Multiple Sclerosis Triggers and Ways To Avoid Them

Multiple Sclerosis can be a challenging illness to live with, but there are often ways to manage the difficulties. Many things can trigger symptoms, but there are also ways to avoid many of these triggers. It takes time to understand what exactly triggers your symptoms and then to discover the best way to avoid them. Just like each person experiences MS differently, each person will have different triggers and ways to combat those triggers. Of course, please remember that I am not a doctor or medical professional, I am just another person living with MS, and have researched the topic. Today, I am going to share 10 triggers and ways to avoid these triggers.

1. Stress: We all experience stress in our life but having a chronic condition like Multiple Sclerosis can create an entirely new source of stress. Other types of stress can be a result of work, personal relationships, or financial struggles. Too much stress for anyone can cause difficult times, but too much stress for someone with MS can contribute to the worsening of symptoms.

Ways to avoid stress might include finding a relaxing, stress-reducing activity that takes your mind off stress. This activity is anything you find enjoyable because this is for YOU and YOUR health. A few things that may appeal to you are yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises. These practices can help you to relax and obliterate risks for causing symptoms to worsen.

2. Heat: Any form of heat whether it be from the sun, sauna or, a hot tub can be too extreme for people with Multiple Sclerosis. This can often time lead to an exacerbation of symptoms. From my own experience, heat is the enemy which is difficult because I love the beach. I think my saving grace at the beach is the ocean breeze!

It is not always easy to avoid the heat, especially where I live in the south. The best way to avoid this is to keep your house cool and purchase extra fans. Also, on days when there is extreme heat avoid direct sunlight, wear light loose clothing, and stay in the shade as much as possible. Steer clear of saunas, hot tubs, and those hot yoga studios.

3. Childbirth: Many women with MS experience a relapse after giving birth. As a matter of fact, 20-40% of women endure a relapse in the period of time after giving birth. Thankfully, my husband and I do not have children, so I have not experienced this issue. Of course, no one can prevent a relapse after childbirth, but this would be a time to take some steps to reduce how severe the impact is. During the immediate days after childbirth, lean on family and friends to assist with your new bundle of joy so you may get rest and take care of yourself. This can help your body recover more effectively.

4. Becoming Sick: Certain types of infection can cause a relapse and MS can create certain types of other infections. Infection such as the flu or even something as simple as the common cold may cause MS symptoms to worsen.

Avoiding sickness can be challenging, especially with COVID spreading like wildfire. Even with the numerous challenges involved with avoiding getting sick, living a healthy lifestyle can help with preventing infections and other illnesses. It is also helpful to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds multiple times a day and distance yourself from anyone that is sick, especially if you are experiencing a relapse.

5. Some Vaccines: While most vaccines are safe and recommended for those with Multiple Sclerosis, certain vaccines contain live pathogens, which can create the risk of exacerbating symptoms. If you are experiencing a relapse or taking certain medications, consult with your neurologist before getting any vaccines because it might be in your best interest to postpone the vaccine. Your doctor will know the best way to handle this and will advise you regarding vaccines.

I will be completely honest with y’all with the medication I take for MS, Gilenya, I was advised years ago to not get vaccines. Of course, that was 20 years ago and so many changes with medications with additional research. I had always been leery of getting anything and it was not due to the needles, I just feared for negative interactions. However, my current neurologist told me things with the Gilenya had changed over the years and the only vaccines that were not safe were the ones that were live vaccines, and I was able to get the COVID vaccine and I can get the flu vaccine if I decide I want it. My neurologist did highly recommend I get the flu vaccine, but I am not in any rush to do this!

6. Vitamin D Deficiency: At least one study discovered that people with lower vitamin D levels have an increased risk of relapse than someone with adequate vitamin D levels. It has been suggested that Vitamin D can protect against developing MS, but even more research that revealed Vitamin D affects the disease as it is needed.

The best way to prevent the issue of Vitamin D deficiency is to make sure your doctor regularly checking your Vitamin D levels. There are supplements available, some foods have high amounts of Vitamin D, and safe sun exposure can help increase and maintain your levels. However, while supplements may seem safe and legit, it is best to discuss any supplements with your doctor before beginning them to ensure there are not any negative interactions and they will provide suitable results.

7. Inadequate Amount of Sleep: Sleep has an important role in our overall health. The body utilizes sleep to repair the brain and restore other areas that have been damaged. When we do not get sufficient sleep, our body does not get the necessary time to rest and rejuvenate. Too much fatigue can trigger symptoms and/or make symptoms worsen. With muscle spasms, pain, and tingling, MS can make sleep rather troublesome.

Considering how vital sleep is for our health, it is crucial to discuss sleep issues with your doctor. Bring the issue to your doctor’s attention can help determine if any other conditions causing the sleep struggles.

8. Poor Diet: A well-balanced and healthy diet, along with regular exercise can be beneficial for avoiding relapses and/or reduces Multiple Sclerosis symptoms. A diet considering of processed foods will not supply your body with the nutrition that is required.

To avoid developing a poor diet habit, working with a dietitian to discover the best healthy eating plan you can carry on with could be extremely helpful. Although, research is not clear as to the best diet is for people with MS, eating healthy foods can have a positive impact on everyone’s health. Concentrate on good sources of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates is one of the best ideas.

9. Certain Medications & Stopping Medications Too Soon: The truth is some medications that can make symptoms worse. Your neurologist will need to monitor all medications you are taking to ensure there are no interactions that can trigger symptoms to worsen. Even though some medications can have negative side effects, this does not mean you should stop any abruptly. You should always consult with your neurologist before starting or stopping all medications as to not increase your risk of a relapse.

The 10th Trigger Can Be Pushing Yourself Too Far & Too Hard: As already stated, fatigue is a common symptom for those living with Multiple Sclerosis. With that said, if you have MS and continuously push yourself to go with too little sleep and/or overwork yourself physically and/or emotionally, you might face ramifications. The combination of overexertion and fatigue can trigger a relapse or make a relapse last longer.

The best way to avoid a relapse due to pushing yourself too hard is, be easier on yourself or at least listen to the cues your body is telling you. Start slowing down when you become tired. Rest as much as possible when you can. Understand that pushing yourself to exhaustion, the recovery will take that much longer. It is important to know that our body does know when it has had enough and when it needs to rest and take a break!

I hope the information provided in this post will be beneficial whether you have MS or another chronic condition. Living with any chronic condition can be complex and I am only way too familiar with Multiple Sclerosis, and with March being Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, I wanted to be able to share as much useful information as I could.

Thank you for visiting my site today! I hope you have a nice and safe weekend! I am looking forward to reading your comments and I promise to respond as quickly as I possibly can! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

9 Multiple Sclerosis Facts

In previous posts, I have explained that Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune and neurologist illness. What this means is MS affects the nerves, but also the body’s defenses to fight disease fails and begins to attack the cells. The immune system attacks the body’s myelin when you have MS. Myelin is a protective substance covering the nerves, so when this happens it leaves the nerves unprotected. The nerves being unprotected makes them vulnerable to damage, which causes them to not function as they would if there was healthy myelin. The damaged nerves create a wide range of symptoms that vary in seriousness.

A few additional facts regarding MS to understand are:

1.Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic condition, which means it is a lifelong condition and it does not currently have a cure. It is important to understand that even though there is not a cure, it is not fatal. There are 2.3 million people worldwide living with MS and they all have the standard life expectancy. It is only in rare cases there might be complications severe enough to shorten the life of a person. Overall, with MS most symptoms can be regulated with medication, adjustment to lifestyle, or both.

2. Multiple Sclerosis affects younger adults, and often women. Although MS can be diagnosed in children and older adults, people are mainly diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Women are two to three times more likely to develop MS than men. If the person is diagnosed is over the age of 50, this is normally called late-onset MS. It can be challenging for older adults to find a diagnosis of MS due to other age-related conditions having similar symptoms.

3. Multiple Sclerosis can be arduous to diagnose. Often symptoms and single tests are not enough to be able to make an accurate MS diagnosis. The challenges are due to the symptoms mirroring the symptoms of other conditions. Numerous tests that can be used to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms a person is experiencing, which include:

A. Blood tests to rule out Lyme disease, which can trigger the same symptoms of MS.

B Neurologist Exam

C. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

D. Visual evoked potential (VEP) test, which looks for impaired transmission present along the optic nerve pathways.

E. Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) Analysis is a way to look for conditions affecting the brain and spine. The CSF analysis is a series of laboratory tests performed on a sample of the CSF, which is a clear fluid that cushions and delivers nutrients to the CNS.

F. Optical coherence tomography (OCT)

4. The symptoms involved with Multiple Sclerosis vary and the list is long. The truth is, there is no such thing as typical symptoms because everyone that lives with this illness experiences it differently. Some symptoms may simply come and go, or some may regain a lost function, such as bladder control. A few possible symptoms include numbness and tingling, vision problems, balance and mobility issues, and slurred speech. The unforeseeable pattern of symptoms is due to whatever nerves are being attacked by the immune system at any given time. Most things are just unpredictable, and we must deal with the issues as they come up.

5. Multiple Sclerosis is comprised of relapses and remissions. Remission is the period of time when the symptoms have improved. Remission does not indicate the MS is gone, but these periods may last days, weeks, months, or in some cases years. Relapse or exacerbation is the incidence of a new symptom or worsening of an old symptom. This occurrence can be mild or severe enough to interfere with the ability to function. No two exacerbations are the same, so it is important to consult with your neurologist when you deal with one.

