Is It or Is It Not MS Related?
Last updated: February 2023
The fun of MS is wondering all the time if this is MS related, or do I just not feel well, or could this chest pressure be my heart, or the MS HUG? We have all been there; should we be worried about this, or it’s just another one of those what-if days?
I have for sure been there and thought that more times than I care to remember. What makes it challenging for me, I’m sure for some of you as well, is the years of sports injuries and health issues. It sure throws an additional question in your mind: “is it MS or injury, or health-related?”
So how do you know or hope you know?
Oh, a good question of which I can only share my perspective, or should I say the speculative idea of what this is. Having several injuries and health issues that could cause similar MS-type symptoms, I’ll share so you understand my puzzled mind. Well, since I care about you, grab a cup of coffee, snack and anything else you feel will make you comfortable since this might take a while.
As mentioned, I have had several surgeries and sports injuries that could mimic MS flares, pain, or in my case a worsening of symptoms. When it comes to that fun MS hug, tightness in your chest, I at times wonder is this my Afib or not? Makes you pay close attention to where the pain, pressure, and intensity is.
Making me wonder
Then there is the fun MS joint pain and stiffness in my knees, ankles, neck, and back. The difference for me is the arthritis intensity changes during the day. The MS pain I have felt is very intense, spreads across my body, and remains for days or weeks. I haven’t found an over-the-counter medication that works, nor do pain prescriptions. I know your pain is different from my pain, as well as how it comes and goes. The way I have found to handle the pain is the good old out-of-site out of mind, or mind over matter. I have become fairly good at blocking the pain out of my mind.
Of course, there is the fun cognitive, forgetfulness, or a bit of that confusion (“what am I doing?”). Yes, it happens to me and I know you might think, "What, and you're writing articles?" Yep, and I’ll admit sometimes it’s easy, and other times not so much. I have enjoyed those moments of walking in a room wondering “why,” or a conversation and can’t remember what we are discussing or again, "Why?"
These are the most challenging areas that make me wonder: are these normal MS symptoms or something else? Let’s now look at the growing list of MS symptoms.
Invisible and visible symptoms
The most common physical MS symptoms I deal with include:
- Bladder dysfunction
- Bowel issues
- Mobility/walking issues
- Speech difficulties
My common invisible symptoms consist of:
- Sleep issues
The strangest is Uhthoff's, which causes my vision to become very blurry or I lose my vision and see only colors, structure, or people’s shapes with no details at all. I can stand next to someone I know and would not be able to describe their facial details or even realize they are there.
As you can see and I’m sure you know, the list of symptoms continues to grow and will the more we learn about MS.
Finishing with a story
I read a story regarding an individual with MS who wouldn’t give in to the poor balance, vision, and fatigue. He was determined to contribute and signed up to fundraise for a children’s hospital on a three-day bike ride.
Day one went well. On day two, with his poor vision, he hit a nail and the tire went flat. He went head over heels with a big splash into the river. He thanked those who helped him out and mentioned he was getting hot and thought a swim would cool him off with a smile and a laugh.
Thanks again for taking time out of your day to read the article. I look forward to hearing from you and sharing your stories of our MS adventures. I encourage everyone to take a moment and spread a little kindness to make someone’s day memorable. You never know, you just might change their outlook.
What does advocacy mean to you as someone living with multiple sclerosis? Please select all that apply: