Symptoms do not cause or trigger a relapse. A relapse may cause and trigger new or increased symptoms. This has been my experience and it fits the accepted 'definition' of an exacerbation or relapse.
However, there are a select collection of symptoms which seem to precede a relapse in my case. Not always, but often I will notice that I begin to experience INCREASED sensory symptoms.
I say increased (capitalized) because I live with sensory issues every single day. I joke that I always dare the neuro to make me flinch or make me say 'ouch' when he/she uses the safety pin to prick my legs and arms (even my back). The neuro nurse insists that she doesn't want to draw blood, but I say go for it. Make me feel something.
One particularly annoying sensory symptom which has become a barometer of how my body is dealing with stress is plastered across my face. This symptom literally spreads across my cheeks, nose, eyebrows, and forehead.
It is my FUZZY FACE.
I remember when a random floating cat hair would drive me crazy when it hit my face. That cat hair was so difficult to grab hold of and remove. My fuzzy face feels more like soft, fluffy cotton has permanently landed on my cheeks. No amount of brushing it away will make it go away.
When I am stressed, my fuzzy face shows up. When I have been an insomniac for too many days, my fuzzy face shows up. When I am emotionally drained, my fuzzy face shows up.
The past two weeks have found me emotionally drained, an insomniac, and a tad bit stressed. My face started feeling fuzzy about three days ago. I need to breathe and let it go.
I feel that I'm crushing under the pressure of keeping up with things. I have an article re: joint surgery which was due earlier this past week. I spent much of last weekend lamenting just how I didn't feel like reading any more info about joint replacement materials or techniques, no more about scientific studies on replacing toe joints, and definitely no more about common hip or knee replacement surgeries.
No more, please. No more images of fingers sliced open during surgery. No more attempting to pick the relevant information and compile it into a neat-and-tidy 800 word essay. Simply no more.
Sometimes I get tired of seemingly giving and giving. Today some friends gave me great words of support when I expressed a little exasperation. They confirmed that I'm not being selfish to want to benefit from my own efforts on occasion. I really needed to read those words.
So after a big cathartic (internal) scream, I hope that tomorrow I will wake up and have a normal-feeling face. If so, then I will know that emotional stress has been the cause.
My emotionally fuzzy face - always a good sign to back off and try to relax. So unlike an ostrich, I will 'face' this one head on. I owe it to myself.