Thursday, May 10, 2012

Carnival of MS Bloggers #114

Welcome to the Carnival of MS Bloggers, a bi-weekly compendium of thoughts and experiences shared by those living with multiple sclerosis.

Powerful Food, Pseudoexacerbations, and B/B Dysfunction

by Webster of halt stop forget relax

I imagine that many of you with MS deal with the dreaded B&B issue; not the second B - Bladder - which gets lots of attention. We either pee too often, or not enough, or get UTIs all the time, or wet our bed, or our pads, or ourselves. But the first B - Bowel - is the one that rarely gets talked about, and when it does get talked (or written about in neat little pamphlets explaining the various symptoms of MS that may affect us) it leans toward one end of the spectrum -- constipation. Oh, the dreaded bloating and feeling that you have to take a dump, but you just can't.

It doesn't tell you that constipation can be so bad that you need to see a gastroenterologist to find ways to manage it. Like taking doses of various meds, laxatives, eat more fiber, or even using your fingers to pry the stool from you. Oh happy, oh joy. Of course, you know you might be able to go if you just drank enough water to wash things out, but when you do that you can't control the other B [Bladder] (see paragraph one.)

It also doesn't tell you about the other problem: incontinence. Yes, that kind of incontinence. Going without warning wherever you might be. I have known someone to whom that happened - in a high end department store, no less. The sales clerks were very kind to her and led her to a private bathroom so she could clean up, and brought her a change of clothes. Yes, they were very kind indeed. She never set foot in that store again.

They don't mention that in those pamphlets. N'uh uh. And another woman told me that she was in a mall when it happened to her; suddenly it started running down her leg. She said she never wanted to be a runner, but she did that day. She was mortified, and lucky too, in a way, because though  she left a trail of sorts, it just led to an empty parking spot. She retained her anonymity, at least.

What if the problem you have is that you can't feel when you have to go until, well, until it's actually TIME TO GO? And what if that happens when you're in the middle of a dream that starts telling you to get to a bathroom ... any bathroom ... like right now? And you wake up in a stupor, and you can barely move your legs because the blankets were a little too warm and you try to stand up, and you can't? You try and you try and you keep falling back onto the bed, and you start going and you know you can't control it? What do you do? This is no nightmare; well, yes it is, it is a nightmare, and this nightmare is part of MS. This is what happened to me the night before last.

So I look around to see what I have nearby that might save the situation. I find one of those thin blue plastic absorbent lined pads that they use at every urologist appt. [Don't mock me- I think it's foolish to  let all that Dr. office stuff go to waste - so I bring it home; you never know when it might come in handy] This seemed like the perfect thing to use it for - to catch my poop unmentionable bits so they didn't get all over my sheets. I turned to lay on my side and managed to get it beneath and behind me. My sheets were saved; I just lost my dignity as I had to call my husband to help at that point. I had no TP. I couldn't clean myself. I still couldn't stand. I was exhausted. I just wanted to cry but couldn't thanks to my antidepressant.

I needed more sleep, so after DH cleaned things up (he's so good, he takes these things in stride), I took a long nap, after which I was able to (barely) stand, at least enough to use a walker to go to the bathroom, take a shower and get dressed.

MS just keeps getting better and better. I know; you don't have to say it, I was happy to share.

[Here is more information regarding bowel dysfunction.]

by Yvonne Sousa

Kale is the new black
I cannot put it off any longer. For almost forty years I have been shirking my vegetable consuming responsibilities and now it is time to face them. Don’t get me wrong, I would try to lean towards healthy eating often enough. If I decided to treat myself with a bit of fudge I always went for the pumpkin or cranberry variety to get some of my fruit requirement in.

When picking out ice cream flavor I would choose a vanilla base- vanilla being a type of bean. If went out to eat and was asked which side I would like with my entrée I would pick the French fries to get potatoes (a veggie after all) in with the meal. And, of course, I never held the lettuce, onion, or tomato on my burger. The pickles I would toss aside, you can only go so far on the health kick.

But for some reason all of the hard work above was not enough. Apparently I needed to take a more thorough and active stance on eating vegetables in their natural form. I have been told that they are a necessary part of the diet and eating more of them will help my health and my BMI. But as someone who has taken great pains to avoid them whenever possible, where to begin?

I like the idea of corn- well cornfields anyway. They present such a nice image of middle-America and kids with overalls and ribbons frolicking in the fields. But a super healthy cousin who has a small farm in her backyard (too weird, even for my family, a farm in Massachusetts,) informed me that corn is now the root of all evil.

Seems, she insists, that we Americans eat too much corn and give too much of it to our livestock and that is why we are falling apart. I guess that is good news. It is only the idea of corn that I like, the actual stuff is icky.

Ok, I can handle a salad. I will go with that. But no, it turns out iceberg lettuce is really just a big clump of green water. It is not that healthy, the experts are starting to say.

I was about to give up when a friend directed me to Dr. Terry Wahls website that shows a super good-for-you eating plan, designed especially for people with multiple sclerosis. At first, it was terrifying. Dr. Wahls wants you to eat nine cups of green leafy vegetables a day! That just seemed insane and totally overwhelming.

But I was committed so I continued exploring. One of the veggies she recommends is spinach. Well, I can kind of deal with that. Especially if I use the bagged, dry spinach and load it with dressing in order to pretend it is salad. That might work for me. The wet stuff Popeye used to chug is out of the question but maybe I could accept the dry stuff.

