My Week Long Absence

Happy weekend y’all! I hope you had a great week, and your weekend is going fantastic. I was a little absent from blogging last week because I was trying to get the essay that I entered into a contest perfected and submitted. Thankfully, with the help of my “editor” help, that being my husband, mother, mother-in-law, and my mother’s boyfriend, I was able to get the essay entered on my birthday. I can admit that I was being overly critical of my writing abilities and almost changed my mind several times. However, I know if I had changed my mind, I would have regretted it because I would always wonder what would have happened and that would have tormented my mind. We should always try new things because we do not know what exciting new opportunities might avail. I have always thought the only way we can truly fail in life is if we give up or just do not try.

The contest I entered was a personal essay, which I wrote about when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Of course, it was a challenging time in my life, but I do think all that transpired during that time has made me a stronger person. There is a part of me that wishes I did not have to endure this diagnosis, but at the same time, it could have been far worse. Thankfully, the form of MS I have is not the worst case, but it does entail hard times that I continue to fight through. Unfortunately, I have to wait until late December to know the results and if my essay was a winner or not!

Life is not easy, and we are all faced with different challenges, but it is how we adapt and handle these challenges that let us know our true strengths. Life takes a strong will to survive and overcome the challenges in our path. I will always keep the promise I made to myself and my late grandfather close to my heart and that was that I would NEVER surrender to the MS and would continue the fight until I will the war going on in my body. Of course, there are times when it gets almost unbearable because the pain is out of control, but if I stopped fighting what kind of person would I be?

Throughout my forty years on this planet, (I just turned 40 on September 30th) I have dealt with various situations that could have broken me. I decided as a little girl to not allow the evil in my path to destroy my happiness. So many times, during my life, people have done their best to tear me down and make me feel like I was not worth anything, but those were the evil people that do not deserve the satisfaction of defeating me.

I am sharing all this with y’all, so you know that no matter what you go through in life you are not alone. It is crucial to NEVER allow anyone to make you feel you are worthless because that is so far from the truth. I think most people that prey on those they think are weak have demons within them that they have not faced or overcome, which I think is sad. Seriously, what kind of monster would prey on a child or a woman? I think the answer is a weak and pathetic individual that needs to seek help so they can face their demons and be better people. It is not only men that can behave this way because there are women that have the same kind of demon within them. The agonizing truth is mental health is a tragic situation and it is not being handled in the best way. It is possible if mental health was being treated properly, maybe the world would be better than it is now.

Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope you have enjoyed what I have shared, and it resonates with you. Everyone around the world needs to learn to accept others for who they are and help when it is feasible. I look forward to reading your comments, which I will respond to as quickly as I can. I hope the rest of your week is spent relaxing and safe! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Possible MS Causes

I have wondered what the cause or causes of Multiple Sclerosis are since I was diagnosed twenty years ago, but the truth is there are no definitive answers. The disease has never made sense to me, and I am the type that questions everything, but not having answers is frustrating. If you think about it, most diseases have a logical cause and some, not all may be avoidable. Of course, I do understand some diseases are genetic or at least have some answers to what the causes might be, but when I asked my Neurologist 20 years ago for answers, he did not have any and he was a brilliant man.

What I have known and thought to be true about Multiple Sclerosis is it is a disease which the immune system attacks that protective sheath (myelin) which covers nerve fibers. MS is a chronic, progressive disease that involves damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. No matter how you look at this disease, there currently is not cure. It does have the potential to be debilitating and can include relapses without notice.

Recently, my husband shared a thought-provoking article with me about possible causes for MS and it made me think about the past. This article was written at The University Chicago Press Journal in December of 2011. In this article, it suggests MS is a dysfunction of the metabolism of lipids. Maybe not thinking about MS as a neurological condition, but more as a dysfunction of the metabolism of lipids would provide clearer reasons and causes. If this is true about MS, there might be ways to correct the issues and changes would be helpful for this unpredictable illness.

One part of this article talks about homeostasis, which is a part of cells, tissues, and organisms that allows for the maintenance and regulation of the stability and constancy that is needed to function properly. It is well known that stress can and does cause major problems with those of us with MS, which is why the next part had me thinking deeply about what caused me to have MS. The homeostasis of lipid metabolism collapses during an acute-phase inflammatory response that was triggered by a pathogen, trauma, or stress, which may have started a feedback loop of increased oxidative cytoxic foam cells that crossed the blood brain barrier, and both catabolize myelin and prevent remyelination.

If we start recognizing MS as a chronic metabolic disorder it would irradiate four major aspect of disease onset and progression including pathophysiology, genetics, environmental and pathogen triggers, and the sex ratio. If you have Multiple Sclerosis, can you think of any specific time before being diagnosed where you had a traumatic event or a stressful time? Has it ever crossed your mind that a traumatic event from the past triggered your disease? I know there were times in my past that were traumatic and stressful, it would make sense that even though my diagnosis was decades later the negative events contributed to my disease.

Part of me thinks this article was a stretch and I am not sure how much I believe every word of the article. Experts have researched MS for decades and still do not have answers. I am not sure how much people at the University of Chicago Press would have answers that experts do not have. There is a huge difference between hard facts and thoughts, and I need hard 100% true facts before I will believe anything. I have wanted to know the causes of MS for two decades, but at the same time want proof of these causes.

Please know that I am not a medical professional in any way, but the information in this post was all based on an article that I read. I know what my views are on the article I read, but I would love to know your thoughts on the information in this post. I am always a little hesitate about information without know for a fact the information is true.

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

Always, Alyssa

Defeat Chronic Pain

Pain is not something anyone wants to deal with or finds easy to manage. Of course, there are many that battle with chronic pain due to an illness. It does not mean anyone experiencing pain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year any easier, but they may become used to it. Since my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis 20 plus years ago, my days have been accompanied by pain. At the beginning of my MS journey, my pain was minimal in comparison to what it is now and mainly focuses on my legs. To be honest, the leg pain generated pain significant enough to make standing, let alone walking challenging and agonizing.

There is no denying that the leg pain I endure is a direct result of neuropathic pain due to my MS. Neuropathic pain is typically described as a burning sensation in the affected areas. This type of pain is caused by short-circuiting of nerves carrying signals from the brain to the body due to damage inflicted from MS. Not only does the painful sensation feel like burning, but also like a stabbing, sharp, and pressing sensation. For anyone that deals with this neuropathic pain, it can be acute or chronic, which I will explain further.

Acute Neuropathic Pain may be an initial symptom of MS or part of an MS relapse. This can be described as a rapid onset and is for a short duration. The four different types of Acute Neuropathic pain are:

Trigeminal Neuralgia is typically described as a sharp and or shooting pain in the face or jaw area. This pain may occur as an initial symptom of MS or as part of a relapse. Considering the location of this pain it has been misidentified as dental pain, but this is caused by damage to the trigeminal nerve. Like many other issues associated with MS, this pain is unpredictable and comes and goes as it pleases.

Lhermitte’s Sign is a sudden and momentary sensation like an electric shock traveling from the back of the head, down the spine, and often extending into the arms and legs. This issue is often due to bending the neck forward. The pain indicates there was damage in the cervical spine caused by MS, which could be the first sign of MS or a relapse.

MS Hug most commonly is due to damage to the spine due to MS. I do not like the name of this issue because it is a hug that no one in their right mind wants to have ever! The best way to explain how this feels is a tight squeezing sensation around the torso, almost feeling like the blood pressure cuff on your arm or possibly how it would feel if a snake wrapped itself tightly around the torso.

Paroxysmal Spasms can be described as a sporadic and painful tightening of muscles. This is commonly a brief twitching that comes on suddenly and disappears as quickly as it came on. Frequently, this is felt in the arm or leg and occurs several times throughout the day and or night.

Chronic Neuropathic Pain tends to be the continuance of acute neuropathic pain I previously explained. When MS is involved, the pain can be experienced daily or nearly daily but is often unpredictable. When someone endures acute neuropathic pain, the likelihood it will become chronic is significantly higher. Some specific issues can increase this type of pain, including higher levels of stress, fatigue, illnesses, and becoming overheated.

Unfortunately, pain plays a vital part in many illnesses. Most of these illnesses are lifelong because cures have not been discovered as of now. Pain is not easy to live with, which is why it is so important to continue searching for various ways to keep the pain as under control as possible. I do not plan on allowing the pain I experience to dictate my life but will use the pain to fuel my determination to find pain relief strategies. Throughout my 20 plus years of living with various severities of MS pain, I have learned ways to tolerate the pain better including but not limited to the following. I say not limited to because I am sure there are many other amazing ways to handle pain and if you have any ideas, please share!

Utilize your breathing:

Of course, when the pain becomes high it is common to become increasingly tense. During these times it is crucial to try attempting relaxing techniques in a quiet, comfortable body position, and block out any distractions. You can envision the area below the navel or the area your pain is in and breathe into that area calmly, filling your abdomen with air and slowly exhaling. Imaging a deflating balloon may help with this part.

Decrease stress in life:

Pessimistic emotions such as depression, anxiety, stress, and all other negative emotions can drastically increase our body’s response to pain. Once we learn how to overpower the nagging stresses we may feel, we are likely to feel less pain. I think we have all heard that stress is a silent killer and I do passionately believe this.

To be completely honest, stress has been the most common culprit when my pain becomes more intense. Many techniques can help reduce stress, but everyone is different with what will work best for them. Often soothing and calming music can create a relaxing environment, which may promote feelings of less stress. Truthfully, most types of music will relax me because I enjoy listening to the lyrics and feeling what the songwriter was feeling.

Natural Endorphins Through Exercise:

When we are experiencing constant pain, it is very understandable we do not feel like we can be active. We may think the activity will make the pain we already feel worse, but that is not always the situation. Often when we are challenging ourselves physically, it can be beneficial if it is not too hard, long, or too much exertion. It has been stated that exercise strengthens muscles, which can help to reduce additional pain or further injury. It is advised to discuss exercise regimens with a professional because they will have the most knowledge and be able to describe what the best possible exercises would be for everyone.

Understand that alcohol creates problems:

Pain and alcohol cause problems with sleep. With that being states, drinking less or none may improve the overall quality of life, decrease pain levels, and enhance sleeping quality.

Journal daily activities and pain:

To treat pain effectively, it is important to be able to explain how we are feeling to our specialists. It is easy to forget things during doctor’s appointments because we might feel flustered, which is why it is crucial to document daily pain levels and what activities may have caused them. We will be able to discover what we were doing before the times when pain is highest. It could also be beneficial to document daily meals because some foods can increase pain.

Beneficial to maintain a healthy diet:

There are several reasons a well-balanced diet is of vital importance to one’s overall health. Nourishing our body with this type of diet can assist the digestive process, decrease the risks of heart disease, provide weight control, and boost blood sugar levels. Deciding to follow a low-fat and low-sodium diet the options can include the following: fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked dried beans and peas, whole-grain bread and cereal, low-fat cheese, milk, yogurt, and lean meats. A few examples of lean meats are beef, lamb, veal, pork, chicken, turkey duck, fish, and seafood (fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, clam, etc) I do not eat seafood so I am not 100% sure what somethings are, but you might enjoy seafood and know a lot more than I do about it.

Discover enjoyable distractions:

If we allow ourselves to focus solely on our pain, it will get worse before it gets better and consume our life. Activities that keep the mind busy and thinking about other things besides the pain can be a successful way to decrease pain. Even if this is only for a short time, I think it is worth trying, don’t you? Sudoku puzzles are thought-provoking and fun, or at least I think they are.

