Multiple Sclerosis: Common symptoms for uncommon illness

MS: Common symptoms for uncommon illness

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Happy Friday GlobalMusic4 Life Fans! We made it through another week in one piece hopefully. As the sun shines into my office I am delighted by the sounds of the kids next door at the church playing outside. It seems like a nice spring day. It is not though; it is 34 out and very far away from my happy to be outside temperature range.

 

Things are not always what they seem. Sometimes on the weekend I take care of my friend’s kids to give her a break. She loves them but three screaming me me’s are enough to drive you to drink Gatorade.

My friend has MS, or rather multiple sclerosis. I am her go to babysitter when her symptoms flare. They can be in remission for months and then out of the blue “wham!” It is very inconvenient to say the very least. However she is lucky, she has a good support system, including yours truly.

 

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that can strike a person at any age. On average the diagnosed age is 29. It is often hard to initially diagnose and a true diagnosis requires the assistance of several specialists. These may include your internal medicine physician of family doctor. Neurologist, Neuro-ophthalmologists, and radiologist are all part of a good treatment team.

 

What is MS?

MS is an autoimmune disease. The current belief ( it is still being studied) is that an event happens in the body, maybe a severe viral attack ( Epstein Barr may be one of the culprits) and the T cells in the white blood cell group, over react. They cross the blood brain barrier and cause harm to nerve tissue by removing the fatty coating on nerves called myelin. This causes a certain type of micro scarring. This stops the nerves from sending and receiving messages properly. This affects the central nervous system… brain, spinal cord, and eyes. Yes, that pretty much covers the body. No one knows definitively what exactly causes MS, they do know there are genetic predispositions to it and many sufferers also have low vitamin D.

 

Symptoms:

The symptoms vary from patient to patient which is one of the reasons it is hard to diagnose often.

The severity differs as well. Although women account for 70% of MS patients, men get the more severe forms more often. Scientist are not sure why.

  1. Muscle spasms and pain ( may stay or come and go erratically )
  2. Joint Pain and muscle pain
  3. Cognitive issues, many patients have problems with memory
  4. Fatigue beyond what is expected for their normal activity
  5. Incontinence
  6. Constipation
  7. Frequent urgency to urinate
  8. Visual problems due to demyelination in the optical nerve bundle
    1. Sudden loss of vision
    2. Uncontrollable eye movements
    3. Double images due to weak eye muscles
  9. Muscle weakness
  10. Sexual problems
    1. Loss of desire
    2. Trouble achieving orgasm where there was problem before
    3. Reduced sensation
  11. Depression

 

Wow, that is a lot. Those symptoms can cover a host of other diseases. The best way to diagnose is to rule out other ailments and then have an MRI. MS often leaves brain lesions that can be seen by a radiologist.

 

Types of MS

There are four main types.  However 85% of the people with MS have relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. They have periods where certain symptoms will flare up and then go into a period of remission. The other types are secondary progressive where symptoms get worse over time. Primary progressive MS is where symptoms slowly worsen over time. The last one is the worse but only affects about 5 % of the MS sufferers. Progressive relapsing MS is where the disease’s symptoms quickly get worse and often never go into remission. Most of these sufferers are men.

 

What to do? Can your prevent MS?

No, there is no known prevention. It has been know to run in families but is not a genetic disease like sickle cell anemia. People with low Vitamin D have a higher chance of developing it. The human body needs a little UV light for natural vitamin D. Between sunscreen and living and working inside, many Americans have low vitamin D and have to supplement it. MY personal opinion is nothing takes the place of a 30 minute walk in the sun. Obesity and smoking are also risk factors.

 

Treatment and outlook

The outlook for MS is not horrible… there is no cure or preventative medication. There is however, increasingly more effective treatments to help MS patients deal with their illness better. Many MS patients feel diet and exercise help with their symptoms as well. ( Hey I blog for GM4L, I have to do a shout out for healthy eating and exercise) There are a number of natural therapeutic treatments to help with different symptoms. Usually the focus is on pain reduction and muscle control.

 

There is currently research going on in conjunction with scholars looking to find treatments for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other diseases. The goal is to figure out how MS is triggered and to stop that trigger. Another goal is to figure out how we can ad the myelin back to the damaged nerve bundles or generate new ones all together. The work is ongoing.

 

On a good note, my friend has had it for 12 years and she seems to be getting better. Her remissions lasts longer and her flare ups are not as severe and life altering. When she was first diagnosed it took the doctors three years to come up with MS. Now the same professionals can diagnose someone within weeks. That is a major thing. The sooner you are diagnosed the sooner effective treatment can begin.

She is doing better and I can send the little darlings back to her and her husband.

 

Are you or a loved one battling MS? How long did it take to diagnose? Let me know!

I am at MsMelissa@melissaweblog.com

 

Love and light,

 

Melissa

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99 problems… and a bitch is actually one of them..

99 Problems….

…and a bitch is actually one of them

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Ok, happy snow day fellow GlobalMusic4 Life fans. Shout out to those of you in beautiful, sunny states too! Don’t think you are safe. It snowed in Hawaii this year. That means no one is safe! Ha!

 

Ok about the title, here is the situation. I want a new dog. I really want a new dog. It’s like having a new boyfriend only the dog pretends to listen and if it isn’t faithful, neuter him! Ha-ha, ok yes I am feeling quirky and I will tell you why.

 

I had a loaner dog. What is a loaner dog you say? It is a dog that you foster temporarily to see how you get along. Plus the shelter was a no kill shelter and filled to the rafters. So as my tongue in cheek title suggest, it’s a girl dog. She is a cute little black doggie. She is so affectionate. She could be called clingy.

I never had a dog before but I have lived in places where others had dogs so I thought it would be ok.