6. There is a cognitive part to Multiple Sclerosis. All the damage MS causes to the nerves can also impact critical thinking and other cognitive (mental) skills. It is not unheard of or abnormal for people with MS to have issues with memory and or finding the right words to convey what they are thinking. A few other cognitive effects may include:

*An inability to concentrate or pay attention

*Decreased problem-solving skills

*Difficulty with spatial relations, which means the ability to perceive two or more objects positioned in space relative to oneself and in relation to each other.

*It is normal for cognitive problems to create frustration, depression, and/or anger, but these are issues your doctor can help monitor and manage.

7. Multiple Sclerosis has been labeled as an “invisible illness” or “silent disease”, which makes sense because at face value people with MS look no different than those without MS. Symptoms such as blurred vision, sensory problems, and chronic pain cannot be seen by anyone else. However, some people that do require special accommodations, even though they do not have mobility issues and appear to be fine. One reason why MS has been labeled a “silent disease” is that even during remission, the disease is still, unfortunately, progressing, which has been referred to as “silent progression” of MS.

8. Staying cool whenever possible is greatly beneficial. Heat intolerance is another common issue that can cause an exacerbation of symptoms. People with MS may experience an increase of symptoms from hot weather or sun exposure, fever or illness, hot baths, or showers, and overheating from exercise.

It might be helpful to use fans and air conditioning, cool drinks, and/or icy compresses to stay cool. Wearing layers of lightweight clothing that is easy to remove may serve as a benefit as well. Also, utilizing a cooling vest that can be purchased online. Although people might experience a heat-related relapse, it is important to understand that heat does not cause MS to progress any faster.

9. Vitamin D plays a vital role in Multiple Sclerosis. Research has indicated a link between Vitamin D and MS, which showed the nutrient can function as a protector against MS and possibly lead to fewer relapses. Sunlight triggers the production of Vitamin D in the body, but that sun exposure can also lead to heat-induced symptoms. There are plenty of ways to increase Vitamin D without sun exposure which include fortified milk, orange juice, cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, and eggs or there are also Vitamin D supplements available.

I hope you found this information useful for yourself or someone you know. Please just keep in mind that I am not a doctor or medical professional, I am just someone that has lived with MS for over 20 years. I have experienced most of what is in this post, but that one thing I did not do when I was diagnosed was have the CSF Analysis. I have heard it is not pleasant, but people do live through it. There are still a few days left in the month of March and I do plan on doing a few more posts for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness. I do feel like there is a lot of information available and it needs to be shared with as many people as possible!

Thank you for visiting my site today. I always appreciate your continued support and truly love reading your comments. I hope you are having a good week and you are staying safe because COVID is still a threat. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Motivational Monday

~Let Us Begin This Week With All Positive Thoughts~

Happy Monday y’all! I hope you had a nice, relaxing, and safe weekend, and you are ready to begin this new week. My weekend was uneventful which is a great way to spend the weekend or at least it is for me. The only bad part of the weekend was I could hardly sleep but 2 hours on Friday night, so Saturday I was exhausted. The crazier thing was, there was no reason for me not to sleep Friday night. Normally, when I have sleepless nights I am worried about something or stressed and I do not think I was, at least not consciously.

As our week begins and the weekend has ended I always feel we might need a little motivation to get us started in the best way possible. I try to share quotes that I enjoy, but do hope the one I am sharing today will serve you with the motivation and inspiration you need. Most of us think of Jim Carey as a comedian, but he can be insightful like this quote indicates. Of course, I hope your week begins well and continues to improve with each day that passes. I am looking forward to reading your comments and promise to respond as quickly as I can, which will probably be when I am out of work.

As y’all know March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month and I am planning to do a few more posts about MS. I have my virtual appointment with my neurologist tomorrow afternoon and I am hoping we will be discussing the MRI I had several weeks ago. In the past, I was always nervous about hearing the results, but I did read the report and it looked to me as a good report with no terrible changes. I guess I will hear what the neurologist says and I will keep y’all informed.

Thank you for visiting my site today! I hope you have a great and safe day will very little unnecessary stress. I have learned over the years that most things I stress over are not as important as I think they are and should just let go of these things. I cannot say I always let go of things, but I am trying. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

4 Helpful Tips

Ways to have a good day after a bad night’s sleep

There is so much focus on getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night to be more productive and feel most energized. This tends to make people center their attention only on the night but is just as important to consider what we can do during the day to help us get a good and restful night’s sleep.

One common mistake people make after a bad night’s sleep is to take it easy or rest up. Often our energy level feels like it is a limited resource, and we try to reserve it, but this is not the best idea. We can increase our energy and reduce fatigue by doing more, instead of less. Now allow me to explain further with 4 simple key areas.

Continue with your full schedule

Whether you have work, school, or both do not call in sick and/or cancel appointments. Maintaining the same schedule, you had planned when you anticipated sleeping well can serve as a benefit. Your typical schedule might keep you busy enough so you do not have time to think about how tired you are. Another benefit is the next time you lay your head down to fall asleep, you will not have to stress about how you are going to deal with a bad night of sleep because you know you can deal with it the best way possible by staying busy.

