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)


Ain't nothin' pseudo about a pseudo-exacerbation

Medical professionals like to toss about impressive vocabulary words, discussing diseases almost as if they were teaching graduate students to identify physiological conditions. It’s no different with multiple sclerosis.

“Pseudo-exacerbation” is a prime example of this. This term, commonly used by MS specialists, is actually a misnomer. Neurologists may disagree with that statement. But, as a veteran MSer, I have to argue this way. (Ask any MS warrior.)

Let’s take a moment and consider what this means.

The word “pseudo-exacerbation” actually means “false exacerbation.”

Sorry, Doc. That ain’t so.

What is an exacerbation?

Call it a flare-up or a relapse, if you prefer. By any description, it’s a hellish season the MS warrior endures. Old symptoms reappear. New symptoms crop up. And, with or without steroid treatments (which create their own nightmares), no one ever seems to know how long this ordeal will last (or if it will end at all).

What about pseudo-exacerbations?

These shorter-lasting flare-ups tend to be caused by triggers to which those with MS are particularly sensitive. Extreme fatigue, fever, hot weather, illness, infection, stress, and even certain foods may bring up MS symptoms for a while.

Under such conditions, the MSer may experience dizziness, fatigue, numbness, tremors, vertigo, vision problems, or a host of other neurological troubles. Once those triggers cease or are eliminated, the symptoms tend to back off for a bit.

Hey, experts often can’t even determine for sure whether an MSer is experiencing a pseudo-exacerbation or an all-out MS flare-up. At least, they cannot tell until the affliction abates. Then, if it seemed particularly brief, they tag it as a pseudo-exacerbation.

But it’s never pseudo at all. It is most definitely real and authentic and genuine to the MSer who actually endures it.

Maybe it’s time for a new term for these briefer episodes of MS agony.

How about calling them short-term relapses, momentary flare-ups, stimuli-related symptomatic explosions, or situational exacerbations? But let’s not negate the MSer’s  suffering by calling it “pseudo.”

 Adapted from public domain artwork and photo

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