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)

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Saturday

Startle Reflex - Facing MS symptoms from A to Z



Remember the “Boo! Scared you!” game from childhood? (I surely do.)

“Aha! You jumped a mile!” my brothers would say, right after popping out around a dark corner of the attic or basement or from behind the kitchen door.

This smug declaration would naturally be followed by volleys of “Did not!” and “Did too.”



Living with multiple sclerosis sort of means one is always being surprised that way. Sudden sights and (especially) sudden sounds can make us jump. Sudden loud sounds are the worst.

A slamming door, a honking horn, or a clap of thunder might startle anyone. But startling stimuli can be smaller and more plentiful for lots of those battling MS.

MSers tend to be brave, bold people.

Heck, we slug it out with the dreaded MS MonSter on a daily basis. We’re not chickens or pansies or milk-toasts.

Not by any means.

It’s not that we’ve become more timid or frightened than we used to be. It’s just that our nerves are raw. Demyelination does that! So we may startle easier than other people – or than we ever did before.

Physicians call this hyper-reflex or exaggerated surprise response hyperekplexia. Makes sense, right? And, if a person experiences a sudden, involuntary muscle jerk as a result, it’s called myoclonus. Essentially, the heightened startle reflex many MS warriors experience is a form of stimulus sensitivity, perhaps agitated by a central nervous system compromises due to myelin damage from MS.



Images:
Word cloud generated by Kicking MS to the Curb - All rights reserved
Series title graphic adapted from public domain artwork.



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Friday

Retching - Facing MS symptoms from A to Z



Readers may recoil at the thought, but retching is an actual symptom for many people who live with multiple sclerosis. Maybe it goes along with the swallowing difficulties (known as dysphagia) and the heightened gag reflex that can be associated with MS. 



On the other hand, some MSers experience a diminished gag reflex, which can be a hazard of an altogether different sort.

Some medical experts point to MS demyelination and potential numbness in the throat as a cause for increased gagging and retching. Others blame mixed or dulled neurological signals, which might lead to an unpleasant cycle of gagging and retching that can be difficult to calm. Toss in a head or chest cold, some seasonal allergies, a bad reaction to a new medication, a case of food poisoning, a bout with anxiety, or the flu, and the situation only grows more acute.

For whatever reason, retching is one of those irritating MS symptoms that doctors generally fail to mention. That sort of makes it even more disturbing when it occurs.

Because choking and respiratory disease (such as pneumonia) can be particularly hazardous to MSers (especially those with the more progressive forms of the disease), retching and gagging may be profoundly problematic.

Various medications and home remedies may help with gagging and retching. Some people swear by applying pressure to certain body points or squeezing one thumb tightly inside the fist. Others claim a pinch of salt, applied directly to the tongue, will do the trick. Still others encourage the use of over-the-counter throat-numbing sprays, although caution may be warranted with MSers who deal with choking issues.


Images:
Word cloud generated by Kicking MS to the Curb - All rights reserved
Series title graphic adapted from public domain artwork.



Feel free to follow on GooglePlus and Twitter. Please visit my Amazon author page as well.
You are invited to join the Kicking MS to the Curb page on Facebook and the Making the Most of MS board on Pinterest.

Thursday

Qualms - Facing MS symptoms from A to Z




Here’s one of those strange multiple sclerosis symptoms that few physicians will actually address. But it’s a constant reality for many MS warriors.


“What if” can become almost a mantra for many MSers.

Here are a few examples:

  • What if my worst symptom flares up at a particularly difficult moment?
  • What if I fall down and can’t get up again?
  • What if I end up in a wheelchair?
  • What if I can’t make it up the stairs, once we get there?
  • What if I lose the ability to bathe and dress myself?
  • What if I can’t afford my prescriptions?
  • What if my friends don’t understand why I have to cancel plans, when MS fatigue strikes?
  • What if MS incontinence flares up, while I am away from home?
  • What if I stumble and fall in front of other people?
  • What if I lose the vision in my other eye?
  • What if I start choking badly, and no one is there to help me?
  • What if my medical insurance changes?
  • What if so-and-so leaves me, once he/she finds out I have MS?
  • What if I do not regain mobility after this exacerbation?
  • What if my boss fires me because I have MS?
  • What if I suddenly can’t get out of bed tomorrow?

These questions are genuine concerns for plenty of MSers, even if the worst-case scenarios never happen. We tend to over-analyze the details of our lives, perhaps hoping to prevent miserable or potentially embarrassing mishaps. We may even cancel plans, just in case.


Qualms? You bet.


Images:
Word cloud generated by Kicking MS to the Curb - All rights reserved
Series title graphic adapted from public domain artwork.



Feel free to follow on GooglePlus and Twitter. Please visit my Amazon author page as well.
You are invited to join the Kicking MS to the Curb page on Facebook and the Making the Most of MS board on Pinterest.
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