Life with a painful chronic illness can be incredibly challenging, but I think together as a community we can help one another through these times. I hope the information I have shared in this post will be helpful for you or someone you know. Please just remember that I am not a medical professional and everything I have written was based on research and personal experience.

While I have been dealing with pain for over 20 years, I have been able to expect it, but I do not enjoy it obviously. Some days are worse than others and on the truly miserable days, I will keep fighting my battle because I am not ready to surrender to it. I guess it is the same with anything, good and bad days come and go, but they do not need to restrain life!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I know it was a little longer than my normal posts, but there was a lot of valuable information to share. I am looking forward to reading your comments and I will respond to all comments as quickly as I can. I hope your week is going well and you are staying as safe as you can. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Flooded with Memories

~June 12, 1999~

Sometimes it seems like time flies by us, while other times it feels as though it is standing still. I can only speak for myself when I say this, but I did not enjoy my high school years and some reasons I will not go into. June 12th makes 22 years since I graduated high school and even though I did not go directly to college, I never looked back. I graduated high school at 17 years old because of where my birthday falls in the school year. The choices that I made when I finished high school probably were not the best, but I was young and could not wait to get as far away from the small town I grew up in as possible.

The funny thing is, I was always a dreamer and had thoughts of what I wanted my life to be like after those miserable four years in high school. Of course, there were many dreams I had that might not have come to fruition, but I have always thought that everything in life happens for a reason even if we do not know what those reasons are right away.

One thing I never dreamed of after I got out of high school was to be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis only two years later. To be honest, I did not know much about this disease all those years ago and only knew one other person that had it, which is my father’s wife. It took me many years to realize that having MS was nothing to be ashamed of and I did not have to hide it from anyone. I do think that this disease has made me a stronger person and of course, I promised my late grandfather that I would never allow it to control me. I also promised that I would never let MS win the fight because I would win the war my body was having within itself.

A dream I had 22 years ago was to be a Broadcast Journalist, which as you know did not happen for me and I do not have any regrets. The reason I do not have regrets about not being in Broadcast Journalism I know I would be able to deal with lies from politicians and would probably get myself in trouble calling them out on their deceitful ways. It does not matter if a politician is a Republican or a Democrat because the truth seems to be a little challenging for all of them to provide. Plus, I also strongly believe that people deserve honesty, especially with issues that impact our lives.

Once I had given up on my Journalism dreams, I thought being a Pediatric Nurse would be an amazing career. Unfortunately, not too long after I decided nursing would be a great option, I had an awful relapse and was worried that it would be a little too challenging to be a nurse if I had mobility struggles. I was a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for a few years on a Pediatric unit and I learned fast that mobility issues would be far less challenging for me than the emotional impact this had on me. There were a few patients I will always remember, but one little girl that even to this day sends chills down my spine. She was a sweet six-old little girl that had been brutally raped by her uncle. Due to the legal issues, her mother was not allowed to be with her in the room, which was for good reason. Part of the job for the nurses and CNAs was to help the little girl with her bath, but she would not allow anyone but me to help her. I would also sit with her and read her the book of her choice. There were a few other children that weighed heavily on my mind and would put me in tears at the end of the day. This emotional struggle caused me to have a lot of stress, which created issues with the MS.

I am an overly emotional and strong-willed person. I am the type that will fight hard for what I believe in and defend anyone unable to defend themselves. I have never and never will allow anyone to change my mind on something I am passionate about, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the issue. I think it is safe to say I would have made one hell of an attorney if I had wanted to be in school that long and have that amount of student loan debt.

Again, as I have already said I do believe strongly that everything in life happens for a reason. We may never know what the reasons are for the things that happen in our life but should try believing there are reasons for everything. The best and most we can all do is be happy in life and be thankful for what life has provided us, no matter what.

