I was reading one of my books on MS yesterday, and had a light bulb moment when reading the discussion of the blood-brain barrier. The author talked about the theory that a trauma can damage the BBB, triggering (not causing) the onset of MS, in someone who is already genetically predisposed to the disease. It was the examples given of what constitutes trauma (“a car accident OR a fall”), that gave me pause. It suddenly occurred to me that I had two bad falls in the years prior to my dx. Recently someone on this board asked about illness or injury prior to dx, and at that time the only thing I recalled was having had mono, years ago. It didn’t occur to me to mention the injury from these falls.
In 2001, I was playing hide-and-seek with my doggies, running carelessly on my slippery ceramic tiles in sock feet. I slipped as a came around a corner and fell, face first, onto the floor. The impact was hard and I literally saw stars. The left side of my face was bruised for days and I had a black eye. It hurt badly, but I didn’t see any need to seek medical attention.
My second fall happened in 2004; again, being careless, I was carrying an overly large load of laundry down the basement stairs, again in sock feet, on stairs that for some reason are painted with a glossy (ie: slippery) paint. My feet went out from under me and I landed smack on my tailbone. This was probably the WORST pain I have ever experienced. I was immediately nauseous, my ears were ringing, and had a massive headache for a couple of hours. I waited several days to see a doctor when I realized the pain in my tailbone wasn’t going away quickly. The ER doc figured I cracked the bone, but said there was no point in doing X-ray since they couldn’t do anything for it anyway aside from painkillers. Several months later I realized my tailbone had still not healed while on a very long flight to Italy; about halfway over the Atlantic I couldn’t bear to stay seated, it was still so uncomfortable.
This may sound a bit odd, but the thought that either or both of these episodes may have contributed to my condition today really affected my emotions yesterday. I was thinking, damn, did I bring this on through my own stupid carelessness; could this possibly have been avoided simply by being a bit more careful and mindful of my surroundings? Fortunately, this feeling didn’t last long, and I quickly came back around to acceptance. I realize I could make myself crazy trying to figure out where this came from, and whether any of this is my fault, but it won’t change what is.
When I was in the process of being dx’ed for MS, and was asked specifically by the neurology resident about any past trauma, it never occurred to me to mention these two incidents. I now wonder if I may have had a slight concussion from one or both of these falls. I think at the time I downplayed my injuries, as I didn’t miss any work and just sort of sucked up the discomfort and pain. Anyway, in your opinion, it is worth bringing this up to my neurologist at this point? It won’t change anything, I already have a dx, but perhaps if there is a link between trauma and MS, it may be meaningful to have this information recorded in my history? Have you been asked this question by your doctors and if so, have they discussed with you a possible link between trauma and disruption of the BBB? If so, I’d be really interested in hearing your understanding of this topic.
PS: btw, the book I mention above is called “Exercises for Multiple Sclerosis: by B. Hamler. It’s a very good resource for those who are interested in fitness.
Hi there. I've been to a bunch of neuros and none has asked about previous trauma. But you know, just about everyone has suffered physical trauma at some point. It's part of living. The huge majority of people who sustain significant traumatic injury do not develop MS.
I see your point about MS being triggered. Still, that would be like an accident waiting to happen. I'm thinking that if it's gonna get triggered then it will, maybe later rather than sooner, but eventually. If we're wired to get MS we can't avoid it. Even some people who are not female, not Caucasian, not from Northern European stock, have no family history and who have not been raised in colder climates get MS. As do people with no traumatic injuries ever, however few all these types may be.
So please, don't beat yourself up thinking you may somehow have caused your own disease. It's not true, scientifically or any other way.
I hear what you're saying. In my logical mind, I know it really is wasted energy to contemplate such questions. If the best minds in science can't figure out what causes this disease, how can little old me expect to?
So, I'm back on track today, no longer blaming my klutziness for playing a part in my MS, and working on what I CAN control to be healthy. On that note, I'm off to the treadmill for my 5 km jog. This helps me to stay focused on what I CAN do, rather than what I should or should not have done in the past, or on things over which I have no control.
I think that there maybe a lot of truth it what you have read, when I was painting cars for a living the chemicals in the paints per the MSDS papers on them showed a lot of some very bad things that they can do to you and when I did finally started dropping from being around them and ending up in the ER 3 times and was finally given a MRI that had shown that I had lost a lot of my BBB do to shrinkage of it by the chemicals as well as a lot of CNS damage, but after being hit in the head by a home made t-post pounder that weighted a good 25 pounds as it came up and over the t-post and hit me in the head knocking me down in a daze as blood was rushing down my face, went down to the ER had a cat scan and got all stitched up
That was when I really started all kinds of symptoms of ms and as my doc told me was that the hit my have finally triggered my symptoms and now I feel like a lab rat with all kinds of meds to try and blood work up the butt
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