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

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

Inspirational Wednesday

~We Are Halfway Through The Week~

Happy Wednesday y’all! I hope you are all having a great week! The world has all been living in the midst of a crisis with COVID-19. I do know it isn’t easy to deal with the stress of this, especially with the vaccine being difficult to get. The good news is, we today, in the United States, we are saying “goodbye” to a failed administration and will be welcoming a new administration. I know there are some that are not very welcoming to the new administration, but it is a possible a fresh set of eyes will find a better way to handle this awful situation.

Now that we have made it halfway through this week, we are so much closer to the weekend we all look forward to! During these trying times, it is extremely important to hold on tight to hope, because without hope, we do not have anything to keep us feeling optimistic. I think hope offers a sense of comfort and peace. My wish for y’all is, the quote that I am sharing will offer you the desire to push through the next couple of days to make it to a restful and peaceful weekend! It seems there is a lot of anger and hate in the world today, so to try discovering the light in the mix can be beneficial. If we are all able to see a little light through all the darkness, we might be able to light up the world we are in together. What do you think about this quote I have shared?

Yesterday, while I was at work, one of my co-workers called me to tell me her COVID test came back positive. This lady was very upset, which I cannot blame her. She told me that not only does she have diabetes and obesity, but she has a few other health issues. I tried comforting her, by telling her as long as she did not have any breathing troubles, she just needed to let her primary care physician know just in case he wanted to see her or offer any other suggestions. We work from home, so if she is feeling okay and did not have to miss work , I do not think she would have to notify the HR department, but I did suggest she let our team lead know and go from there. As far as I know, she ended up clocking out so she could get a better and calmer handle on things. Hearing the fear in her voice broke my heart. I will check up on her later today and hope she is feeling well and resting!

Thank you for visiting my site today! I hope you have a great day and, as always, please continue to stay as safe as you can. I hope you never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

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Saying Goodbye to 2020

Let’s End 2020 & Begin 2021 With Positivity!

It really does seem as if 2020 started off going in the wrong direction, but never managed to change course for the better. To put it mildly, there has been an insane number of life-altering situations that have taken place during 2020 and none that I would want to relive or even wish on my worst enemy. This also goes far deeper than anything affecting me personally because what has gone wrong during this year has tragically impacted millions of people worldwide.

I do not think I had ever looked forward to saying “Goodbye” to any year previously in my life, but I am glad 2020 is now in our rearview mirror. There were so many tragedies that took place and many of which should never have happened in the first place. Everyone faces challenging times during their life, but I think we have all seen far too many during 2020. I would love to be able to say that everyone learns something with each challenge faced, but I think for some people it takes a little more than it does others.

At the end of 2019, I thought that 2020 was going to be a wonderful year. In a strange way, I thought this because 2020 was an even number everything was going to be blissful and full of great times. I have never been more wrong, but I can admit that I was. I know there have been years that were a lot worse, but not during my lifetime. It was probably back during our grandparent’s time when times were a lot more tragic and the past year, we endured would be easy for them to tolerate because the things they saw were something we could not ever handle. I do not think our brains are wired to handle what our grandparents saw.

What were a few things that occurred during 2020 that you wished never happened? What were a few things that happened during 2020 that you were thankful for and learned from? Of course, there are always going to be issues/situations in life we would love to wish away, but unfortunately, this is not always possible. It is crucial we learn from everything we go through and help others to do the same.

Thinking about the past year in a negative manner probably is not healthy and even though it is not easy we do need to try our best to see a light. Yes, there have been almost 350,000 deaths due to COVID in the United States and 1.83 million worldwide. These numbers are astonishing and very terrible. In my opinion, you would think these numbers would force everyone to do what is necessary, and yet there are so many that refuse to. Wearing a mask and social distancing is NOT taking away the freedom that some Americans’ are complaining about, it is for the safety of human lives. Until everyone does what they can to stop the spread, the new cases and deaths are only going to continue to rise.

I am not going to lie to y’all, I hardly ever leave my house these days. Also, I cannot tell you that I do not follow the number of new cases in the city I live in. There have been way too many times the numbers have brought me to tears and watching the people on the news that lost loved ones to COVID always makes me cry. I cannot imagine losing someone that I care about because of this virus because all it takes is following the advice from experts. Y’all know I think that politicians lie and so do your typical everyday people, but numbers and science do not lie. We have all heard since the virus appeared, wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, stay home, and all the other excellent advice is NOT hard to do!

Another sad part about 2020 is people have shown their true colors and they are NOT pretty. So many people showed that not only are they ignorant to the facts, but they are selfish only caring about what they want and do exactly what they want to despite what is going on in the world. It seems like so many people will not understand how deadly COVID is until they lose someone they care about and this is NOT the way any of us should be behaving. During these devastating times, we MUST join together for the good of human lives. It does not matter what political party you follow, right now it ONLY matters that we do what we can to keep others alive and end the spread of this deadly virus!

I know I am only one person and I cannot do anything alone to do this, so I am asking each of you to do the same! Even if we only save one other person’s life, that is one more family that will not bear the grief of losing someone they care about and then not even be able to have a proper burial because of the virus that took that person.

There might be certain things I have said in this post you agree with and even some things that you will disagree with, but I would love to read what you think. I respect you and what you think, so it is perfectly fine if you disagree with some or all that is in this post. I promise that I will respond to all comments as quickly as I can!