It does not matter what I have gone through in life because I know I am who I am from all of it. I have a quiet and happy life with my husband and three cats. Y’all may remember that in early February we lost our cat we had for almost 16 years, which was a painful loss for both me and my husband. There are still times today that I think of Chloe and what could have been done differently. I might be an emotional person, but logically I know nothing could have changed that day she took her last breath on my lap. The only good thing about this was she did not have to suffer, and she was able to pass away peacefully in her home.

First, I want to thank you for visiting my site today. I hope you enjoyed what I wrote today. For some reason, it had taken me several days to think of what I wanted to write about, which might be because I had a lot of ideas on my mind. Plus, it was a long week for me, and I was feeling very fatigued. Second, I hope you are having a great and safe weekend. Our weekends should be spent doing what makes us happy and helps us to relax to recuperate from the week we just had. I am looking forward to reading your comments and I promise to 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

Summer heat & Multiple Sclerosis

It is one of last days of May and the summer heat is already extreme and dominating the south parts of the United States. For those of us living with Multiple Sclerosis, we all know that heat is one of our biggest enemies. Unfortunately, where I live in the United States, we are already fighting with temperatures in the 90’s, so I can only imagine how hot it will be in the dead of summer, but I am dreading it!

There are a lot of people that live with Multiple Sclerosis that experience temporary worsening of symptoms when the weather is exceedingly hot and or humid. Unfortunately, it only takes a quarter to a half-degree increase in the body’s core temperature for someone’s symptoms to worsen. The elevation in temperatures impairs the ability of a demyelinated nerve to conduct electrical impulses. Simple activities such as sunbathing, exercising, or taking a hot bath or shower all can have the same effects. Some have noticed their vision becoming blurred when they get overheated, which is a phenomenon known as Uhthoff’s sign.

Even though the heat can cause symptoms to worsen temporarily, it does not cause additional disease activity. The symptoms that worsen when overheated will improve once you cool down. May years ago, before there was better testing for MS, doctors used the “hot bath test” to diagnose MS. When a doctor suspected a person had MS, they would immerse the individual in a hot tub of water, and the appearance of or worsening of neurologic symptoms confirmed the person had MS.

While temperatures are increasingly warmer, it is crucial for those with MS and experiencing heat sensitivity to do what they can to combat these challenges. The following are the best ways to deal with the heat:

1. During extreme heat and humidity, stay inside in the air conditioning. There are specific times during the day when the heat is more intense, so it may be beneficial to pay close attention to the weather. Normally, the heat is not as bad during the early mornings, but as the day goes on it gets much hotter.

2. Utilize cooling produces, such as cooling vests, wraps, and bandanas. These products can be purchase online and be extremely helpful when you do need to be outside, even for short times. The following are a few vendors that offer these products:

https://glaciertek.com/ phone number is 800-482-0533 Try the PROMO CODE ‘NMSS-15’ for a 15% discount.

https://www.mistymate.com/. Try PROMO CODE ‘SS10’ for a 10% discount

https://onyxcool.com/. The phone number is 651-212-6600. Try PROMO CODE ‘NMSSCool25’ for a 25% discount

https://opalcool.com/. Try PROMO CODE ‘NMSSCool25’ for a 25% discount

https://polar-products.com/. The phone number is 800-597-0618. Try PROMO CODE ‘NMSS18’ for a 15% discount + a free Polar Cool Tie with every order.

https://steelevest.com/. The phone number is 888-783-3538. Try PROMO CODE ‘NMSS2021’ for a 10% discount (min. $20 order)

https://www.thermapparel.com/health. The phone number is 855-232-7233. Try PROMO CODE ‘Undercool’ for a 10% discount

You may also be able to contact the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for assistance as well.  https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Resources-Support/Find-Support/Ask-an-MS-Navigator. Or you can call them at 1-800-344-4867.

