Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month Part 2

March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month and as I said in my post on March 3rd, I want to do a post about MS each week during the month. I know some information I have shared previously, but I do want to explain again what this disease is and the symptoms one might experience with this unpredictable disease. I also want to do my part in providing knowledge about Multiple Sclerosis to as many people as I can because it can easily be misunderstood or confused with other diseases. Please be advised that I am not a medical professional, but I am someone that has lived with MS for 21 years and has done countless hours of research.

Multiple Sclerosis is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. With Multiple Sclerosis, the immune system attacks the myelin, which is the protective sheath covering nerve fibers and causes communication issues between the brain and the rest of the body. In time this disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves. Unfortunately, at this time there is no cure for MS, but medication can decrease the rate of progression.

The signs and symptoms can be different from person to person. No two people will experience the same signs and symptoms at the same time. Some symptoms that target movement are numbness and or weakness in one or more limbs, typically on one side of the body at a time. People may also experience an electric-shock sensation with certain neck movements. Others may suffer from a lack of coordination or unsteadiness.

A common complication with Multiple Sclerosis is vision problems. The issues with vision can vary from partial or complete vision loss, typically in one eye at a time. Others may have prolonged double vision or blurry vision. I remember when I was diagnosed with MS, I went to my eye doctor because I had lost vision completely in my left eye. Imagine being 19 years old going to the eye doctor thinking you are going blind and finding out the vision can be repaired, but you have a lifelong, incurable disease. It was a shock to my young mind, but I guess it was good news in a way.

Even though everyone experiences MS differently and deals with different symptoms, some common symptoms are slurry speech, problems with sexual, bowel, and bladder functions, fatigue, dizziness, tingling, and or pain in parts of the body.

I still have a few other posts I will be sharing about Multiple Sclerosis this month. I will be sharing a few reasons I get frustrated with this disease. I try my best to not get overly frustrated with others who do not understand or cannot comprehend the struggles I deal with, but I am only human and do get aggravated sometimes. I will also do a post to explain the different types of Multiple Sclerosis, so please stay tuned if you are interested.

Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope you are having a great and safe week. We have almost made it through this entire week and will be able to enjoy the weekend soon. Do you have any plans for the weekend? Whatever you do this weekend, please remember to continue to stay safe. I also want to remind everyone to continue keeping those living in Ukraine in your prayers. Unfortunately, the battle they are enduring is not over yet, but hopefully, they will find peace and safety during this tragic time. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

A Never-Ending Journey

As I continue to look for another work from home job, that is the right job and not a crapshoot it becomes more and more frustrating. Considering a few things, I know about myself are working later hours and cold calling people do not work for me and my personality. I do not want to have to be overly picky, but I also do not want to start a job and must resign a few days later. Thankfully, my husband is 150% on my side and does not want me to accept something I hate just to have a job. He continues to tell me that I deserve more and I do not have to accept the first thing that comes along.

The reason working later hours is a problem is because I tend to feel better the first part of the day and the pain, and neuropathy gets worse as the day goes on. Working after 3:00 or 4:00 is manageable, but normally after 5:00 or 6:00 I feel terrible and cannot function as well. How do you explain something like that to a future employer? I cannot think of a way another person would understand, so I am trying to find something that is a work from home and first shift. I do not mind working weekends because we do not do anything anyway, but the hours are not negotiable for me.

I do not know about you, but I detest sales calls. I do not appreciate being called and asked if I am interested in purchasing something because if it was something I wanted, I would be the one calling the company. And, I do not have a desire to call people trying to sell them life insurance. It is not in my nature to call people trying to force them to buy something and when they ask questions force me to not be 100% honest. If I were going to be paid to be a liar, I would have become an attorney or a politician. Of course, not all attorneys lie but most are not completely forthright.

The reason I am looking for a work-from-home job is not that I am demanding or difficult, but with COVID and my immune system, it is not for a want to work from home as much as a need to work from home. Somehow, I have gone through these past two years of COVID and not gotten sick with COVID. The way I view COVID, and safety are a little unusual and maybe I take it to an extreme, but I must view it as if I get COVID, it is basically the end for me, and I may not survive. Do people with MS and on the medication, and get COVID and survive, sure, but I am not a gambling kind of person.

There are enough problems in this world, and I want to feel good about what I am being paid to do. Most people do not want to work and only do so to have an income to support their families. I do want to work because I enjoy having a schedule and something to do during the day. I love and enjoy staying busy, which I know is not necessarily normal, but I never claimed to be normal and prefer to just be me!

Not accepting the first job or jobs that were offered has not been an easy decision for me to make. There is a part of me that feels guilty for not working, but I am trying and will not stop until I have a job that is a good fit. I know there is one out there, but good things take time and I need to learn to be more patient. Patience has never been my strongest quality, but at this point, I do not have a choice but to learn!

Thank you for visiting my site today. I appreciate your continued support and love reading your comments. I will be responding to all comments as quickly as I can. I hope you are having a great and safe week so far and you are looking forward to the upcoming weekend! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

How to overcome Omicron stresses

No matter what state or country you are living in, we have all been living through the fears of COVID. This has been causing stress and worry for two excruciatingly long years. The isolation, social distancing (which I like), Zoom meetings, concerns about the safety of the vaccines and which one to take, and the wellness of ourselves and our loved ones have been exhausting.

We have already endured several COVID variants before the latest one, Omicron. Obviously, Omicron has come along with various new issues of stress and even more uncertainty. Omicron has created additional levels of fatigue, hopelessness, depression, frustration, and annoyance.

Everyone around the world has watched the previous COVID surges on the news. Sadly, the Omicron variant has ingrained thoughts thought we will never regain a normal life again. The feelings of hope one moment, only to feel hopeless another can cause stress hormones to consume our bodies. This mostly leads to mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion.

Making it past the current surge and any others we may face in the future means protecting your physical and emotional health. The following steps I am going to share with you are a few ways to weather the storm.

Keep everything in perspective

Even though every day feels like Groundhog Day and things we were looking forward to are canceled or postponed due to an increase in infection rates, progress continues to be made daily. Omicron is extremely contagious, but those that are fully vaccinated have caused fewer hospitalizations and deaths than the previous variants. Also, those that are vaccinated and get COVID get much more mild symptoms.

Never stop looking forward

It can be frustrating and disappointing when something we are looking forward to is canceled or postponed, but the one thing the pandemic has taught us all is to be flexible. The truth is, we have all learned that moments of joy make eliminating Omicron crucial, and we are willing to do what it takes. Understanding an attitude of flexibility is critical and helps when we continue scheduling times to celebrate. Being flexible and at peace with acceptance are a necessity until we are past the COVID surges.

Think in smaller steps

It is easy to get caught up in our negative thoughts, such as things are never going to change, everything is so difficult, or I am so overwhelmed. It might be better to focus on the smaller concerns we are having. Once we are feeling more confident with our coping abilities, we can work on the bigger concerns we are experiencing. Maybe instead of trying to plan a get-together with the number of people we once did, try inviting one of two people to an outdoor activity. Most of us are used to Zoom meetings, so maybe connect with your friends in a group Zoom or Facebook call. This allows you to stay connected without the fears of COVID.

Remember self-care

A nice warm bubble bath can help to escape feelings of being anxious and overwhelmed. Taking time for yourself to rest and relax is crucial during these stressful times. You can take 30-45 minutes a day to get lost in one of your favorite books. This would be much-needed time away from hearing anything about the virus. Too much talk and thinking about the virus can create an overwhelming amount of stress and cause other health issues. 

I know things with COVID have been weighing on many minds and it is good to not focus too much on it and let it consume our lives. However, I did feel the information in this post was important and something we all needed to read. I hope everyone is being careful and follow the advice we all heard from the experts. This is NOT a political thing, it is a matter of life and death. I think we have already lost way too many people and it needs to stop. Unfortunately, we all know at least one person that has been sick with COVID and many have lost someone they care about. We need to stand together to put an END to COVID!

Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope you had a nice, relaxing, and safe weekend and you are ready to tackle the week ahead of us. I hope you enjoyed what I have shared with you today and that it was helpful. I do look forward to reading your comments and will respond as quickly as I can. Please never remember that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

How you can stay comfortable during colder months

Multiple Sclerosis is a unique and frustrating illness to live with. When you add in the effects different temperatures can create, Multiple Sclerosis can become three times as frustrating. Each season seems to be followed by different challenges. Of course, the heat acts like kryptonite for Multiple Sclerosis and can cause symptoms to worsen. Unfortunately, extreme heat can also create new symptoms to be exposed. When someone with MS is exposed to heat, they may experience fatigue, numbness, blurred vision, tremors, confusion, weakness, and balance issues.