Avoid low energy people

When it comes to other people, your first thought might be avoiding high-energy people because you are feeling so low energy. Of course, I know right now with COVID we are not around many people, but it is possible that spending time with others that make you feel more energized and alive will increase your energy. Whether it is due to COVID or you are more introverted, find just one friend or family member you enjoy spending time with, but do this safely. This might assist you in reducing moodiness and make your mood better.

Maintain confidence in your body and relax your mind

Throughout the day, do not dwell on how you are going to catch up on sleep. Understanding that our body can adjust to most situations and will help us sleep more soundly and restful when necessary. Our body is more resilient than we give it credit for and it knows how to take care of itself. Going to bed earlier than normal or taking naps will create problems with our internal clock and we will have more issues in the long run, which is why it is crucial to maintain our normal schedule. We need to trust our body to get the sleep we required and wasting time watching the clock and calculating the amount of sleep we will get only generates stress and irritation, which will make sleep nearly impossible.

Do not rely on caffeine or coffee

Natural methods for increasing energy are much better for our body. We should always try to avoid caffeine pills and energy drinks because they are only a short-term fix, but the crash and/or other negative side effects can be awful, and we will wish we did not consume anything. The benefits you can get from sunlight, talking with friends, or exercise, even just a short walk may be a lot more powerful for the long-term.

Over the years, I have dealt with sleep problems and mainly because my mind is always on overdrive. The nights that I struggled with sleep and then the next day felt exhausted with hardly any energy, but I did always push through the day. Normally, I can handle a lack of sleep well for a couple of days because I do trust that my body knows when it has had enough.

Something I have done without for over one year is caffeine. In the past when I was low energy due to a bad night’s sleep, I would consume a great amount of caffeine. Honestly, to me, the crash from caffeine is worst than the tired feeling because it can produce awful headaches and I already endure these so I do not need any additional headaches.

I hope you found the information I have provided helpful! I would, of course, love to know what you thought or if this was how you normally handle a bad night’s sleep. I hope you had a lovely, relaxing, and safe weekend! Daylight savings tends to throw my internal clock off, so I am still awfully tired today. I guess it is a good thing I have a day to get used to the time change before another week begins tomorrow or it would be a long week! Thank you for taking the time to read this post! I hope the rest of your weekend goes well! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Finally, some good news!

Good afternoon y’all! I was not able to do my normal Let It Go Friday post, but do have an even better one to share with y’all! I hope you had a good week, and you are ready to enjoy your weekend safely! Do y’all have any plans for the weekend? We were thinking about going to look at kittens, but I think we are putting this on hold for a little while. We might hold off for summertime because there is a ragdoll mama that will be having kittens and they will be available!

There is always so much bad news we hear about daily, so when we finally get good news it is something to celebrate and share! I believe I told y’all that I was waiting for my reapproval for my Gilenya copay assistance. This medication had worked very well keeping my Multiple Sclerosis at bay, which is wonderful. The only problem with this medication is the cost. With insurance, but without copay assistance, this medication would cost $8,000 per month. Logically, who can afford something this outrageous?

I had mailed the application to the Gilenya Go Program about 2 weeks ago because I do not have a fax machine at home, we all know how slow mail is! Anyways, last week I received a request for additional information from the Gilenya Go Program. Thankfully, while I was at my doctor’s appointment last week, the nice ladies there faxed the paperwork that was requested for me. Today, I heard the BEST news I have heard all month, and my application was approved. Instead of paying $8,000 per month for this medication, I will pay nothing!

Of course, I have not had an appointment with my Neurologist to go over the results from my MRI, but I did read the report. From what I read and not having a medical license, it appeared that the results were stable, and nothing had changed from the previous MRI I had a few years ago. In my naïve and not professional thoughts, no change is much better than changes for the worst! This is all thanks to the Gilenya that I take daily for my MS. Previously, after I had an MRI, I dreaded the results because there were normally negative results. 

I have an appointment on March 23rd to hear my neurologist talk about the results in medical terms. I am not dreading this appointment because from what I read, my results are not awful and remaining better than they were in the past! I am just extremely relieved that my application with the Gilenya Go Program was approved and I will be able to get the medication every month, without any delays or problems!

Thank you for stopping by my site today! I know we are all busy and I appreciate you taking the time to read what I wrong, and share your amazing comments. I hope you have a great Friday and a fantastic, and safe weekend! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Brain Health with Multiple Sclerosis

~Ways To Keep Your Brain Healthy~

Living with Multiple Sclerosis over the past twenty years has taught me a lot about strength, determination, and the power of the mind. Of course, I am always wanting to learn more about different ways to beat this unpredictable illness and I would like to share with y’all something that I learned with research. I have said this in previous posts, but feel it is important to say again, I am not a doctor or a medical professional and what I write about when discussing anything related to the medical field is based on my research.

