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MS Awareness: Your Support Matters

Blog Summary

March is multiple sclerosis awareness month. Well, on the calendar it is.
 
But this past March, the world has been occupied with COVID-19. So, naturally and rightly so, our attention and efforts have shifted to keeping ourselves, our families, our communities and the world safe. Life has gotten insurmountably scarier for those of us who are medically compromised, and I imagine it's intimidating for many others as well. I won't attempt to compare COVID-19 and multiple sclerosis. However, the same empathy, compassion and support we desire for the MS community should be extended to people and families impacted by COVID-19. While we continue to support each other, I'm confident that our amazing medical professionals and government will get a handle on this crisis and life will prevail...

Questions to Ask Your Neurologist About Your MS

Blog Summary

You’ve just been diagnosed with MS. You’ve heard about the disease (“OMG, I’m going to be in a wheelchair”). You’ve heard something about the medications that are now available for MS, but know little about them. You’ve seen other people with MS, but how does their course relate to yours? What can you do to prevent disability? These and many other questions crowd in on you, and it all seems overwhelming. You need to spend more time with your neurologist or nurse specialist, but don’t know where to start. Hopefully the following questions to ask will be a guide for you...

Finally Diagnosed

Blog Summary

I had the first MS symptom in 2007 while I was in college and just finished my last class. Suddenly, there was severe tingling and numbness in my whole left upper limb. I thought it could be a result of strenuous day. Everyone left the classroom, and I was trying to release my hand. But it was not releasing. Two of my friends came back after noticing me not coming. We went to the hospital.  In the emergency ward, basic tests were done. I could sense that my heart was beating very fast. It was about 6 p.m.. The senior doctor arrived and checked me. He suggested an immediate X-ray and the results came back normal. So, he referred me to orthopaedic doctor. The next day, the orthopaedic doctor suggested I get an MRI of my cervical spine. He suspected I had thoracic outlet syndrome. But when my reports came normal, I went on to hear more suspected illnesses that could be causing my odd symptoms: nerve impingement, peroneal nerve injury or palsy. My tingling and numbness subsided before any nerve conduction tests were done, and my other symptoms like blurred vision, just went away.

Ready, Set, MS: My Sudden and Not-So-Surprising Diagnosis

Blog Summary

I specifically remember driving away from work on a Friday afternoon feeling like I had somehow hit my elbow and it was tingling. "Weird," I thought, as I shrugged it off. I was headed to one of the last Anaheim Ducks games of the season, and I was so excited. It was late March and a group of friends and I were going to watch from a suite, which would make it a memorable night for more than one reason.   I woke up to a beautiful sunny, lazy Saturday morning to take my dog, Cooper, out for a walk. I noticed that the same feeling in my elbow from the day before seemed to have migrated to both hands. As we walked around the community, the same sensation seemed to radiate up my legs from my feet, leaving me feeling a bit unsteady. I jumped in the shower, and the numbness and tingling seemed to wrap around my entire torso. Immediately, my inner monologue shouted: MS...

What to Do If Follow-Up MRIs Show New Lesions

Blog Summary

You’ve been diagnosed with MS and started on a disease-modifying therapy. At a follow-up visit, your neurologist asks that you do another series of central nervous system MRIs. You ask, “Why? Is it really necessary? What would you do if there were new lesions?” These questions are excellent and reasonable. The answers however, are not straightforward. There is no cure for MS at this time. That said, starting a disease-modifying therapy is most important. Responses to disease-modifying therapies vary greatly. In some individuals, the response is excellent, with no evidence of recurring disease. In others, new lesions and even attacks may occur despite treatment. Not every new lesion is associated with an attack, and new lesions can gradually accumulate silently with no immediate change in course. However, increasing tissue damage may result in increasing disability over time. Thus, monitoring your central nervous system with MRIs after starting a disease-modifying therapy is essential to determine your response to treatment...

A Double-Edged Sword

Blog Summary

“Do I really have to have another brain MRI? It’s really very expensive, and I don’t know if it’s safe?”   These are totally understandable concerns. Being placed into a narrow, noisy tube for what seems like forever is certainly unpleasant. However, understanding the role of central nervous system MRIs in diagnosing and managing the treatment of MS may make the experience somewhat more tolerable.

Ready, Set, MS: My Sudden and Not-So-Surprising Diagnosis

Blog Summary

I specifically remember driving away from work on a Friday afternoon feeling like I had somehow hit my elbow and it was tingling. "Weird," I thought, as I shrugged it off. I was headed to one of the last Anaheim Ducks games of the season, and I was so excited. It was late March, and a group of friends and I were going to watch from a suite, which would make it a memorable night for more than one reason.   I woke up to a beautiful sunny, lazy Saturday morning to take my dog, Cooper, out for a walk. I noticed that the same feeling in my elbow from the day before seemed to have migrated to both hands. As we walked around the community, the same sensation seemed to radiate up my legs from my feet, leaving me feeling a bit unsteady. I jumped in the shower, and the numbness and tingling seemed to wrap around my entire torso. Immediately, my inner monologue shouted: MS...

Making a Diagnosis of MS

Blog Summary

There is no avoiding it. Seeing a neurologist for evaluation of a diagnosis of MS can be very stressful. However, understanding what is needed to make a diagnosis may, at least in part, ease some of the anxiety.   Even with all the latest electronic and laboratory studies, an MS diagnosis is still one of exclusion. Unlike a positive biopsy for cancer, there is no single finding on history, exam, or diagnostic study that is unique, or only found, in persons with MS. Thus, making a diagnosis of MS remains one of excluding other diseases that can mimic MS. While this may seem easy, a recent paper from two MS centers reported that 1 out of 5 persons sent to the centers with a diagnosis of MS did not have this disease.1 More than 100 MS “look-alikes” have been described, but most are very rare, and only the most common ones are usually looked for. These include illnesses such as diabetes mellitus, lupus, Sjøgren’s disease, migraine with aura, high blood pressure, brain tumors, blood vessel inflammations and infections...

Seeing the World Through Different Eyes

Blog Summary

Everything was just a tad off focus– like I couldn’t get my eyes to look forward no matter how hard I tried. I asked my mom for advice, not thinking anything of it. She figured it was allergies, gave me an Allegra and sent me on my way after I convinced her I didn’t need to see a doctor; I felt better after that. My eyes returned to normal, life went on. I left for college two days later. Turns out, I wasn’t fine and things did not go back to normal. About a week into my sophomore year, I woke up one morning and had no control over my left arm. I found this out when I went to put my contact lenses in the morning of my first day of work, at my first real job, and my hand shot right past my face. I thought it was weird, but assumed I was just tired or having a “me moment.” So, off to work I went...

MS: The Third Wheel in Our Marriage

Blog Summary

As I helped my husband, Norm, out of bed, I couldn’t help but think to myself: how did we get here?   It’s hard to even remember the people we were when we first meet in 2006. They seem like completely different people from a completely different time. A time when motorcycles, weekends filled with friends and family and simplicity moved our world...

Lessons Learned as a Doctor Turned Patient

Blog Summary

As a family doctor and self-proclaimed health nut, I thought I’d never get sick. Although I saw patients every day with unexpected illness, with the right combination of a vegetarian diet + obsessive hand-washing + exercise + adequate sleep, I thought I would live to be 100. I knew the secret ingredients, the formula, for avoiding chronic disease.And then, nine years ago, I woke up dizzy. I thought I was getting a cold that would pass in a few days. But instead of a sore throat and cough, I developed double vision and taste changes...