Thank you so very much for visiting my site today. I hope you are enjoying your weekend and 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

September Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month

Spread Love & Not Hate

I have said it before, but I will say it again, life is anything but easy. Currently, we are under trying times and it has been painfully difficult for many months now. NO, COVID-19 has not gone away or anywhere close to it as the president claimed it would. With times being extremely difficult for every single person around the world, I think it is very important to bring some attention to something heartbreaking for many people. September is “Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month”

Suicide is not something that is discussed often because many people do not what they can or should say. Unfortunately, this is something that will impact families and friends long after the tragic loss of their loved ones. Those that are left behind will have to go through the rest of their lives wondering what they could have done differently, but the answers will vary between each person.

I am going to be sharing some very chilling, melancholy, and distressing information regarding this very delicate topic. Over 44,000 Americans each year take their own lives by committing suicide. With that being said, on average on person commits suicide every 16.2 minutes. Due to the global pandemic of COVID-19, there has already been a serious escalation in the number of suicides.

Sadly to say, suicide is the 4th leading cause of death in people between the ages of 18 and 65. Another incredibly sad and heart-wrenching statistic is for every death by suicide, there are approximately 25 suicide attempts. Men are four times more at risk than women to commit suicide and their most common way to do so is by use of firearms. The suicide rate for men is highest in those that are 75 and older. Men that are battling with substance usage are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide.

Unfortunately, more teens die by suicide than cancer, the flu, and AIDS combined. It is the 2nd leading cause of death in people between the age of 10 and 34. It is thought that 80% of teens who die by suicide showed some warning signs before taking their life, but some can keep their thoughts, pain, and plans hidden very well. That being said, 90% of teens who die by suicide have some type of mental health issue or issues.

While it is 2020 and we should be more evolved and accepting by now, but regrettably many are still not. LGBTQIA youth have four times greater of a chance to attempting suicide than other young people. Also, LGBTQIA individuals with unaccepting families are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than those that have more accepting, evolved, and understanding families.

It may not be easy or even always clear, but some warning signs could be alarming, urgent, and possibly a cry for help. The signs include, but are not limited to:

1.Talking about wanting to die

2 Searching or looking for a way to kill one’s self

3.Talking about not having any reason to live

4.Giving away valuable/prized possessions

5.Acting or displaying new anxiousness or agitation

6.Talking about being in unbearable pain

7.Sleeping too little or too much

8.Withdrawing or becoming isolated

9.Increased use of alcohol and or drugs

10.Showing rage and or seeking revenge

11.Displaying extreme mood swings

12.Talking about being a burden to others

13.Exhibiting new daring or risk-taking behaviors

14.Showing a lack of interest for any plans for the future

Helping someone with suicidal thoughts can be challenging and painful, but it may be possible that you could save their life. Several things have been suggested by professionals, which include the following:

Ask: It is completely natural to feel fear when doing this, but do not ever hesitate to come out and ASK the person if they think about dying or killing themselves. By simply asking them, know you are not putting the thoughts in their mind and it will not make them any more likely to attempt suicide.

Listen: Try starting a conversation with the person and just be an ear to LISTEN without passing any judgments. You need to only show that you care and are there for them. Produce a safe space for them to share their feelings and vent freely. One thing that will be important, do not swear to secrecy because, with this type of situation, you might not be able to.

Stay: Once you have started a conversation with the person and they have opened up to you, do not leave that person alone. Make sure you STAY with them or at least make sure they are in a private and secure space with another trustworthy and caring person until you can get further assistance and guidance.

Secure: If you have reason to believe or suspect the person may harm themselves, take them seriously. Be sure you REMOVE any, and all objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 and follow their guidance!

***CALL 911 if self-harm seems like an immediate need***

Many years ago, I worked at a children’s hospital. During my years at the children’s hospital, I worked with numerous children that attempted suicide. I would take the time to talk with the child and give them a chance to talk openly about what was causing them the troubles. Of course, I was not a nurse, therapist, or physician and was only a nursing assistant who could show compassion to a troubled teenager. Normally, I was the person that would ride with the child from the hospital to the mental health facility because it was required by law and I wanted to be there for the child. It was difficult listening to the child’s painful stories, but I was able to offer them some friendly and nonjudgmental advice. Some of these children were abused by a relative, others had a recent break-up, and others were troubled by bullies. Often times, children do not feel like they can open up to their parents and have no one they can trust to talk to, which is extremely sad. Children have a hopefully long and great life ahead of them and need role models and people they can trust. These young people are the future and should be encouraged instead of degraded and harmed.

I had a friend in high school that had a tragic and difficult life. She was able to open up to me about some of it and I had firsthand experience with much of what she said. This friend did have her first child our last year in high school, but she remained strong during this. Many years later after her husband and father of her children was murdered, one of her children committed suicide. I know this haunts her to this day and that breaks my heart. I wish I had been able to be there for her during these times, but I was already living 900 miles away and was only able to offer her support through messages and phone calls.

Typically, my posts are a lot more positive and uplifting than this one, but all the information in this post is crucial and needed to be shared. I am so sorry if this is something any of you have experienced and hope your heart is healing from the sadness and that you will be able to help another that goes through something as awful as losing a loved on to suicide. Times around the world are the hardest they have been in decades so now is a time to pay close attention to people that we care about. I believe we all need to stand together and support one another during these troubling times because it is the only way we will make it through with any sanity we have left.

Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope you are doing well, your weekend has been going well and you are staying safe. Y’all already know that I am a very sensitive person, so you will not be surprised that this subject hurts my heart. This is a time we need to support others and spread love and not hate! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and many positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa