MS Traffic Light

So I saw a picture on Facebook the other day…. And it got me thinking. (I know scary, right?) Anyways, you know when we have those people in our lives that ask how we are doing, and actually wanting to know the REAL answer? Well, maybe we can use a Traffic Light as a way of explanation.

We already have the split/broken wire explanation to describe an MS attack... And then I posted about MS Snowflakes as a way to explain about how were all living with MS, but not identical. So I'm guessing the traffic light can be used to as a way to explain our symptoms and/or daily battle living with MS.

Ok, so we have of course red light, yellow light & green light. Green is of course go, yellow is slow down/proceed with caution and red is a complete stop.

Now, when translating to daily living... Let's say that you're feeling great, you aren't struggling with any symptoms that are impairing you, but maybe just having mild severity of symptoms. So I would explain that to my loved ones that I'm having a green light day. This is where we can go about our daily living with little to no interruption. Almost "normal", well what was considered “normal” before you were diagnosed with MS.

Then we have a yellow light - which I think is a light that many of us living with MS are stuck in the majority of the time. We are experiencing symptoms on a more "moderate" level. This is where we are impaired with our daily living. We're having to adjust/rearrange and/or compensate in certain ways that day, depending on the severity of the symptom that is bothering us - but also on what certain symptom it is; Or if it's multiple.

I think, for me, a yellow light could explain my “normal” days with MS. I'm always aware that I'm experiencing some sort of symptom and having to compensate in some way to get through the day. I don't have days where I'm MS Symptom Free (and that includes medication side effects). But to me, this is by ‘normal’ day-to-day living with MS. I’ve become accustomed to living my life this way, and have made adjustments in my daily life to live my life the best way I can, with MS.

So, now we’re at the red lightI can explain this as being in an MS Flare-Up, or having a very very bad day, where getting out of bed is a struggle, well a bigger struggle than what it usually is. This is where you’re noticing that something is going on with your MS in a BIG way. You could have increased severity of your symptoms, new symptoms, etc. On a red light day, this is where you would explain that you believe your MS is ‘active’ at the moment, in other words, your lesions are inflamed, or your have new lesions happening.

When it comes to a time like this, you need the most support from those close to you. You also need to get into contact with your Neurologist… An MS Flare is defined as… “An MS relapse happens when new MS symptoms appear or old existing symptoms suddenly get worse in a patient who has been diagnosed with MS. To be considered a relapse, the new symptoms or worsening of symptoms must persist for at least 24 hours and it must have been at least 30 days since your previous relapse. A relapse may also be referred to as an attack, exacerbation, or flare-up..”1

So here is an image I made (I'm not known for my artistic skills, btw) – just to try and explain the MS Traffic Light analogy…

[caption id="attachment_4207" align="aligncenter" width="300"]MS Traffic Light by Ashley Ringstaff - MS Traffic Light by Ashley Ringstaff -[/caption]


I know how hard it is to explain things to those close to us, so by coming up with this "MS Traffic Light",  I'm trying to not only help all of us living with MS explain how we're 'feeling' that certain day, but it's also to help those close to us understand what it's like to live with MS, without having to go in to great detail every single time we're asked.

I hope that this blog helps you out when trying to explain how you're feeling, rather than answering "I'm Fine".


Ashley Ringstaff

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