Living with M.S.

"Living with M.S. is sort of like training for a long race. The harder you try, and the longer you keep at it, the stronger you become.
Eventually, looking back, you may be amazed at the power you possessed, even when you had no idea it was within your reach." (Linda Ann Nickerson)


Multiple Sclerosis: 3 most troubling MS cognitive symptoms

Firsthand experience counts for plenty, when it comes to identifying cognitive symptoms of MS.

Cogitation requires deliberation, particularly for those who live with multiple sclerosis. What does that mean? Thinking can be a stretch, when the MS MonSter rears its angry head. Maybe the difficulties are momentary, but sometimes they can last long enough to become frustrating and particularly troublesome.

When that happens, MSers battle cognitive symptoms of the chronic medical condition.

The cognitive symptoms of MS stretch definitions – even for doctors, medical researchers and scientists. This potentially disabling neurological disease may take very different forms in various patients, and its timetable may seem random at best.

Perhaps those who live with multiple sclerosis around the clock are able to describe the cognitive symptoms of the neurological disorder most accurately.

What are the most common cognitive symptoms of MS?

Multiple sclerosis may cause an assortment of cognitive (or mental) symptoms, which may vary widely among individuals. In fact, the cognitive symptoms of MS may even change for any given patient with each recurrence, exacerbation or incidence of the disease.

Even so, several MS cognitive symptoms seem to be common complaints.

What are the most troubling cognitive symptoms of multiple sclerosis?

Instead of forming a discussion of MS cognitive symptoms from personal experience or research alone, I decided to interview several others who live out the courageous fight personally against the dreaded neurological disease.

Let’s hear from specific individuals, who live with MS daily. For easy reference, these first-hand comments about MS cognitive symptoms are arranged alphabetically (by symptom).

Cognitive Symptoms of MS:

Cognitive symptoms of MS may include concentration problems, memory issues, speech difficulties and more.

Many MS patients do not like to talk about the cognitive symptoms that may arise. However, Kerri B., Paul B., Dale E., Brian G., Ashley M., Catherine M., Kelly O., Lori P., Ryan R., Ally S., Dori S. and others admitted that their concentration, memory and even speech have been affected by the neurological condition.

1. Concentration Problems

MS sufferers usually describe their concentration challenges as distractibility or even issues of focus.

“My mind gets foggy,” said Jennifer S. “The cognitive issues can drive me nuts.”

“Focusing can be an issue,” Ryan R. explained. “It can get sort of confusing sometimes, even right in the middle of a task.”

“MS can feel like a juggling act, especially with too many stimuli,” recounted Dori S. “Loud noises, flashing lights, and other distractions can make it really tough.”

2. Memory Loss

Forgetfulness is a nearly universal complaint among those with MS. Often, this points to short-term memory issues, as Elizabeth C., Marie F., Andrew G., Ryan R., Paul T., Anne W., Nicky W. and others confirm.

“The most annoying symptoms of MS are cognitive,” explained Ashley M. “Sadly, I can tolerate the vertigo, fatigue, balance and numbness issues. But the memory problems, such as forgetting words, really leave me feeling rather frustrated and helpless.”

Sometimes memory loss can come and go with MS, as Debbie R. pointed out. “I understand about forgetting people’s names,” she said. “That drives me crazy! Of course, it is hilarious to me to notice how quickly I remember them later, after I am home and not in the middle of an awkward conversation.”

“I have two degrees,” confessed Bridget G., “and I barely remember any of it anymore.”

“It’s weird,” said Dori S. “Someone can give me a one number, and only the first two or three numbers stick.”

Wendy T. agreed. “I can’t remember things that need to be done. This means making lots of lists.”

“I can do something one day and not remember how to do it the next,” said Ally S. “This makes me look incompetent, and I hate it.”

3. Speech Difficulties

A surprising number of those with MS point out how they often find themselves misusing words, or unexpectedly substituting the wrong words in their speech.

Deborah G. described difficulties with slurred speech. Terri E. spoke of “losing the words I want to say in the middle of a sentence.”

“I have to stop midsentence,” said Brian H., “when I struggle with word recall from MS.”

“Sometimes I know what I want to say,” explains Richard R., “but I lose the word right as I am about to say it. We call these instances brain farts.”

Lynda K. agreed. “My kids chuckle a bit,” she said, “when I use the wrong words. I might say, ‘Pass the monkey,” instead of “Pass the milk.’ It’s just a slip or a blip.”

Of course, as medical researchers gain increased knowledge about the causes and potential cures for MS, then the thoughts and minds of those who face the MonSter daily may take a more determined positive turn as well. Many already try to put a positive spin on life – even life with MS.

Additional MS Symptoms

In addition to cognitive symptoms, MS can also cause physical symptoms (including balance issues, bladder and bowel problems, burning sensations, chest pain, coordination loss, fatigue, foot drop, headaches, heat sensitivity, muscle weakness, nerve pain, numbness, sexual dysfunction, sleep problems, spasticity, tremors, vertigo, vision problems, walking difficulties and more ) and emotional symptoms (such as depression, fear, anxiety, frustration, feelings of helplessness, a sense of isolation, mood swings, self image issues, stress and more).

Multiple Sclerosis: 3 most troubling MS cognitive symptoms
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