It is common knowledge that Multiple Sclerosis is a neurological condition that affects the brain and nervous system. With that said, I am going to explain 5 approaches that can help protect our brain health.

1. See a neurologist:

A neurologist is a doctor that specializes in the nervous system, which includes the brain. There are several ways a neurologist can be helpful that include, but not limited to:

A . Monitor any progression of the condition we are dealing with.

B. Evaluate the treatment plan to ensure it is providing the best prevention of progression and or disability.

C. When necessary, recommend changes to the current treatment plan

D. Disclose information regarding any new and/or experimental treatment options.

I think it is crucial to have a neurologist you trust and are comfortable with because they are the ones helping prevent the progression of the specific disease. This type of specialist tends to have a personality of a gnat, but there is one out there for all of us. Over my 20 year stretch with Multiple Sclerosis, I have seen around 5 or 6 and at least 3 of them did not work because I did not trust their abilities, nor did I feel comfortable with them. You must feel comfortable and trust the specialist you see because your health is basically in their hands.

2. Discover the disease-modifying treatment (DMT) that works best for you:

Disease-modifying treatments are a class of medications that were designed to slow the progression of MS. These medications can help in several ways which include, but not limited to:

A. Ward off the growth of lesions on the brain and/or spinal cord

B. Decrease the frequency and seriousness of relapses.

C. Diminish the risk of disability.

The specialist you see should be able to explain the various types of DMT’s, which include explaining the potential benefits and risks of each. During my MS journey, I have tried several and found some that worked well for other people but did not work for me. I think it can be one of those trial-and-error situations. I learned quickly that I cannot do shots and it has nothing to do with the needle, as I do not have a fear of needles, but everything to do with the side effects I could not handle.

3. Be involved with Cognitive Rehabilitation:

Cognitive rehabilitation entails utilizing memory or learning exercises to improve cognitive functioning. These exercises have the potential to help many things which include the following: Memory, learning, and attention.

4. Find time for mentally stimulation activities:

If we try taking part in mentally stimulating activities daily, it can increase brain volume and expand our cognitive reserves. By doing these activities daily or at least every other day, they can help protect us from memory loss and other cognitive changes. Simply giving our brain a good workout with thought-provoking activities could prove to be fun and keep our brain healthy. It may be beneficial to make time in our schedule for something such as:

A. Complete a crossword puzzle, Sudoku puzzle, or any other word or numbers game. I love Sudoku puzzles but have never been good with crossword puzzles, but then again, I have not actually tried.

B. Read books, magazines, or other types of materials.

C. Write diary/journal entries, short stories, or poetry (all for your eyes only if you choose)

D. Paint, sculpt, or other types of work of art.

5. Try getting some exercise:

Getting a little regular physical activity is vital for our overall health. This does not mean we must join a gym and go every day; it can be something simple and easy to do at home. Exercise can possibly help with various things, such as:

A. Preserve OR increase brain volume.

B. Improve cognitive processing speed

C. Boost memory

D. Lessen fatigue.

E. Decrease the risk of depression.

I hope the information provided in this post was helpful for you or someone you know. It is important we do all we can to protect our brain health, which can help to prevent any additional challenges with Multiple Sclerosis. I decided 20 years ago when I was first diagnosed with this disease and promised my late Grandfather, I was not going to allow it to defeat me, and I would continue to fight until I lost the ability to do so which has not happened yet!

Thank you for visiting my site today! I always appreciate your continued support and enjoy reading your comments, which I do my best to respond as quickly as I can. I hope your week is going well and you are looking forward to the upcoming weekend, which is finally almost here! I do hope any plans you have for the weekend you will remain safe!! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

As you read this post, please be advised that I am not a medical professional. The information in this post is based on the research I have done since being diagnosed with this disease 20 years ago. The one thing about this disease that is important to understand is, it is extremely unpredictable and everyone, no matter what type of MS they have experiences it different. It does not matter if two people have the same type of MS, everyone experiences and deals with it differently.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that means that the body’s immune system attacks its tissues. This is a very unpredictable disease, and everyone experiences it differently. In this post, I am going to explain the four different types of MS and the distinctive characteristics of each type.

Radiologically Isolated Syndrome (RIS), is not considered part of the MS path, but has been utilized to categorize those with abnormalities on the brain and/or spinal cord that are consistent with a lesion of MS, and do not have any current or previous neurological symptoms or abnormalities discovered on a neurological exam. Many individuals had an MRI due to symptoms, such as headache, and revealed lesions appearing similar to those found in MS. During a study in 2020, it was uncovered that more than half of individuals with RIS will develop MS within 10 years.

Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) is a path of MS. CIS is referred to as the first occurrence of neurologic symptoms, which last at least 24 hours. This occurrence is caused by inflammation OR demyelination in the Central Nervous System (CNS). CIS can be classified as monofocal OR multifocal. Monofocal is when a person experiences a single neurologic sign or symptom that is caused by a single lesion. An example of this is an optic neuritis attack. Multifocal occurs when a person endures more than one sign or symptom caused by lesions in more than one area. An example of this is an optic neuritis attack and tingling in the feet. An important thing to be aware of is, just because an individual experiences CIS, it does not mean they will develop MS. The healthcare provider faces two challenges with diagnosing CIS:

1. Determining if the person is experiencing a neurologic episode caused by damage to the CNS.

2. Determine the chance from the damage the person is experiencing is a form of demyelination that will develop into MS.

Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) is the most common and the type I was diagnosed with 20 years ago. Approximately, 85% of individuals with MS are originally diagnosed with RRMS. This type of MS has evidently defined the attack of new or increasing neurologic symptoms. The attacks are also referred to as relapse or exacerbations and are followed by periods of partial or complete recovery, which is also known as remissions. While there is not any obvious progression of the disease during a remission, symptoms may disappear or some of the symptoms may continue and become permanent.

RRMS can be further described by inflammatory attacks on myelin, which is the layers insulating membranes surrounding nerve fibers in the central nervous system (CNS) and the nerve fibers. Throughout the inflammatory attacks, activated immune cells cause small, restricted areas of damage that create the symptoms of MS. Considering the areas of the damage varies, no two people will experience the same symptoms at any given time.

Those who have RRMS tend to have more brain lesions and more inflammatory lesions that appear on the MRI scans. Individuals are often diagnosed with RRMS in their 20’s and 30’s but can also occur in both childhood and later adulthood. Women are diagnosed 2-3 times more often than men.

The symptoms of RRMS can and normally are different for each person, but there are some common issues. The most common symptoms for RRMS are fatigue, numbness, vision problems, spasticity or stiffness, bowel and bladder problems, and issues with cognition. It has been suggested that a transition from RRMS to years SPMS typically will take place in people who have lived with RRMS for at least 10, but this does not always happen.

Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS) is another type of MS. This type of MS usually follows a period of the relapsing-remitting disease, the levels of disability gradually increase with or without evidence of disease activity.

SPMS is basically a second phase of the disease. Individuals with this type of MS may or may not ensure relapses caused by inflammation. However, the disease slowly changes from the inflammatory process like seen with RRMS to a consistent phase classified by nerve damage or loss.

Before the availability of disease-modifying therapies, some studies suggested that 50% of those diagnosed with RRMS would shift to SPMS within 10 years, and 90% would change within 25 years. The many different medications that are available in 2021 have provided a positive impact on disease progression. However, experts say it is still too soon to know the extent to which these disease-modifying treatments will change or slow the transition to SPMS.

Considering the transition from RRMS to SPMS is a gradual process, the healthcare provider will not know when exactly it occurs. The challenges the healthcare provider faces is establishing if:

1. The worsening is permanent, but some damage remains after the inflammatory attack ended, meaning the individual is experiencing an RRMS disease course.

2. OR the disease continues to get worse, but the individual is no longer enduring an inflammatory relapse, which would indicate the person has transitioned to an SPMS disease course.

The fourth type of Multiple Sclerosis is Primary Progressive MS (PPMS). This type is classified by worsening neurologic function from the onset of symptoms without early relapses or remissions.

Each person that lives with PPMS will experience this disease differently. Commonly, PPMS may have short intervals when the disease is stable, with or without a relapse or any MRI activity, as well as duration when there is increasing disability occurring with or without new relapses or lesions on an MRI.

PPMS is different from RRMS and SPMS because it does not include the same issues with inflammation. Although people with PPMS have fewer brain lesions than those with RRMS and SPMS, they do tend to have more lesions on their spinal cord. Typically, people with PPMS experience more problems with walking and may require more assistance with everyday activities.

From my own experience with Multiple Sclerosis, I was a terrified child when I was diagnosed. I was only 18 years old and did not know much about the disease. In my naïve childlike mind, I was going from being diagnosed to a wheelchair and then death. Yes, I was diagnosed, but did not end up in a wheelchair yet. I think it is extremely important for anyone newly diagnosed to do research, build a strong and honest relationship with a neurologist, and have a strong support system. It can be a scary and terrifying diagnosis, but a normal life can still be lived, especially one the right disease-modifying treatment is found!

Thank you for visiting my site today. This is my first post about Multiple Sclerosis for MS Awareness Month. There is so much information out there about this disease and I only wish I had this when I was diagnosed all those years ago. I can remember how I felt because I was alone in the exam room when I heard the news and it felt like the room was spinning out of control. I did not want anyone to know I had MS, but that was rather silly. Now days, I am open about it and want to help others that are dealing with this disease. I want y’all to know, no matter how alone you feel, you are never alone! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes! I also want you to feel free reaching out to me any time if you ever need any extra support and help!

Always, Alyssa

Headache & MRI

After work yesterday I went to have my dreaded MRI. I have been dreading getting another MRI for about three years, but finally did not have a choice and had to get it. I already mentioned that the MRI is insanely expensive because of our ridiculous healthcare in the United States. I think I have had an issue with the healthcare issue for a long time because we are the ONLY developed country that does not have “free healthcare”. It seems that many Americans believe that free healthcare is wrong, and I cannot understand their logic. I have heard from many people living in countries that do have free healthcare and they love it.

The complaint I have heard about free healthcare is you have to wait a long time before seeing a specialist or having a procedure, such as an MRI. The thought process is ludicrous and typically the thoughts of someone that believes what the politicians are saying, which is mostly lies.

Anyways, my MRI was not that bad. It was EXCEPTIONALLY long and LOUD. One of the images felt more like a small earthquake because it felt like the entire machine was shaking vigorously. The other images had annoying sounds that were way too loud. I can say the two radiology techs were nice and told me how long each image would take. Midway through the MRI, they pulled me out to add the contrast, and at that time, I told them that one of my hands and both feet and my back were numb. They laughed and said it was probably because I was trying too hard to stay still, which was true, but I did not want to be there any longer than I had to for images to be taken again. I did ask one of the techs if anyone had ever told him that he caused headaches with all the loud noises, he just laughed and said he had heard that a few times before!

I am sure many of you have had an MRI before and know how not comfortable it is. Did you ever notice the moment you are in the machine and told to stay still, everything itches! My hair kept blowing in my face and making my nose itch, and almost every part of my body itched as well. I think it is just because I was told to stay still, and I am not good at being still for long periods. The good news is, I was told I did well, and all images were taken the way they needed to be.

I do know that I am not excited about hearing the results and would prefer my specialist just tell my husband. I figure he would be able to give me the news better if it is not good than the doctor could. I tend to think that most neurologists have the personality of a fly if that! I did have a neurologist previously that was amazing and truly kind, but he understood me and my personality because I reminded him of his daughter. I cannot begin to say how much I miss him! I think I like the Nurse Practitioner at my new specialist office better than the actual doctor, but that is how I normally am.

I am glad the MRI is over and hopefully will not need to do it again for many years! I went about three years before this last one and hopefully can do that again! When I do know what the results of the MRI are, I will do a post about it and share the news, whether it is good or bad news. Let us just hope for the best!

Thank you for visiting my site today. I know I normally do “Tranquil Tuesday”, but felt it was better to tell you about the MRI experience. Overall, the MRI was not as awful as I was making it out to be, but it did cause a mild headache. I hope you are having a good week and staying as safe as you possibly can. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Thoughts of Chloe & an MRI

~We will always miss Chloe~

Today, I am going to write about two different things. One topic is about today being three weeks since we lost our sweet little girl, Chloe. The second topic is the MRI I am being forced to get. Both topics are weighing heavily on my mind, so I need to write about them because that is how I cope with difficulties with life. The one thing that is and always will be a constant in our lives is challenging times. There is no way to avoid challenges, but we need to be able to address them head-on!

I think most of you already read my post about when we lost Chloe. I cannot believe it has already been three weeks since that precious little girl took her last breath. Even though this loss was extremely painful, and we are still struggling with losing her, we can find some comfort, and peace that we provided her with a wonderful life full of love. The Friday before Chloe passed, we had been informed by her doctor that she probably would not make it through the weekend. Of course, the offer was made we could have put her to sleep, but I am glad we decided not to, and she was able to pass in the comfort of her home and on my lap.

Tomorrow, after work on I am going to get an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). If I remember correctly, my last MRI was almost three years ago, and while I was dealing with a relapse. Of course, this type of testing is non-invasive and does not include any pain. I am sure most of you have had an MRI in the past, so you know they are uncomfortable, in part because they seem longer than they are, and you cannot move, or the image will need to be done again.

The images generated from an MRI enable doctors to see lesions in the CNS (Central Nervous System). Depending on the type of damage and the scan used, lesions will show up as white or dark spots. An MRI will show damaged areas called lesions, or plaques on the brain or spinal cord and can be used to monitor disease activity or progression.

An MRI with contrast dye can show MS disease activity by showing a pattern consistent with inflammation of active demyelinating lesions. Contrast dye is a substance injected into the vein and used to make certain types of lesions show clearer on the MRI scan. Demyelinating lesions are a kind of lesion that is either new or increasing in size due to demyelination, which is damage to the myelin covering certain nerves. The images obtained with contrast can also indicate areas of permanent damage that will appear as dark holes in the brain.