Then Dr. Wahls said something wonderful, something I could totally work with. It turns out that kale is a green leafy full of all kinds of nutrients and good stuff! Wow, I thought only Portuguese people knew about kale.

And I had no idea it was a vegetable! Is Dr. Wahls sure about this? I always thought kale was just a soup additive that you got from your grandmother’s house or your cousin’s yard (oh yeah, a farm, now I get it).
Portuguese flag and ball

This whole time it seems we Portuguese folks were already on the health track! I did some more research and it turns out that kale is the new black, meaning, it is the new super food. And since it is super good for ms’ers, it is the new orange as well. Yay!

It shouldn’t surprise me that my Portuguese friends and family were leading the way in this regard. Didn’t our Brazilian cousins discover last year’s new super food- the Acai berry? Who knows what we will discover next? Maybe the delicious Portuguese pastry trutas are the next super food? Why not? Trutas are filled with sweet potato so there you go! We Portuguese folks have now discovered three new super foods.

What about codfish cakes? The poor cod is one ugly fish but he is a fish and so maybe filled with good proteins and stuff. Hey, I bet he eats kale too so if you eat codfish cakes you might be getting protein AND a vegetable.

red wine
And then there is the wine. I don’t care what the French or the Napa Valley people say, the best wine comes from Portugal. And, research shows that red wine is really good for you. The experts suggest drinking it in moderation but I know a lot of other experts that drink it all day and they seem pretty healthy. They are pretty vocal and animated at least.

I guess my dad knew what he was doing when we visited his homeland when I was twelve and he wouldn’t let me drink American soda. “You are in Portugal and will drink wine like all the other Portuguese kids!” I thought he was being weird. Turns out, he was just worried about my health.

Encouraged and energized, I set out to start my new healthy eating plan and the world fell into place! A nice, hot bowl of kale soup filled with all things good. Vegetables- kale-who knew, potatoes, and a tiny bit of carrots to give the soup some extra color (carrots are no longer one of the best veggies and I don’t want to muck up the soup up too badly), beans-this soup just gets healthier and healthier, linguica- protein, thank you, and salt pork.

I don’t know too much about salt pork- is it a vegetable too? Even if it is not it just adds a bit flavor so how bad can it be? Red wine, some Portuguese bread- hello-grains, butter- dairy of course, codfish cakes as a side- all kinds of health benefit there, and trutas for dessert. Repeat this meal nine times a day. I love Dr. Wahl. This is going to be a cinch!

by Sarah O

Don’t you sometimes have that feeling that you know exactly what your body is going through, what the problem is and where the problem is. Sometimes you really don’t have a clue. But sometimes you just know.

Another one of those weeks when you’re going through so much you don’t know what to control or where to start. Can’t say what triggered it. I do vaguely recall saying that my throat was hurting.  Then it wasn’t. Was going back and forth between the hospital to see an unwell relative. Also took some probiotics to cure a stomach bug. Had a few bad nights of worsening chills. The days were marked with a constant supply of acetaminophen to keep functional. Realized I had low grade fever throughout the day and all the ugly things that come with it. Body aches, dehydration, burning eyes. Sneakily getting worse, my bones started to ache, my limbs became weaker and weaker. “I have an infection.” I can't explain but it felt like something running rampant in my body. Until one day I was sitting at work crying, my bones hurt so bad I felt they would break, I couldn’t put pressure on my legs or carry anything with my arms.  All my other pains crept up with a vengeance.  It was like a symphony, each one trying to out-do the other and make itself heard and noticed. The pins and needles, the stabbing, the aching, the crawling, and the shooting.

I did get a bit scared. It could be the Fibromyalgia, the Multiple Sclerosis, or the Osteopenia.

Of course I went to a few doctors, but we started an antibiotic course on our own.  The white blood cell count was high. Within a few days I was getting back to normal. I slept like a baby and my pains were gone.  I have had many, many bad infections in the past, but never such a bad experience of tiding through it. Okay, so I’ve had some pretty bad infections in my life. They’re really not so hard to wait through. But this time, it was crippling.

Two things: A quick look around the internet shows how MS patients are at an increased risk from infections. The immune system is already compromised and any minor infection can cause serious flare-ups of existing symptoms, sending you hurtling over the edge.

Also, if you look it up, it is suggested that you see your GP if you have Multiple Sclerosis or a weak immune system and develop any Respiratory Tract Infection (RTI). A simple course of antibiotics may pep you right back up. If you want, you may look up detailed studies on the subject;

As for me, I’ve never been so petrified of coughing, sneezing germ bags in my life. Also, I've started carrying a hand sanitizer, and graciously offer it to as many as will use it !!

[Lisa's note: Here is more information regarding infection and pseudoexacerbations.  When living with MS, developing an infection can cause symptoms to temporarily worsen.  It can be quite unpleasant, but it doesn't affect the course of your disease.]

This concludes the 114th edition of the Carnival.  The next Carnival of MS Bloggers will be hosted here on May 24, 2012. Please remember to submit a post (via email) from your blog of which you are particularly proud, or which you simply want to share, by noon on Tuesday, May 22, 2012.

Thank you.


  1. Great posts! The last one is timely for me, as I am fighting pnuemonia and an MS relapse or a pseudo one.

  2. I know all about the B's,goes from one extreme to another.My best friend suffers from Crohn's and we have the same suffering but her is worse when the time goes from not at all to wooo Nellie.Thank you for posting this,know I do know for sure others do suffer.It has been something I haven't shared or heard anyone else talk about.