Hello again, this time I want to discuss the ever looming "MS Flare". This is when symptoms go into overdrive and become very difficult to ignore. Most of the symptoms are ones that are not normally present in day-to-day life, or if they are are in a milder form.
I typically have a MS Flare in January/February. I believe it is something related to the weather or it may even be that there are more people sick around me. With MS my immunity can fluctuate & while I may never get your cold, I may still have the bug in my system bringing havoc in another way. There may not be a medical explanation of this, but it is what I observe for myself.
Many times, I can see some signs of a cold, but will not experience any real symptoms. For example, we are told that when we blow our noses to watch for a color change from clear to green or yellow as a sign of a cold. (I know. Gross. It will be worse in a minute) Well in the morning when I blow my nose, I will have instances where I see small crusts that have the colors of illness. I have had no stuffiness or drainage or any other symptoms of the common cold. This will continue for several days & then go away. Now, I have begun to believe that my body has bigger issues and this small infection, while present, doesn't ever become a cold.
If I am in this state or if I am feeling extra tired or sleeping more then I will limit my exposure to sick people. I can't do anything about my family, except wash my hands, etc., but I do the best I can in these situations. If I am feeling "in my bones" or "in my gut" that I should avoid it, I do. If I feel a MS Flare coming on & have been exposed, sometimes I have noticed an increase in symptoms of MS. Maybe not a full on flare, but a definite period of needing to "sleep it off".
For the last couple of weeks, I have noticed little symptoms coming out in a small way. I have had my hand shake(tremor), or I lose my grip & drop things. I have had instances of the "drunk walk" and losing my balance. When this happens the "drunk walk" causes me to start veering sideways when I want to go straight. The balance will be me turning around & needing to grab something to steady myself. Some moments of light-headedness & my legs have been jerking when I lie down. My swallowing issues are more often and some blurry/double vision. Again, not enough to call the neuro because it is very mild, but noticeable.
Friends & Family will ask how I am and if I reply that I might be "feeling a flare coming" they tell me I need to take care of myself. I tell them "I'm working on it" & "I am". I thought about this over the weekend & asked myself what that really means, "I'm working on it"? My answer was I make sure to go to bed early, when I can. I put my feet up more often, try to avoid stressful situations. I drink more water and, honestly, hope & pray. That really is the big one "Hope & Pray". I work on that one alot.
That got me to thinking more and wondered, "What do I really expect I can do beyond that?" I mean MS is not curable, so it's not like I am missing some magic quick fix to help me avoid a MS Flare. I am doing all that I can do in my mind. I decided to take it a step further and think back to my last MS Flares and what came before them. I realized during my last 2 flares I had both a urinary tract infection (UTI) & a yeast infection ("girl" infection). Both had virtually no symptoms to alert me and I didn't know about them until I was deep into the flare. This got me to thinking, if I can't prevent the MS Flare, truly, what if I tried to hold off & avoid the UTI and the "Girl" stuff?
One of my medications, maybe more, cause me to have dry mouth. Very dry mouth. I try to drink my water, but it isn't a priority I always follow. There are commercials now that address this issue and how it can cause dental problems and other mouth issues. I thought about this & am assuming that being dry could be an issue in other female areas as well (By the way, I am in no way afraid of these words, vagina & yeast infection, but I know some are so I am trying to limit it with the idea of being respectful). Back to the dry body parts. I wondered if this could be causing the infections as well? I'm sure it doesn't help.
My new plan is to take steps to prevent these issues, and in turn, maybe avoid an MS Flare. It's worth a shot, right? So, I bought an over the counter med for the girl stuff. So far I am better with that because I was noticing some symptoms for that. I also bought the plain, organic straight cranberry juice. It was $6 for this 32 oz bottle & that was ON SALE! I didn't want to mess around though. Since I was having symptoms of the girl stuff I figure the UTI isn't far behind. So I bought it anyway. Let me tell you, I found out why they add the sugar. OMG! It was TERRIBLE! I am still drinking it though & am treating it as "medicine". I am only drinking 2-4 oz a day until it's gone. We shall see if it works or not.
After the yucky cranberry juice is gone, I am switching to the Ocean Spray kind. I know it isn't as good as the straight stuff, but I am doing this in the spirit of prevention and not to wipe out an infection. I headed to the juice aisle to read labels. Ocean Spray has 4 different versions of their plain cranberry juice: "Traditional" (that's my name for it), "Light", "Diet" & "100% Juice". I started reading the "Diet" one: it was packed with chemicals like diet pop, so I wanted to avoid those. Next, onto the "Light" one: it had only some chemicals & some sugar. Third was the "100% Juice" one: It's 100% juice alright, but they used 3 other types of juices to sweeten it. Last was the "Traditional": It had 27% Cranberry Juice, filtered water, cane or beet sugar & Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). I chose the "Traditional" one. I thought my goal is for the cranberry juice to help me & I don't need other juices fighting against it. Plus, only water, sugar & vitamin c? I think this is a good option. Right or wrong, I am going to try it.
In addition to that, I am adding a serving of yogurt everyday to help with the girl stuff. I already start my day with McDonald's yogurt parfait, but I thought I would add another serving. Besides, calcium is good for my bones & steroids eat those up. Win, win, right? I will see. I also am increasing my water by keeping a glass full at all times on the kitchen counter or near me. I like the counter because when I walk by, I see it and remember to drink it. I guzzle it down & refill it for next time. This has to be when I am home or know I will have access to a bathroom, otherwise I won't be drinking as much.
I still believe in the "My MS Yoga" for stretching my muscles out and increasing my flexibility. My goal is to do that 3 times a week. I remember how good I felt when I was practicing it daily & it was worth it for me. I also want to add in my physical therapy routine again. My PT taught me balance exercises & routines to increase my strength. I had never felt better when I stopped going to the PT center in July. I want that back.
Well, there you have it. My goal to get this water off my brain and drain my bladder in the hopes of holding off, minimizing or preventing an MS Flare all together. Will I be successful? Only time will tell. You all know that I never give up and most of the time I will be smiling as I go. Even if this attempt fails, it won't matter to me. MS is out of my control. The one thing I can control is how I react to it. My attitude and my outlook are completely in my own hands. I will look for my silver lining. I will find my smile. I will find the good in all I do. I have so many blessings in my life & I plan to enjoy each & every one!