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)


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.

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

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