Those Pesty Never-Ending MS Symptoms

I can only imagine the thoughts racing through your mind thinking about all the pesty MS symptoms you deal with. Not to mention the severity, length of time, and type of symptom, all of which are so different depending on the type of MS you deal with.

Some folks think MS is MS and that we all deal with the same symptoms. Besides, how bad could it be? “You look so healthy,” they might say. Yep, you and I have all heard that statement too many times. I’ll share with you the symptoms that give me the biggest challenges and how I try to reduce the daily impact.

Challenging symptoms, and how I manage

As MS warriors, we know the type of MS can make a difference in how our symptoms impact our daily lives. As the medical world learns more about MS the list expands. But the basic four are clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting, secondary progressive, and primary progressive (PPMS), which I have.

The symptoms that cause the most difficulty for me are neuropathy, mobility, vision, bladder, leg weakness, and spasticity. The two symptoms which have the most impact on my day-to-day are my mobility and functionality, or loss of my bladder.

Mobility issues

Mobility issues and neuropathy in both feet are the combination that causes the most difficulty with just moving around. It has caused several falls to date. Luckily knowing how to fall has reduced the severity and outcome.

I also compensate by using a cane for balance, getting up slowly, and allowing my body to adjust before moving. While allowing my body to adjust, moving forward slowly a step at a time compensates for the neuropathy and lack of feeling in both feet. It does require paying close attention as I move around to avoid falls.

This or That

Do you experience mobility issues?

Vision issues

My vision is impacted by Uhthoff’s, which frankly is challenging and colorful at times. OK, I see that puzzled look for those of you who haven’t dealt with Uhthoff’s and a look of “yep” for those who have. The biggest factor is heat, which can cause vision to see a kaleidoscope of colors, just outlines of people and buildings. Staying cool using a cooling vest, ice neck wraps, and staying out of the sun directly can potentially help to reduce the impact.1

Funny Uhthoff’s story of mine was a trip to the mall with my wife. It was a hot summer day and while waiting for her, Uhthoff’s jumped in and my vision turned into colors and just outlines. While looking for her, she was five feet from me. I looked at her several times and had no clue where she was. Oh MS can sure make life interesting indeed.

This or That

Do you experience vision problems?

Leg weakness and spasticity

Leg weakness and spasticity are common for many of us with MS. There are two approaches I have used that will help reduce the symptoms; however, it doesn’t resolve the issue.

My approach for weakness includes exercise and taking the “walking drug,” as some call Ampyra. As for spasticity, I take magnesium tablets. They have helped reduce the events, although not eliminate it a hundred percent of the time. Physical therapy has helped as well.

This or That

Do you experience spasticity or muscle weakness?

Bladder issues

My biggest challenge to date is my nonfunctioning bladder. MS has damaged the nerves that send the signal from my spine to bladder muscles to relax and void. The test to help diagnose bladder issues is a urodynamic test. This specific test looks at the signals between your bladder, urinary sphincter, and urethra or urinary tract.2

My test concluded my best options are to continue catheterizing or consider the newer InterStim therapy. The implantable device sends electric impulses to reduce bladder control issues. The small device can last years, potentially up to 15 years in some cases.3,4

This or That

Do you experience bladder dysfunction?

Your turn

These are my pesty symptoms and how I have tried to cope with and limit the impact on my day-to-day life. I thank you for taking the time to read the article, and I hope my challenges help you deal with or consider the best approach for you.

What MS symptoms impact you the most?

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