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

Motivational Monday

Happy Monday y’all! I hope you had a great and relaxing weekend! I guess whether we are ready or not, it is time to begin another new week. I cannot believe the June is almost over and we are half way through the year. Do you think that 2021 has been better than 2020? I do think in some ways 2021 has been a little better than 2020, but there are many things that can and should be better.

As we start the last week of June and the beginning of a new week, I think motivation is something we could all benefit from. Of course, life can be challenging and even painful but we can all handle whatever life throws our way because we are strong. I hope you will find the quote I am sharing motivating and it helps your week start with the best mindset! I feel that the world is still overwhelming full of negative attitudes and that is no way to live our life. I believe strongly in the quote I have shared because we can all use the negativity the is raining down on us to create better times and become even better than we were before!

I will be the first to admit that Monday mornings can be difficult, but if we do our best to think positive I think good things can happen. I have always believed that it take a lot more energy to be negative and it can be easier to just think happy thoughts. I know not everyone will agree with me on this and there is nothing wrong with thinking different. I do think everyone being different keeps the world a lot more interesting and even exciting. I think if everyone thought the same it would be a very boring world.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my site today. I hope I was able to help you start your week positively and with the best of thoughts. I do always look forward to reading your comments and do my best to respond to all comments as quickly as I can. I am starting a new position with my company today and after work I have to take one of our kittens back to the doctor. I am hoping we will find a logical reason for her awful breath and that will help her and our little boy feel better. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Life is complicated

There have been many challenges we have faced during the past few years. All of this takes a lot of courage, perseverance, dedication, determination, and a great amount of internal strength. I completely understand how this can feel overwhelming and we might want to throw our hands up and give up on what we need and want. Sometimes it might feel like the battle within is too demanding, but if we do everything we possibly can and continue fighting we will eventually win the war.

For all of us that are living with a chronic and incurable illness, the obstacles may seem like they are endless and maybe they are. However, if we do not keep pushing through with all we can, we will never know what we are capable of. I have always believed that behind every door we close, something better is waiting around the next corner. We will not be able to know our full potential if we do not at least try.

All the small or large issues we deal with in life provide us with an opportunity and a learning experience. It might never seem like it at the time, but surviving these issues makes us the strong people we are today. It is crucial to view the struggles we face in life as a building block to the incredibly strong people we were meant to be instead of as an inconvenience.

If you take a few minutes to think about your life, would you be who you are today if it were not for what you have been through? Honestly, I do not know who I would be if I did not have the experiences I did have. Of course, not all our experiences have been pleasant and sometimes we do not want to remember them because they may have been awful. The hardest things we have gone through gave us the most valuable lessons.

You do not have to answer this question but at least think about these questions. What were a few of the most hellacious, painful, and complicated things you have gone through in life, and what did you learn from those experiences? I am not going to go into detail about one of my experiences that was like this, but I will tell you this ordeal taught me to be strong and to never allow anyone to mistreat me. For the most part, we can decide who we allow in our life.

It is extremely important to understand that trust is something that is earned and not given immediately. It is not easy, but we should try to at least give others the benefit of the doubt, but without putting too much trust into that person. The hard part about this is, we are all human and sometimes people will do something to betray our trust. Once trust is lost, it is not easy to get back because it takes a lot of work and healing from whatever hurt the betrayal caused. There is not a timeline to when we “should” heal from times when another’s deception because we are all different and heal in various ways.

It is a little ironic that I started a post about headaches and have been dealing with one ever since. I am hoping for the headache I have had for several days will get better soon, so I can finish the post to share with y’all. I think the information that I have so far will be beneficial to anyone that experiences headaches more than just occasionally. Considering I have been dealing with headaches most of my life, I would have thought I would be used to them by now, but unfortunately, I am not. Even though I deal with pain 24/7 the pain does not stop me from doing what I want in life, but a headache will stop me completely. I guess no one has or could get used to them though.