3. Wearing lightweight, loose, and breathable clothing.

4. Stay hydrated. Drinking cold beverages and eating popsicles can help to keep you cool. Many great products that help to keep beverages cold and buying two of these items can be greatly beneficial because while one is in the freezer, you can be drinking out of the other. I bought two of these items on Amazon so I could keep one in the freeze and drink out of the one that is cold, but there are many others. This is the link for the ones that I have https://www.amazon.com/Swell-10017-B19-36640-Stainless-Bottle-degrade/dp/B07WQFMPF7/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=S%27well+Stainless+Steel+Water+Bottle+-+17+Fl+Oz+-&qid=1622390586&s=home-garden&sr=1-

5. If you exercise, do so either in a cool pool or in a cooler environment.

It has been a little while, but the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is where I was able to get mine from and they are helpful. If all else fails, you can always google these products and I am sure you will find something that will work for you. As you already know, everyone is different and has different challenges with MS, but if you are anything like I am the weather poses awful issues. It does not matter if it is hot or cold temperatures, they both cause me to experience issues. The cold causes me to tense up, which makes my pain much worse. The heat causes me to feel even more fatigue and does affect my vision.

I hope this information will help you while dealing with the extreme heat. I know a few of you might be in a country that is not dealing with the summer months right now, but for those of you that are do everything you can to stay inside or at least in the air conditioning. If I must leave the house now, I try doing so at night after the sun has gone down or in the morning before it gets too hot. Of course, for some doctor’s appointments, I cannot do anything about the times, but I do stay hydrated. I love Fiji water because I think it tastes much better than any other water. I also like Grape or Kiwi Strawberry Propel waters. I honestly cannot remember the last time I drank a caffeinated beverage and feel much better without them! If I drink any soda during the day, it is at night with dinner but only one.

Thank you for visiting my site today. I do look forward to reading any comments or additional advice you might have. I will respond to all comments as quickly as I can. I hope you are having a nice three-day weekend and hope you are staying safe. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Been Out Of Sorts

I have been trying for several days to write a post, but I have not been able to. I have a few reasons why things have been so challenging, and I will try to explain. One issue is I have not been sleeping well due to awful tooth pain. I know my fear of the dentist is very irrational, but I have never been able to shake this fear in all my years. After several mornings waking up at 3:00 AM in excruciating pain and it takes me a while to fall back to sleep, I finally scheduled an appointment with a dentist. My husband and I are still relatively new to where we are living and I did not know any dentists, heck, I hardly knew of any doctors besides my neurologist, but I reached out to an extremely sweet couple that has lived in the city for years for a recommendation. This couple is kind, trustworthy, and I feel confident they would steer me in the right direction, the only problem is the dentist did not have any openings until April 19th, but I have dealt with it this long, what is a few more weeks?

The other issue I have been experiencing is my legs and feet are feeling the annoying tingling, pins, and needles sensation, and a great deal of spasticity. This seems to be getting increasing worst at night, which makes it hard to get comfortable and fall asleep. Even though it is known to those with MS that heat causes issues, previously a heating pad on my legs would help calm the problems down. Unfortunately, a heating pad or a warm bath is not helping at all and I am just having to be patient with my legs and feet, which I am not good at being patient at all!

As y’all know from things I have said in previous posts fatigue is a huge issue with people with Multiple Sclerosis, so not getting anywhere near enough sleep due to my tooth pain and twitchy legs is only producing more fatigue. I do not know about you, but when I get too overtired, I become very irritated with everything. It does not matter how small the issue is, it will make me want to scream and or cry. You can only imagine how I would feel if something huge happened.

I like to think that I am a patient and tolerant person, and always try being understanding because I do know everyone is going through something in their life. It takes a lot to push me to my breaking point, which is not always a good thing because that involves a lot of pent of frustrations. While it can be a good quality to be able to let go of things that are not crucial, the built-up of frustration can be like if a volcano, collided with a tornado, and an earthquake happened simultaneously. This is just me and I might be abnormal because I hold onto things for extended periods of time before anyone would ever know something was bothering me and I know this is something that needs to be worked on and improved.

