~Terms to know when living with Multiple Sclerosis~
Whether you are newly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or you have been living with MS for many years, you already know it is hard enough living with MS. Then adding learning and remembering an entirely new vocabulary makes things even more challenging, and confusing. I know there are times I still get a little flustered when talking to my neurologist or try explaining to someone the way I am feeling. I am going to share some useful terms to try to help make things somewhat easier to understand. Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor or medical professional, just a person that has lived with MS for more than twenty years.
Fatigue is one term we are probably all too aware of. This is one of the most common and important symptoms relating to MS. It has been suggested by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, that this affects about 80% of all people living with MS.
Vision problems tend to be the first sign of MS for many people. This was the way the doctors discovered that I had MS. I think I have told y’all before, I had gone to the eye doctor thinking I was going blind in one eye, but the doctor said as gently as he could that he thought I had MS. I was terrified and only 19 years old, so I was still a child with a naïve mind. Inflammation of the optic nerves is knowns as optic neuritis. This can cause several problems, such as blurred vision, eye pain, and/or blind spots.
Brain fog is not a medical condition, but a term that is used to explain certain symptoms affecting the ability to think. Brain fog can make thoughts seem cloudy and you are not able to think clearly. This might cause you to feel confused, disorganized, and/or find it difficult to focus or put thoughts into words. This is also sometimes referred to as MS brain, cog fog, or cotton brain.
Slurred speech is often due to the loss of coordination of the tongue, lip, cheek, and mouth muscles. This loss of coordination may also result in trouble swallowing.
Loopy, which can be best described as feeling tired and/or almost like you are drunk.
Jelly leg, which may be referred to as jell0o legs or noodle legs. When experiencing jelly legs, you are legs will not work correctly.
Hallway pinball is when your walk is weaving from side to side. With MS, your legs may sometimes feel wobbling, weak, and tired. You might lose some control of your legs and when walking down a hallway, forcing you to bounce back and forth from side to side like something you would see on a pinball machine, hence the name.
Wooden leg or legs is a phrase that is used to describe the stiffness in the legs.
Foot drop is a term used to explain weak muscles that make it difficult to lift the front part of your foot or feet as you walk.
One major symptom of MS is chronic or acute pain. Shooting pains are typically acute, which means they come on suddenly, intensely, and then disappear. Pain is something I have battled with for the past 20 years and it does not get easier with each year that passes. However, I will not allow the pain that my life is plagued with bring me down and will always try to continue pushing through it, no matter how awful it gets. Truthfully, the pain does get worse when it rains or I am stressed. Lhermitte’s sign is a type of shooting pain. This is a sudden sensation that mirrors an electric shock passing down the back and into the spine and might radiate out into your arms and legs. This is usually triggered by bending your head forward towards your chest.
MS hug is a type of hug I never want. This term describes a constricting pressure surrounding the chest or waist area. It feels like there is a snake around you and just continues to squeeze or at least that is how it feels to me. The pain involved with the MS hug can range anywhere from mildly annoying to extremely annoying and tends to come along with a burning sensation. An MS hug is caused by spasms of the muscles between the ribs.
Spasticity, also referred to as spazzy. This is a common symptom of MS and can occur in any area of the body, but most commonly is in the legs. With this, the muscles might feel simply tight or can be extremely painful. There are two types of spasticity:
1. Flexor affects the back of the leg and upper thigh.
2. Extensor which affects the front of the upper thigh and inside of the upper leg.
Twitchy means you are experiencing twitching from spasticity.
Considering MS affects the central nervous system, the pins and needles sensation is common and most often felt in the limbs. This has been something I have dealt with for years and it is not easy to deal with. Even though I am on a high amount of Gabapentin, I do still feel this every day of my life.
Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope you found this information helpful or at least made things a little clearer. Believe me when I say, I understand how hard it is to remember every term used in the medical field and I have learned more by sharing this information with y’all. I think we can all continue to learn more, and we can help one another with this learning curve. I would love to read your comments on this post, and I will respond as quickly as I can. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!
Reblogged this on Survivors Blog Here Mental Health Collaborative .
Very well written. I especially liked the hallway pinball description, not that it was funny but rather I could relate. I am struggling to find the proper balance between dealing with my symptoms and getting the things I want/need to get done. Just yesterday I struggled with putting a door knob on. Absolutely wiped me out and I still have several to go. Isn’t this challenge fun? I try not to complain too much but sometimes it is quite frustrating.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this blog. I enjoy knowing that there are others who share the same challenge and like to raise someone up with a cheerful word when they need it. That’s what community is about.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I am so sorry for my delayed response. You know how exhausting MS is and then adding life into the mix. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be putting door knobs on because I honestly haven’t a clue how to begin! MS is not easy to live with, but somehow we all do. It is important to have others that can relate so we do not feel so alone!!
This is a very informative post and you did a great job explaining what can happen in the body of someone with MS. Even though you’ve just read a lot of factual information about this disease, it still can be quite alarming. We’re all given a cross to bare in this life, but it’s how we respond to it that determines our character. Yes, we can feel sorry for ourselves and be angry, but where will that get us? Alyssa’s blog is meant to encourage and inspire each and every one of us despite the battle we’re fighting. The strength and determination she pours out to all of us is remarkable. I’m thankful for the insight and courage she portrays to us all. Keep up the good work and keep fighting. All my Love & Support, Mom!!
LikeLiked by 1 person