Thank you for visiting my site today. I am sorry that I have been a little absent lately, but hopefully that will change soon, and this headache will go away. I am looking forward to reading your comments, which I will respond to as quickly as I possibly can. Even though I know the COVID cases as decreased greatly, I hope you are all continuing to stay as safe as you can. Please remember that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Tranquil Tuesday

Happy Tuesday y’all! Even though we have four days left in the week, we have made it through one day already! How is your week going so far? I do hope you are having a great week. My week is going much better than last week did or at least the beginning of the week is and I hope it continues on this track. I did have a dentist appointment yesterday, but it was only to have the permanent crowns put on and it was not really bad. The only part of this appointment that was rather annoying was how long I had to wait because they seem to have hard time scheduling appointments the right way, but at least it did not hurt me.

I am trying to get back to my normal blogging routine and will hopefully be able to continue the way my routine was before I got a little too sidetracked with life and challenges. I am hoping the quote I am sharing for “Tranquil Tuesday” provides you with the much-needed peace we all need considering there is a lot of problems in the world. I find it sad that we cannot all just get along and accept others for who they are instead of what they are if that makes any sense. I like to believe that I am a fair person and treat everyone equally and with respect, so I do not understand people that judge others based on things that do not matter.

I hope you are doing well and you are staying as stress-free as you possibly can. I am fully aware of how difficult it can be to not become stressed when life becomes overly challenging, but we all need to remember that we are all perfectly imperfect humans. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not being perfect or being what some would call normal. No one is perfect despite what some might think and there is nothing wrong with not being what some call normal because what is normal? I would much rather be different than most people because I do not like being like everyone else. In my opinion, I would rather be completely and perfectly imperfect!

Thank you for taking the time to visit my site today. I know we are all busy with work, life, family, and so much else, so I want you to know how much I appreciate your time today. I hope you enjoyed what I have shared in this post and look forward to reading your amazing comments, which I promise to respond to 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

Motivational Monday

Happy Monday y’all! I hope you had an amazing and safe weekend, and you are ready to begin the new week with a positive mindset! Of course, I did not do much over the weekend, but that is just the normal weekend for me and I do not mind it at all. After the crummy week, I had last week, doing nothing over the weekend was best. I think sometimes we just need time to reset and clear our minds from anything negative, which is exactly what I needed more than anything.

Now that we are at the beginning of a new week, I think we could all benefit from a little motivation to kick start the week off right. I hope the quote I am sharing with y’all today will provide you with enough positive and motivating energy to help this week be a good one for you. I would love the chance to know if this quote helped your week begin the right way but also hope that each day will make the week better until it is finally Friday again. I will be the first to say that it is not always easy to be happy, especially when things happen in our lives that are anything but happy. However, I do think if we have enough hope for better things in life to happen in time, a positive attitude can help remarkable things come to light! I do not think anyone has ever said life was going to be easy, but all we can do is continue to try! Never giving up takes strength, but we are all full of the necessary strength and determination!

No matter how this week starts for you, I hope you have a wonderful week! I know it can be easy to get discouraged when numerous things go wrong, but just try to keep moving forward and keep your chin up! I had mentioned to the Shipt delivery lady last week how awful my week had been. Unfortunately, on her way to the house she was hit head on by another driver and still managed to get the groceries I ordered to my house. I told her I would be happy to come pick her up, but she made arrangements with a friend of her to borrower her car because she wanted to get what was ordered to me. Thankfully, she was not injured at all, but maybe a little shaken up. Turns out, even though I thought my week had been terrible, her day was so much worse. She is an unusually remarkable person and dedicated to her customers.

Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope you enjoyed everything I wrote and l look forward to reading your comments, which I promise to respond to as quickly as I can. I hope you never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

My Weekend…..

I hope y’all are having a good weekend and you are staying safe. I know we all look forward to the weekend because it gives us time to rest and recuperate from a long week. How is your weekend going so far? Did you have a good week? I do hope last week went well for you and your weekend is everything you want it to be. Last week was a mixture of stress and more stress for me, but at least that is in the past now!

My day on Thursday was a little stressful because it started at a consult with the endodontist that will be doing my root canal next week. I did not like this doctor right away because he was a little rude and extremely offensive. His assistant was sweet and told me that doctor was a straight shooter, but there is a fine line between being honest and rude. I told him right away that I knew my mouth was a mess because of all the medications I have been on due to my MS, mainly steroids when I had a relapse, and I was only concerned with the two teeth that were in pain. Instead of addressing my reason for being there, he went onto telling me I needed a good dentist that was not going to be terrified when they looked in my mouth. For someone that has HIGH anxiety with the dentist, this was not a good start.

My weekend did not start in the best way because our older cat, Sundance was not acting right on Saturday morning. I think it is safe to say that y’all know how much I love my cats and that I would do anything in the world for any of them, so seeing him being lethargic was extremely. Every morning Sundance gets two medications for his asthma and he takes them in a pill pocket, which he never has a problem with because he thinks they are treats. He would not eat the pill pockets and would not even purr like he always does. While in complete panic, I called his doctor’s office. The veterinarian called me back about 15 minutes later and said there was a cancellation and to bring him in. Typically, Sundance fights me when I try getting him in the carrier, but he did not fight me at all. His doctor’s office is only 1-2 miles from our house, so it does not take but a few minutes to get there, but he cries the entire way. Today, he did not make a peep, but I made it in record time because I might have been speeding.

With COVID, owners are not able to go into the office. So, I texted the number when we got there and waited. The vet tech, Sarah, is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and she was there last week when Sundance had to go for his yearly check-up. She came out and with her kind and understanding personality said to him, “Sundance, you were just here baby, what is going on?” Through my tears and hysteria, I filled her in on what was going on. She told me they would take good care of him and that I did the right thing to bring him in. She told me that she understands worrying about my baby because she is the same way and that she has an older cat that is going through chemo. I cannot even imagine how stressful that must be, but I appreciated her kindness and empathy.

After waiting about 15 minutes, but it felt more like an hour, Sarah came back out to explain what was going on with Sundance. She said his heart and lungs sounded great, but he had an exceedingly high temperature of 104.9. Sundance has a UTI, which could have been caused either by the stress of the two new kittens or the car ride last week to get to the doctor’s office. As I said, he hates being in the car and hates going to the doctor and he is a baby about things, especially when I cannot be with him. They gave him an antibiotic by injection, so I would not have to give him more pills. The antibiotic will work for 2 weeks and he should start feeling better soon. They also gave him pain medication, just to keep him comfortable. The vet tech and doctor said he will be sluggish from the pain medication, especially because this is the first time, he has had one.

My poor baby feels yucky

Once I got Sundance home, he just laid around and looked very confused. He still would not eat or drink, but just wanted to sleep and rest. The new kittens, Willow and Penelope tried getting close to him because they seemed concerned, which was sweet to see. I have tried leaving him alone because I did not want to upset him, but I did put his water dish close to him so he could drink when he wanted to.

I have always taken great care of our cats and it was torture seeing him not feel well. I hated not being able to help him feel better. I have never felt so helpless because there is nothing, I can do to speed up Sundance’s healing. I am glad we never had two leg children because I think I would be in the ER every other day. Of course, Sundance is not able to tell me how he is feeling, but I can tell from the look out of his eyes that he does not feel well.

Thank you for visiting my site today and reading what I have written. Please keep Sundance in your thoughts and hope he feels better soon. I will keep an eye on him throughout the night and hope he is back to his normal self in the morning. Sundance has a huge personality and even though he is 10 years old, he still plays like a kitten. I think because of what we went through with Chloe in early February, I am overly cautious and on top of things. I have always been the type that worries, but our cats are like our children, so I worry even more. I will keep y’all updated on Sundance’s healing from his UTI and pray he gets better soon!

I hope the rest of your weekend goes well and you stay safe! I would love to know what you thought about this post and I will respond as quickly as I can. Considering I have been a ball of stress because of Sundance, the only way I can stay calm is to write about it. We all need an outlet in life, and this is mine! 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