I have resisted getting another MRI for several years for a few reasons. One reason being, they are insanely expensive, even with insurance. The estimate for the MRI I am getting tomorrow was $2,700. The price does not make sense to me because I do have insurance and almost makes me wonder what the point of is paying for healthcare insurance when I still have an outrageous out-of-pocket for everything. I have said this several times before, but I will say it again, the United States has some of the worst healthcare in the world.

Another reason I have resisted the MRI is that the results do not matter, and I am not changing my MS medication. I feel confident saying the Gilenya is doing what it is supposed to with slowing the progression of my MS. Medications I have been on previously did not work near as well and it could have been because I was not taking them like I was supposed to. I hated doing the medications that involved giving myself shots, so with the Gilenya being oral, it is easier!

The final reason I have been stubborn about getting the MRI is because of COVID. I am still worried about going into the imagining place, but I will be wearing my mask and stay as safe as I can. I am logical enough to know the MRI is needed, but I am not thrilled about going tomorrow. I do not want to hear what the results are because they always make me cry and it is not worth the emotions or stress, so I will have the results shared with my husband.

I hope you are having a nice and safe weekend! I know y’all have busy lives, but I appreciate you taking the time to visit my site today and read what I have written. I look forward to reading your comments and promise to respond to all comments as quickly as I can. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Tranquil Tuesday

Emotions On February 16th

You may or may not remember that I did already get my first COVID vaccine and had my 2nd one scheduled for this past Saturday. Although last week was painfully difficult and I considered rescheduling, I did not want to risk missing my chance of completing the COVID series and be a little safer with this virus. My husband went with me to complete the 2nd COVID vaccine and after that, we went to pick up the remains of our sweet Chloe that had passed away the previous Sunday. I do not know if I would have had the strength to pick Chloe up if I did not have my husband with me, so I am glad we were able to do this together.

I will say there was a mixture of emotions with picking up Chloe’s remains, one part of me was incredibly sad and the other felt a sense of comfort to have her back home with us. I know some people that cannot understand having a cat cremated, but I prefer this to bury her. I already had mentioned in a previous post we lost another cat to cancer and had her cremated as well, so now they are both on our mantel in the living room. It has taken time, but I think we are both slowly healing from the loss of Chloe. Neither of us is ready to take in another cat, but we do know we will in time, so our other cat is not lonely. Our other cat does show signs that he misses Chloe and is acting out a little, but it is probably to get attention. Or maybe he is doing these things because he is just being a little boy! Who knows, but we are giving him a little slack right now!

If you read the post I did after I got the first COVID vaccine, you might remember that I was extremely nervous. When I did the 2nd COVID vaccine, I was not as nervous. I did hear there was a greater chance of side effects after the 2nd vaccine, but I did not really have any. I will admit, my arm hurt a lot for a few days and the pain did go up into my shoulder and neck, but I am used to pain. I did have a slight cough and headache, but again, I am used to things like that. Even after the two weeks or so after the 2nd vaccine, we are supposed to be protected more, I still intend to behave like I did not get the vaccine and continue wearing a mask the rare times I leave my house. I guess I look at things like it is better to be safe than sorry!

As y’all already know, I did take a break from blogging last week. I was too emotional and heartbroken to do much of anything but did try to stay busy at work. I did not have any extra energy when I was done at work to write, look at another computer screen, and was not even able to do much with crocheting the blanket I had started for my mother and her boyfriend. I am happy to say though, I have finished their blanket and will be sending it to them this week! I have always found crocheting to be relaxing and it is not all that difficult. I am happy that I can send them an extremely late housewarming gift to use in their home! They both know that even though I have known him for a lot of my life, I took a while to warm up to my mother’s boyfriend. I think I have grown a lot over this past year and gotten to know him better and think he is a decent person. I also think they are good for one another and he has helped her overcome some demons she carried with her for too long.

In life, things can get challenging and unique situations can arise. These are just a couple of the reasons why forgiveness and acceptance are so crucial. Until we walk in another person’s shoes, we will not know what they have been through in life. I think all the trials and tribulations we experience in life will either make us or break us. Everything we encounter in our life can make us even stronger than we were yesterday, and we must take all these learning experiences as opportunities for improvement!

On another note, today would have been my Poppy’s birthday! I know I have written about this amazing man before and I explained how hard I took it when he passed away back in 2013. There has not been one day I have not thought about him or wondered if he would be proud of the woman I have become. I would like to think that there are at least parts of me that stem from him. I know he was a kind, accepting, and reasonable man. He never judged someone because of the color of their skin or who they loved. These are a few things that I am deeply passionate about because the color of someone’s skin does not matter and who they love does not either. What truly matters is the way we treat other human beings, and everyone deserves respect!

Thank you for visiting my site today! Previously, I was doing Tranquil Tuesday, and sharing a quote, but today I wanted to do something a little different. Honestly, in a sense thought of my late Poppy does give me feelings of tranquility! Today’s post was a combination of a few things to get a little caught up! As always, I look forward to reading your comments 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!

Always, Alyssa