When the seasons change from hot to cold, those with MS are forced to battle with other issues. Cold weather causes people with or without MS to become tense. The increased tension of the muscles can cause increased spasms, muscles feeling tighter, and difficulties moving limbs.

I have lived with Multiple Sclerosis for over 20 years, and I live in an area that seems to only have two and a half seasons. This may not make sense, but I say this because the temperatures are either insanely hot for about nine months, slightly chilly for about one month, and mildly cold for two months. Some people are fortunate enough to have four true seasons and hopefully experience at least one season where they are comfortable.

When seasons bring on various challenges it is crucial to discover ways to stay well and as healthy as possible. First, we need to allow our bodies time to adjust to the differences, especially when going from extreme heat to bitter cold. This is something that cannot be rushed and will play out according to how it does.

For anyone that lives with the same medical issue as I do, Multiple Sclerosis, I am going to share a few tips that can help you stay both comfortable and warm during the colder months. If your symptoms worsen with colder temperatures, please know this should be short-lived discomfort. The following tips may be helpful for you even if you do not have MS and deal with another medical issue. I have experienced issues with temperatures more than I care to admit, but these tips helped me stay as comfortable as I can.

The first tip I have, please understand will not always be easy. Sometimes when we make simple alterations, it can make hard tasks a little easier. Even when it seems impossible, try to keep moving. Try simple and moderate physical activities, such as short walks or stretching. This tip helps you to burn energy and keep you warmer.

The second tip might take experimenting with different types of clothing. Dressing in layers helps you to stay warm and allows you to remove clothing when you get too warm. The challenges involved in determining the right clothing will be how many layers is not enough, too much, or finally just right! Wearing a hat will keep your head warm. Wearing lined boots or socks will keep your feet warm. Hats and socks will not allow heat to escape from your head or feet, which assists with keeping the rest of you warm.

The third tip I am going to share is that it is important to keep your hands and feet warm. For those of you with Multiple Sclerosis, doctors believe that MS causes blood vessels in the hands and feet to overreact to cold temperatures. To protect your hands and feet from negative effects from cold temperatures, try using hand warmers or a heating pad. REMEMBER to use CAUTION when using a heating pad and to avoid blisters, do not apply heating pad directly to your skin.

On a side note, if you do have MS, you may be at risk for Raynaud’s phenomenon. This is a condition that causes your fingers and toes to lose heat. This can cause your fingers and toes to turn from white to blue to red as the blood starts to flow again. With this condition, you may feel numbness, pain, or feel as though someone is sticking you with pins and needles, which is an awful feeling.

The fourth tip to staying comfortable during the colder months is to warm your insides. During colder months it is easy to have a hot meal, such as soup. Plus, you can sip on hot drinks like coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and pour whatever your preferred beverage into an insulated mug. This will keep your drink warm longer and reduce trips to the kitchen to warm your drink.

Lastly, even on those crisp fall days or bitterly cold winter days, getting sunshine can warm you up. Simply walking outside for a short time to soak in some rays from the sun can be beneficial. Getting a little such sunshine can warm you up, allow your body to absorb some much-needed Vitamin D, and may boost your mood.

I am sure there are many other ways to stay warm and comfortable during the colder months, but these are the ones I know work for me. I would love to read any other suggestions you may have of things that have helped you. It is not too cold where I live, but I am sure it will happen in the next few months. Honestly, the temperatures are comfortable right now, if only the rain would not come back. Even if it is not cold, the rain always makes me feel terrible!

Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope you found the information I have shared helpful, and I am looking forward to reading your comments. I promise I will respond to all comments as quickly as I can, but it will probably be once I am out of work. Please continue to do everything you can to stay safe from the virus that continues to plague the world. I do know the numbers are decreasing as more get vaccinated, but it is still a little terrifying. I hope you never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Pain Awareness Month

Since 2001, the ACPA declared the month of September as Pain Awareness Month. Considering pain is something I have lived with for many years, I thought it would be a good time to explain more in-depth what I go through daily and raise awareness for others suffering from it. Pain is something you can learn to deal with, but it does not mean that it gets any easier. For myself, the pain has become part of me, and I thought it was best to embrace it because it seems like it is never going to go away completely, and I do not think dwelling on things we do not have control over is a healthy way to live. Even though some days are worst than others and some parts of the days are more intense, I refuse to allow the pain to dictate my life. Throughout this post, I am going to explain the different types of pain there are the causes of these types of pain, and ways to discover relief.