 

It was not. That black bitch was crazy.

Wow.

 

Ok puppies can be trippy. They pee all over. I am still finding where urine and other fun items are in hidden spots. Scratches on the wooden doors are all over. She chewed on stuff that I don’t even remember having. She howled, whined, and had the audacity to hide the TV remote! Ok I am glad she didn’t eat it. Maybe she thought it was a new age bone? I found it in the kitchen behind the fridge.

The only reason I even looked back there is because she had urinated on the fridge and I had to move it to clean the floor.

 

Marking the fridge? Really little doggie? Oh well, at least you didn’t open it first. I am a glass half full kind of girl.

 

Ok, after two weeks of insanity, I took her to a doctor. Duh, right? I did mention I never had a dog before. It turns out, just like every mom of every psych patient in written history, it was all my fault.

 

First, she should have been crated. I thought crating was mean and she would appreciate being able to walk around while I was gone. Yes it sounds dumb even as I write it. Puppies like her should be crated because the little scamps get into everything.

 

Secondly, I fed her wrong. I am sorry but those little cute watery eyes begging me for some of my grilled chicken made me give in. Ok no table food with exotic spices for doggy. Check.

 

Thirdly, and this is super funny. You won’t believe me but I will tell you anyway. Ready?

The darn dog was allergic to me.

I know right? What? As much as I scrub, shave, condition, wash and wax – you would think that your favorite blogger was hypoallergenic. No, apparently, I have cooties, Dang! I loved that darn dog.

 

Apparently dogs have allergies to people. Not people per se, but my doggie liked to lick me. I take a lot of supplements and a few meds and they come out of my skin. The doctor said to forbid her to lick me in any way. I said come on, I don’t let her lick my face, that’s gross, but not even my hand? Nope, the doctor said she should not come in contact with my skin. The combination of whatever I was ingesting or rubbing on my skin is making doggie sick. She had an allergic reaction which made her want to chew a lot more and drink more water and urinate more than normal.

 

I said ok so no touching my skin and we are all good? That’s going to require crating because she sleeps with me and sneaks and licks me in my sleep. ( She has never peed in the bed, go figure)  The doctor said it may be something in the house as well. My home is 105 years old, it could be anything from lead paint somewhere that she nibbled remotely, a tiny bit of whatever she licked off the floor, who can tell.

 

So officially, the little black doggie is allergic to me. I told the shelter and the woman blessed me out. Dang lady, I was trying to help but it is what it is. She said someone will pick up the dog in a week. Ummm, I am making the doggie sick she needs to leave now. Who knows what a week with my crazy toad skin will do to the little dear.

After a full ten minutes of the facility manager telling me I was a liar in 50 different ways, I took a breath and took the high road. I gave her the doctor’s number and name and told her I was bringing the doggie over right then and there. Let the doctor tell her the situation. I love the little doggie but she has cost me socks, sneakers, a universal remote, and the vet bill was similar to the last time I went to the emergency room.

Upon reaching the shelter, the manager looked at me sheepishly and apologized. She then promptly asked me to take a different dog to replace the one I was bringing back. No thanks. The dog and I were both sad, maybe if I get off some of my supplements and puppy proof the house better, I can revisit the dog idea.

She was adopted. She is in a home with little kids and a big yard. Yes I know, glass half full. But at that time it was half full of pee. That was supposed to be my dog. Dang.

 

OK, let’s talk about the medical aspects of this little story. This is a “mediciney” blog after all.

Allergies to dogs are super common. Many over the counter remedies can help. However, Benadryl for life seems like a lot to me. We are usually allergic to dander. That is dry skin flakes I believe. However, people can be allergic to the urine, saliva, hair, or feces. There is no hypoallergenic dog. No, the president’s dogs are included. Some are better than others but everything with skin that sheds can generate an allergic response.

 

Thirty two percent of the homes in America have dogs. Some neighborhoods are loaded with them while others have very few. Dog dander can be anywhere, even if dogs aren’t present. It’s almost like spider webs. You may not see the actual spiders but you know they have been there somewhere… Well dog allergy sufferers may sneeze because of the dander on their friend’s favorite sweater or in area where a dog just walked.

 

Dog allergy symptoms:

Sneezing around dogs or where dogs have been

Itchy eyes that get red and puffy

Coughing

Stuffy and runny nose

Skin rashes

 

Dog allergy treatments:

Allergy shot

Steroids: Flonase, Nasonex

Antihistamines: Allegra, Claritan, Nasacort, Zyrtec

Decongestants: Sudafed, Allegra –D

 

How to avoid the allergies or minimize them if you have a dog;

Wood floors or floors that are easily dusted with a swifter and mop – something that actually picks up the dander and allergens

Leather, pleather, or smooth furniture; easier to clean

For fabrics: keep the dog off! Ok we both know that is impossible, just vacuum often

Do not sleep with dog

Do not let dog lick you (you can be allergic to saliva)

Do not let your skin come in contact with dog urine or feces

Keep dog’s hair trimmed and cleaned ( yes for some this is expensive)

Keep dog’s rest area clean and away from your rest area (no sleeping in your room or in the kitchen or front room or bathroom… maybe the extra room or basement if it is nice)

 

Take the medicines in the morning before the symptoms occur, play with Fido to your hearts content! And then change your clothes and wash your hands and face. (Yes I know you didn’t let her lick your face, but you rubbed her belly. Are you SURE you didn’t touch your face afterward? We do it often and unconsciously)

 

So go out and enjoy the dogs. I still want one but maybe I will have it tested before I get too attached. That and buy a crate.

 

Do you have a crazy doggie? Has he or she seen a vet? Tell me about it!

 

I am at MsMelissa@melissaweblog.com

 

Love and Light,

 

Lissa

 

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