Am I Having an MS Relapse?

Am I Having an MS Relapse?
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As I sit down to write this week’s column, it’s hard for me to concentrate. I’d planned to write about new MS mobile apps, but I can’t get my brain to focus on the task.

I’ve been bragging about how I’ve been feeling sharper and able to concentrate better the past several months, but not today. As my friend Debi Wilson wrote a few years ago, “Thinking has become my second job.” Distractions currently are more distracting than usual.

The past two days, my legs have felt weaker than usual when I get out of bed in the morning, even though I’ve had a pretty good sleep each night. I’ve been feeling tired, too. Right now, in fact, I feel like dozing off. Fatigue and MS go together like beer and a burger, or fish and chips for my U.K. pals. I’m always a little tired, but I had been feeling less tired lately, until a few days ago.

Definition of a relapse

An MS relapse, also called a flare or an exacerbation, has a specific definition. It requires that the symptoms, old or new, must last at least a day. There must be no other reason for the attack, such as an infection or stress, and the new attack must be separated from a previous one by at least 30 days. It can be mild or seriously debilitating.

My last exacerbation was long ago — I think it occurred during the second Gulf War. I was treated with Solu-Medrol (methylprednisolone), an IV steroid, early in the morning as an outpatient so that I could spend the rest of the day at work. I guess I had about a half-dozen exacerbations over the first 15 years of my MS, but none since about 1995. That was when I started treatment with a disease-modifying therapy.

I’ve been treated with Avonex, Tysabri, Aubagio, and Lemtrada. I think each has helped slow the progression of my MS, and I’ve written about some of them in several “MS Wire” columns.

Maybe it’s a pseudo-relapse

I’m hoping my symptoms are just a pseudo-relapse. In a pseudo-relapse, no new neurological inflammation occurs, but old symptoms are re-triggered temporarily. This could be caused by stress or heat, and I’ve had plenty of both recently. Or, maybe I’m just suffering from a lack of exercise.

I’d really hate it if after all these years I regressed into a genuine exacerbation. But life can be like that with an unpredictable illness like MS. If that’s the case, I’ll deal with it.

Meanwhile, I’m going to do what I’ve wanted to do since I began writing this column this morning: take a nap.

***

Update from the following day: I woke up feeling strong and alert. Chalk this one up as a pseudo-relapse.

You’re invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.

***

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Ed Tobias is a retired broadcast journalist. Most of his 40+ year career was spent as a manager with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. Tobias was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980 but he continued to work, full-time, meeting interesting people and traveling to interesting places, until retiring at the end of 2012.
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Ed Tobias is a retired broadcast journalist. Most of his 40+ year career was spent as a manager with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. Tobias was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980 but he continued to work, full-time, meeting interesting people and traveling to interesting places, until retiring at the end of 2012.

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8 comments

  1. Kathleen Fulghum says:

    Stay safe and well, Ed. Your posts are wonderful and timely and very much appreciated! Thank you so much.

    • Ed Tobias says:

      Thanks, Kathleen. I thrive on the comments left by the people who read what I write. I’m glad you like it and hope that it makes living with MS a little easier for you.

      Regards,

      Ed

  2. Ruth Hoham says:

    I think I have experienced a “pseudo” in the form of increasing vertigo – comes and goes – I never experienced a flare. I’m blaming it on stress – who is not experiencing that these days!
    Ruth

  3. Heather Chesterman says:

    thanks for the much needed post that you have posted about having a relapse (or not). I’ve been feeling just like that myself the last couple of days. So thank you for that info.
    I’ve had RRMS for about 25 years and it does have it’s ups and downs.
    Take care and keep on going strong.
    stay safe.

    • Ed Tobias says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Heather. We all know what a roller coaster ride MS can be. I’m fortunate that, after nearly 40 years of living with this disease, I’m doing relatively well. I hope the same for you.

      Ed

  4. Debi says:

    Hi Ed,
    Another great column, I’m glad you’re feeling better!
    Thank-you for linking my articles, I am honored.
    Stay safe, Debi

    • Ed Tobias says:

      Hi Debi,

      It’s always great to hear from you. Your description of thinking being a second job was perfect for what I wanted to describe. So, I took the liberty of appropriating it.

      Hope you’re doing, and feeling, well.

      Ed

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