Acute pain comes on suddenly due to something specific, such as surgery, broken bones, dental work, burns or cuts, labor, and childbirth. Typically, this pain lasts between 3 and 6 months. Acute pain tends to be a sharp, throbbing, burning, stabbing, tingling, weakness, and numbness pain.

There are several ways acute pain can be treated including resting the part of the body in pain, apply heat or cold to the area, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen, physical therapy, massage, and relaxation practices that can help with acute pain.

Chronic pain is continuous and long-standing pain that lingers past the typical recovery time or is accompanying by a chronic health condition. This pain normally lasts longer than six months, which sometimes may be on strongly, then off with no pain felt, or incessant. This pain can affect people to the point they are unable to work, eat properly, partake in physical activity, or enjoy life. The areas of pain can include the back, joints, mouth and face, muscles and bones, or neck. The pain might feel like pins and needles through the body.

Approximately, 25% of people suffering from chronic pain will go on to another condition, referred to as chronic pain syndrome (CPS). When people end up enduring CPS, their symptoms are more than just pain and may experience other issues, like depression and anxiety that interferes with their daily life. Treatments for chronic pain include nerve medications, acupuncture, stress management, and relaxation techniques, electrical stimulation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and massages. Personally, with the pain I deal with daily, stress management would be very useful because stress only intensifies the pain.

Neuropathic pain is commonly felt as shooting, burning, stabbing, tingling, numbness, and the pins and needles sensation. The pain can be felt in the feet or hands and can extend into the legs and arms.

The common causes of this pain include nerve pressure or nerve damage after surgery or trauma, viral infections, cancer, vascular malformation, alcoholism, neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, and metabolic conditions like diabetes. The ultimate goals for treating neuropathic pain are to treat the underlying disease, provide pain relief, and improve the quality of life. There are some common medications used to help this pain that includes anti-seizure drugs such as Gabapentin, Pregabalin, Topiramate, Carbamazepine, and Lamotrigine. There are also topical treatments available such as lidocaine or capsaicin.

Nociceptive pain is caused by damage to body tissue. This can occur when there is something that caused harm to the body, such as chemicals, hot or cold temperatures, or physical force. Nociceptors can sense physical damage to the skin, muscles, bones, or connective tissues in the body. This type of pain can feel sharp, aching, or throbbing.

A few common causes of nociceptive pain include bruises, burns, cuts, fractures or broken bones, pain created by repetitive or muscle overuse, and joint damage. There are also several conditions that can cause this pain such as alcoholism, diabetes, HIV or AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, and joint problems in the spine.

The treatments for this pain include physical therapy to assist in strengthening and stretching affecting the muscles and joints, over-the-counter medications (OTC) such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, hot and cold therapy, and surgery.

RADICULAR PAIN AFTER CAR COLLISION

Radicular pain is a form of pain the radiates from the back and hip into the legs through the spin The leg pain can also include numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. The pain that radiates down the back of the legs into the foot is known as radiculopathy or sciatica. The pain can be deep and consistent but might worsen with certain activities like sitting or walking.

There is various cause for spinal compression that can lead to radicular pain, which includes herniated disc, foraminal stenosis, diabetes, nerve foot injuries, and scar tissue from spinal surgery. Treating this pain involves treating the underlying condition or discovering the best-suited combination of pain management strategies. A few non-surgical treatments include physical therapy and epidural injections.

Pain is not easy to deal with and if you are experiencing pain, please know you are not alone. One in five Americans suffers from pain issues in the United States. Pain can be isolating and make us feel alone and misunderstood, but there is help for everyone. Of course, I have had Multiple Sclerosis for twenty years, but I have not experienced pain the entire 20 years. Yes, during the last fifteen years the pain has been increasing steadily, but I will never surrender to the pain, and I will defeat it someday.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my site and read this post. I hope this was helpful and gave you a sense of comfort because I can understand the pain and what I struggle it can be to handle. I wanted to let you know if you ever need someone to vent the pain to or need anything, I am here for you! I am only a message away and will respond to all as quickly as I can. Please remember that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

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

Helpful terms to know

~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!

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