Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017 Top HealthCentral Multiple Sclerosis Posts

From personal stories, embarrassing stories, and inspirational stories to research news, bizarre symptoms, and talks of life changes due to MS, we covered a little of everything in 2017.

Life changes with MS

A chronic condition like MS may mean not being able to enjoy the things you did before diagnosis — but it can also result in new pursuits and pleasures.

Life is created from memorable moments

Urinary incontinence is an embarrassing symptom of multiple sclerosis that can occur at the most inopportune moments.
Handling the ups and downs of multiple sclerosis takes practice, patience, and persistence.

Celebrating caregivers

Caregiving takes practice when MS is a third wheel in the relationship.
In 1992, Liz Hoy was diagnosed with MS. Since then, her husband Mike has cared for her and been a tireless advocate on her behalf.
It’s necessary to focus on self-care before you can care for a loved one in crisis.

Answering important questions

Distinguishing between the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and those of other conditions can be difficult at times.
The gut microbiome is a hot research topic these days. Some studies suggest that gut health might be associated with multiple sclerosis.

So how are you really doing?

When you’re living with a chronic condition, it’s not always easy to answer when people ask, “How are you?”
Focusing on mental health may help you to clean out the emotional clutter of MS.

Exercise to improve MS symptoms

Tai Chi, a mindfulness-based exercise program, has been studied in clinical trials to determine if it improves multiple sclerosis symptoms.
Vestibular rehabilitation therapy is an exercise-based treatment program designed to improve your brain’s ability to adapt to vestibular problems and to use other senses to compensate for deficiencies.

Be more than your MS

Lacy Gadegaard, founder and owner of Laced Hair Extensions, gets candid about how being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis saved her life.
Personality traits, such as openness to new experiences, may help to protect memory function and cognition in people living with MS.

Maintain access to accessible parking

Accessible parking is one of the more controversial issues in the MS community. Many people have mixed feeling about the need to park in spaces that offer increased access.
Once you have your placard, be sure to park within the lines of the designated spaces. Others need to park there too.

Facing common symptoms of MS

While some people with multiple sclerosis are heat intolerant and have trouble during the summer, others are sensitive to cold temperatures.
Dizziness associated with multiple sclerosis is about more than vertigo or loss of balance.
Pain in MS comes in many forms — neuropathic pain, musculoskeletal pain, spasticity, and spasms; each can make your legs hurt.

And less common MS symptoms

Hyperosmia, an increased sense of smell, is one of those weird MS things I’ve learned to live with.
Smell and taste are closely related, but an altered sense of taste may signal MS progression.
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a symptom of multiple sclerosis that causes intense pain in the face and jaw.

Welcoming 2018

As we look forward to 2018, we invite you to live BOLD, live NOW, and be empowered to take control of your health. Please join us in our MS HealthCentral Facebook community and follow us on Twitter @MSHealthCentral.

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HealthCentral Top Multiple Sclerosis Posts of 2017 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Real MS Profiles: Meet Kathleen G

Kathleen G. was diagnosed with MS in 2006 after a very long year of testing. We spoke with Kathleen about her MS. Here is an excerpt from our discussion.

Q: How has MS impacted your life?
Kathleen: My life ended while I was waiting to be diagnosed. My brain didn't work right anymore and I couldn't do my job. I couldn't do any job because I didn't know how I would feel from one day to the next. My kids were in high school, middle school, and elementary school. I couldn't keep up with them. I was so emotional that they lost a lot of respect for me really fast.

Q: Have you made any conscious lifestyle changes due to MS? If so, have they affected your quality of life?
Kathleen: I went back to bare basics. Moved out of a big house that I couldn't get around in to a tiny one-bedroom apartment with utilities included. Something finally clicked inside me. I focused less on stress and trying to do what I should be doing and instead be OK with doing what I could.

Q: What are your greatest joys with MS?
Kathleen: I was so happy to just know what the heck was wrong with me, I didn't care what it was. At least I knew, and no one could say it was all in my head anymore!

Q: If your MS were an animal, what would it be and why?
Kathleen: A sloth—because that's how I feel most of the time. And because MS is ugly and dirty with even more disgusting twists and turns the more you learn about it.

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RealMSProfiles: Kathleen G

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What Do I Mean When I Say I'm Fine?

Living with a chronic condition, such as multiple sclerosis, brings with it a heavy load of emotional, physical, and social challenges. The symptoms alone can be perplexing and are never the same between two people. Lately, there’s one social challenge that has been on my mind—how to respond to the question, “How are you?”
When in a group setting, I almost always respond with “I’m fine,” or “I’m good,” without thinking about it. An upbeat “I’m fine” is automatic. When in a one-on-one setting, I may pause and consider how exactly I want the conversation to go. If I’m with a very close friend, I might expand my response and go into more detail, regardless if the update skews positive or negative.
When talking to my husband, I want to be honest but I also know how much he wants me to feel well. Depending upon what type of support I need at the moment, I might allow my empathy for his feelings to color my response. I don’t like to feel as though I am dumping all my crap on him. But when I need extra support or understanding, I feel safe in sharing what’s really going on and how I feel about it. When I tell my husband “I’m good,” it generally means I feel confident that I can manage things at the moment.
Earlier this summer, I was experiencing increased pain due to knee osteoarthritis and was seeking care from my orthopedic doctor who prescribed a series of injections. My mother-in-law has had her own knee problems, so she felt sympathy for what I was going through. I visited her following one of my knee injections and she asked how I was. My response was a neutral “I’m okay.” Her brow furrowed and she replied, “Not good, then?” “No, I’m doing fine,” I insisted. Her experience colored how she heard my simple words.

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The Many Shades of I'm Fine

Friday, October 6, 2017

Remembering Life Before MS: What I Miss Most

My multiple sclerosis diagnosis took multiple years. It wasn’t a quick affair. Years separated early attacks, including five years between a case of temporary blindness from optic neuritis and the loss of the use of my left hand and arm which finally led to a diagnosis. During those years, my life was evolving as well.
Before MS, I was actively building a career as a freelance musician in the Washington, D.C., area. At one point, I was teaching a weekly schedule of 44 private students while also performing in at least two or three concerts each month. The demand upon my time and energy was tremendous.
Since MS, I have become a wife, writer, patient advocate, speaker, consultant, moderator, medical reviewer, and new Bike MS participant. I will always be a musician and still teach private lessons in my home studio. My schedule is just as busy as before, although I am engaged in different activities.

What I miss most:

Chest-thumping sounds

I miss the tremendous sensation of the sound waves produced by 100 other musicians on a symphony stage traveling through my body during a performance. The joy of listening to perfect harmony and stylistic precision up close and personal. The mix of overtones in the ears that stimulate the brain in a most satisfying way. There is nothing quite like it.

Separation of work and home

I miss that satisfying feeling of coming home after a long day of lessons and/or rehearsals to take my shoes off, sit on the couch, and chill with some late night television. With clearly defined boundaries, both physical and mental, of what is work and what is not work, it is nice to feel the separation between activities.
Now, I work from home. As a writer and community moderator, I can be “at work” 24 hours a day, anytime of the day. I find myself with my laptop computer in my recliner toggling between projects for hours at a time. And with the potential cognitive problems associated with MS, it becomes difficult to stay focused on any one project.

Hiking and crunching leaves

As a graduate student, I lived not far from beautiful Brown County State Park in Indiana. Hiking was particularly fun during the autumn, when leaves of many colors covered the ground. The combined sound of rustling leaves in the trees and boots sweeping through blankets of leaves on the trail was particularly satisfying on a cool, crisp morning.
Now, I need to be able to see any obstacles on the ground or risk catching my toes on the tiniest of surface imperfections. Tripping on air has become one of my special talents since living with MS has impacted sensation in my feet. Walking on any path that is covered with leaves, stones, or debris poses an extreme tripping hazard.

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Three Things I Miss Most About Life Before MS

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

MS Symptoms May Aggravate Osteoarthritis

Although osteoarthritis (OA) is generally considered to be a “wear and tear” condition affecting older adults, it can also affect individuals in their 40s and 50s. I was first diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis in my early 40s, several years after being diagnosed with MS in my mid-30s. My case of OA is tricompartmental, meaning that it affects each of three joint areas where the thigh bone and lower leg come together and behind the kneecap. Eventually I will need total knee replacement on both my left and right knees.

Do MS symptoms lead to osteoarthritis?

One of the more complex risk factors for knee OA is muscle weakness, particularly in the quadriceps. MS can be associated with weak thigh muscles. Researchers examining potential associations between MS and osteoarthritis hypothesized that the knee joint in people with MS might be more greatly affected due to problems with balance and muscle weakness and may result in earlier joint degeneration.
To test this theory, researchers used ultrasound to investigate whether there is a correlation between the breakdown of femoral cartilage — the cartilage that covers the end of the thigh bone — and MS-related disease parameters.

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Are Multiple Sclerosis and Osteoarthritis Connected?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sex and MS: Speak Up! Your Doctor May Not Ask

During a routine visit with your neurologist, there is much material to cover. Your doctor will ask about symptoms, watch you walk, and conduct a neurological exam. He or she may also ask about your family life, work life, relapses, or treatment concerns. However, it turns out that many doctors may be uncomfortable asking about your sex life.

In a survey of 42 neurologists, members of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, more than 80 percent of respondents report routinely assessing for depression, anxiety, sleep, and pain—but only half ask about sexual dysfunction; 18 did not routinely assess sexual function; 24 did.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) can affect sexual function in women and men with MS, thus impacting quality of life. Symptoms of sexual dysfunction can include sensory changes, decreased lubrication, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, or problems with orgasm. In some patients, spinal cord lesions can be associated with bladder, bowel, and/or sexual dysfunction.

Sexual dysfunction (SD) is a common symptom of MS that may be under-diagnosed, particularly in women with the disease. A survey of 86 women with relapsing-remitting MS revealed that 27 percent of respondents experienced SD. Persons with other forms of the disease may be more likely to have sexual dysfunction.

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Why You Should Talk To Your Doctor About Your Sex Life