I am not making any promises because I do not like breaking a promise, but I am going to try finishing the posts I had mentioned before. I know March and Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month are over, but there are still a few things I want to mention. March being over does not mean that those of us living with Multiple Sclerosis get a break because unfortunately, we still have the same battle to fight.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to visit my site today. I still have so much that I would like to write about, and I am doing the best I can. I hope your week is going well and you are continuing to stay safe. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Beat The Heat

As y’all already know March was Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month. Even though March is almost over, MS for me and everyone else living with this illness will continue to battle with the challenges that come along with it. With that being said, I do want to share a few additional posts to further explain the struggles that Multiple Sclerosis creates.

One thing common with those with Multiple Sclerosis is heat intolerance. Simply taking a hot shower, spending too much time in the sun, or possibly making a hot meal because the stove and oven can make the kitchen extremely hot. The reason people with MS are sensitive to heat and temperature changes is that MS causes nerves to lose their conductive coating, which is referred to as a myelin-sheath.

Heat issues may cause a person with MS to have an escalation of symptoms such as dizziness and/or increased heart rate. I am going to share 6 tips that may help you to defeat the brutality of the heat enemy. Some of these tips might seem like common sense, but they are important to mention, or at least I think it is.

Stay Inside:

Logically, this makes perfect sense, but the warm summer months are closing in on us relatively fast and this needs to be very well understood. Staying inside with the air conditioner or at least fans may contain MS symptoms. Be sure to pay close attention to the forecast and avoid outdoor get-togethers when it is too hot. It will be much better for you and your health to stay inside when the temperatures and humidity increase because you do not want the symptoms to get too awful.

Utilize Cooling Products:

There are numerous cooling products available online and in stores. The MS Society has cooling vests, wrist, ankle, neck, and head cooling packs. These are fantastic cooling packs that can help you to tolerate the heat and even make picnics possible. Something as simple as a cloth dipped in cold water and applied to your head can make a remarkable difference in the way you feel.

Ice Cold Beverages:

On those insanely hot summer days, there is nothing better than ice-cold water with or without lemon. It is amazing what powers and benefits can be had with liquids. Aside from an ice-cold beverage, you may also experience relief from popsicles, ice cream, or frozen yogurt. To save time walking to the kitchen at night and searching for something cold to drink, try freezing a bottle of water and place it beside your bed. This will provide you the much needed cool down without leaving the comfort of your bed.

Cool Down in the Pool:

As the temperatures start increasing, spending time in a pool when possible can give you the cooldown needed. Not only will a pool help you cool down but provide you with some exercises that can be done easily and without high impact on your body that might cause you extra pain. For additional cooling powers, keeping your wet swimsuit on after leaving the pool can be wonderful because it will also keep you nice and cool!

Plug in a fan or fans:

The fan you use does not need to be high-tech or fancy to offer you cooling benefits. A simple oscillating fan that is easy to move to other rooms can provide you great and fast relief from the evil heat. A ceiling fan helps to circulate air, which can give useful relief from the heat as well.

Lighten Up Clothing:

It can be astounding how our choices of clothing can make a considerable difference. Thinking in layers of clothing when we get dressed might serve you as a benefit. Dressing in lightweight and easy to remove clothes allows you to remove layers, as necessary.

I hope the information provided in this post was helpful for you. In the southern state that I live in, I can speak from experience on how awful the heat makes me feel. It typically starts getting a little too hot for me in April and previously when I did leave the house, I would be overheated just walking to my car. A few years ago, I did reach out to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and they sent me a few cooling products that are phenomenal, and I am thankful to have them. Of course, over the past year, I hardly leave the house, but hopefully, things will become safe again soon.

Thank you for visiting my site today. I know I have been a little off with my typical posts, but life and fatigue sometimes get in the way. I would love the opportunity to read what you thought about this information and will do my best 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

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