin basic protein or MBP—as foreign and begin the series of responses to attack it. The B cells produce antibodies (“autoantibodies” in this case, because it is an autoimmune reaction) against it. The body may not have enough of the suppressor T cells to restrict the inflammation and damage. It also overproduces some of the cytokines, contributing to the disease process instead of healing.
Now, thanks to Jimmylegs, I went to have a full blood panel done. I am now waiting for another one as my specialist wants more results. My Dr told me they were normal, but for someone with MS, what is considered normal for others, is certainly not considered normal for MS patients. As soon as I get the results, he is starting me on a mixture of vitamins and minerals to boost my immune system. He has started new trials and all his MS patients are now getting blood work and vitamins/minerals as he was impressed with the info I gave him from Jimmylegs. She is a superb asset when it comes to that topic.
As for telling your employer, that's a tough one to answer. I have not told anyone for the simple fact that I can do my job and have no symptoms, plus if I was back in the UK I would have many rights as an employee and would have no issues telling my employer, but here I am not sure whether I couldn't be fired and have no leg to stand on, it really is a tough call and I don't know the best way to advise you on that one.
The great thing is you have this site and lots of people who have been there done that, tried this tried that and we as newbies can get so much advice and support here, it really is invaluable.
Good luck in whatever you decide to do.
"Just another bump in the road"