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Anatomy of an MS Flare-Up
During a flare-up of MS or as you will soon see; symptoms can be from many sources or disorders other than MS. They can occur during a flare-up or remain constant. Neurological diseases produce some strange sensations. Please keep in mind that these are only examples. This is not a complete list; but the most commonly experienced symptoms.
* Pain upon movement of your eye/blurred vision-even temporary blindness, commonly known as Optic Neuriitis.
* Trouble walking on an uneven surface. Carpeting that is too spongy, sand, tall grass; even being unable to walk in the dark. Walking as if you are walking through quick sand. Upon closing your eyes; knowing where your body parts are in relation to space, i.e., close your eyes and see if you can tell in what position your leg is in. Is it tucked under you? Is it stretched out? Do you know at all?
*Extreme heaviness in the legs, becoming even worse with over-exertion
* One side of your torso or body being numb with tingling and/or a burning sensations-numbness in any body part /face or even your scalp
* Spasms, usually in the legs, but can be in various areas of the body.
* Slurring speech, not being able to "find" words you want to use, mixing words up in a sentence.
* Short-term memory problems, remembering dates, people's name, days of the week, etc.
* Unable to stay on task, then having trouble restarting the project you were trying to accomplish
* Excess noise or sounds being very irritating; as in hearing loud music, too many people talking at one time, resulting in total confusion
* PAIN-burning, stabbing, achiness, pulling sensations in a muscle, cramping, etc. Some MS patients experience headaches when in a flair-up.
* Bowel or bladder problems, running the full gambit-from not being able to hold your urine, dribbling as soon as you think of urinating and not being able to control it at all, not fully emptying your bladder, (same symptoms with bowels)constipation (usually) but can alternate between constipation and diahhrea
* Fatigue-unlike anything you have experienced before. Not your usual kind of tired after a busy day, but overpowering fatigue, even after a full night's rest or fatigue after very simple exertion or heat.
* Intolerance of heat/some people intolerance to cold-symptoms becoming more pronouced if overheated/usually abating when your body temperature returns to normal (please keep in mind that if you are already in a flair-up your symptoms will increase during overheating but will decrease in severity; but not disppear after returning to your normal body temperature
* Flair-ups occur shortly after getting over any kind of infection-especially a respiratory infection. Stress can cause symptoms and put you into a flair-up. Sometimes when the stressor is removed, the symptoms will disappear.
* Walking can become difficult/for some impossible. Some people cannot walk at all during a flair-up and are wheelchair bound, (or using a walker or cane) but can resume normal walking when their flair-up is over. Of course we already know that some of our members are already in wheechairs everyday.
* Symptoms lasting more than 24 hours-sometimes lasting weeks or months and in some people with MS, never returning to your pre-flair state.
* Depression/mood swings
* Problem solving skills are affected. As with me, not knowing how to put a rubber band in my hair; lasting several seconds...to only give one example.
* Dizziness/vertigo-severe balance problems. Unable to walk without running into things or having to grab things to hold on, while trying to walk.
* Hearing difficulties. Usually one ear, not in both.
* Lack of flair-ups during pregnancy. Usually within 6 months of giving birth, the mother will go into a flair-up.
* Manual dexterity/lack of coordination
As I said in the beginning, this is not a complete list. I am hoping after compiling this list, it may help some that are diagnosed, better understand some of their symptoms. For those undiagnosed, to possibly see themselves WITH these symptoms. Maybe realize by reading over this list, that you will be able to see how confusing your Neurologist can be, when trying to diagnose MS; as these kinds of symptoms can be the result of SO MANY other disorders.
MS can be tough to diagnose. For sure! It's even harder when you have these kinds of symptoms and all your testing comes back negative. MRI's come back clear. Nothing to explain what you are going through.
'Patience' is one of the hardest words to hear, when you are waiting for the doctor's to tell you what's wrong. The symptoms are so vast and mimic so many things, that the words "time and patience," are the only things another person can offer you. Sometimes our best advice is to find another doctor.
I am not a doctor...only a person that has been living with MS for a long time. If there are any of you that want to ask any questions, I will be glad to try to answer them for you. If I can't answer them, I will tell you; but will promise to direct you to someone who may better explain. No one has all the answers....no one. Or certainly there would be a cure and a reversal of MS by now.
Try to remember when you are told to "give it time and be patient," that you are also being told that you are not alone. I, like so many others, will 'wait' with you. I will always promise to do what I can as a human being and someone with MS, to do all I can to help you get through the tough times and rejoice with you during the happy times.