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  • How prone am I to MS? What should I be aware of?

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    Old 09-05-2016, 08:18 AM   #1
    Mufisto
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    How prone am I to MS? What should I be aware of?

    Hey forum,

    New here, first post. I have read some posts on here before but I'm usually pretty mellow about my health.
    That was until this week. By admission I don't live a terribly healthy life. 21 years old and in college, which means I stay up way too late and I live on caffeine. In the last year I've take up the gym and Muay Thai so I'm moderately active, but regular nights of 5 hours sleep and constant energy drinks means I couldn't justifiably call myself healthy.

    My concern is related to MS. My father was diagnosed with it in his mid 30s. Though his symptoms aren't extreme (He can still walk with the aid of a cane) he has a lot of fine motor skills problems. Also he has pretty acute memory trouble and depression as a result of being unable to work. I know it is said that MS isn't officially hereditary, but I've read of multiple instances of whole generations of some families being diagnosed. So I'm aware I'm at heightened risk.

    Lately I've noticed instances where I'll slur my speech. I've always mumbled when speaking, but once or twice a month for the last while I'll accidentally reverse the order of 2 words, or just run a few words together into a big mesh. It's really odd when it happens. Very infrequently too I'll have a leg spasms. Although they always seem to coincide with when I'm starting to doze off at my desk in work (I'm on a 6 month internship, don't tell my supervisor!). Finally, this one is hard to tell if it's even a symptom but I think I've been having cognition problems. I don't know if it's laziness but I often just don't want to concentrate, and will have to make an effort to focus. It feels like I have to make an effort to concentrate, I usually prefer to just let my mind wander and think of video games or history or other things that interest me. But when I need to sit down and work out the logic to a program (I'm studying computer science) I have to make a conscious effort to think them through. Nothing ever seems to stick naturally too. Weird example, I've read lot's about the Hun's invasion of Rome, but the date of when it happened I couldn't possibly guess as I'm writing this (140AD ?). What I'm trying to say with that is, I'll read something like that, but the details are never retained, where as my brother can retain all that sort of stuff. I don;t really have issue recalling events, but I just don't retain details.

    I feel like a lot of these symptoms can be explained by what I previously mentioned, lack of sleep, over caffeination, or maybe even just laziness. It was really just the slurred words that freaked me out. And the fact that my father has MS, I would just like some advice on how to proceed. I don't recall ever having the more acute symptoms associated with MS. No tingling/numbness/balance or dexterity issues/extreme fatigue (I'm tired a lot but I think that's related to the other thing). My eyesight has been deteriorating, but I spend a lot of time at the computer, and has never given me double vision or anything weird, just shortsightedness.

    One positive is I had an MRI about 2 months back with an issue related to my pituitary glad (no issue found) and there was no mention of lesions, which I know is a way to check for MS.

    Anyway, thanks for reading, any feedback is appreciated!

    Last edited by Mufisto; 09-05-2016 at 08:21 AM.

     
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    Old 09-05-2016, 08:55 AM   #2
    MSJayhawk
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    Re: How prone am I to MS? What should I be aware of?

    Mufisto,

    Welcome.

    There are families which seem predisposed towards autoimmune disorders, among which MS is included. Your family medical history over several generations might provide this insight. If your father has MS, it places no greater risk to you than any other person. The greatest known risk of MS is if you have a blood sibling with MS. Even this statistic, while higher than "normal" is still statistically insignificant.

    Based upon that which you shared, energy drinks, lack of sleep, etc can have a cumulative effect and manifest with different symptoms. For me, while I have MS, when I have mental exhaustion, my slurred or stuttering speech are indicators that I need some time to rest my mind. While I am not telling you this is MS for you, it may well be a result of mental exhaustion and indicate a need for a healthier lifestyle.
    Energy drinks can give you a rush and then you drop into exhaustion. This could be what is manifesting as falling asleep at the desk.

    Unfortunately there are no specific tests for MS. Stress and anxiety as well as Vitamin D deficiency are leading MS mimicries.

    I would encourage you to give yourself a lifestyle of 7 - 8 hours sleep without any electronics nearby or the lights from any electronics nearby. Your body should start to show improvements.

    As to your dad, I really can understand what he is experiencing. I finally had to stop working in 2002 when my MS finally disabled me. Rather than waiting about, I did other things. Your dad can get disability and volunteer his time in varying capacities. If he is not too bad, he might consider re-training too.

    Active body and active mind (cognitive exercises) can benefit the MSer greatly. I would also encourage you to show your dad this website as he might further benefit from the anonymity while sharing his concerns. Talking things out can help too.

    As for your situation, let not your heart be troubled. It sounds like a few minor adjustments in your lifestyle and you should be on the right road again. IF things change, seek out an MS Specialist. If you live near your dad or with your dad, his MS Specialist might benefit you too.

    Thanks for sharing.
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    Old 09-05-2016, 09:29 AM   #3
    Mufisto
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    Re: How prone am I to MS? What should I be aware of?

    Hi MSJayhawk,

    Thanks so much for the warm welcome. I'm sad to hear that you had to give up work too. My father had a hard choice upon his diagnosis. He was offered indefinite paid medical leave, or he could continue working, but risk losing his job at a future point if the disease became too debilitating. So he was forced to take the medical leave and give up work. But we recognize that that we were extremely lucky that he would still receive an income. He enjoyed work and giving i up so early did lead to some emotional problems though. I actually recall the night when he explained his diagnosis to me when I was about 4.

    Also, thank you for your encouraging words. I'm aware that everyone needs to be concerned about MS, and I will stay on the lookout for symptoms for the rest of my life. Many people can get through life barely aware of what MS even is. It was just recently on reflection when I slurred my words that I became concerned that my life might be following a similar path that my dad's had. Slurring words really is a strange experience, when what you're thinking doesn't come out. Thinking about it, most occasions when it occurs are late at night. Although unrelated, my grandmother has Altschmerz, and after witnessing that any disease that can affect the brain terrifies me, even in less profound ways like MS.
    More sleep is a must.

    I have calmed down now to a more rational state thanks to your post. Even just typing out your thoughts can hep you look at them more objectively.

    Any more input is always welcome too.

     
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    Old 09-05-2016, 10:26 AM   #4
    MSJayhawk
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    Re: How prone am I to MS? What should I be aware of?

    Mufisto,

    Vigilance is good so long as it does not control our life. If the slurred speech continues, further investigation would be prudent to make sure nothing else is at work.

    Long term, if you track your symptoms, MS symptoms are usually those which persist for 24+ hours from onset. While this does not confirm MS, those are the symptoms which be most notable. Those symptoms, while they persist, may wax and wane in intensity. I do not allow myself to push ahead further when my speech stutters or slurs. If I push forward there is a cascade of additional symptoms which present in me and my recovery time increases exponentially.

    It is important to note, too, that if you were to develop MS in your lifetime, your course of MS would more than likely differ from your father's.

    Whenever you have a question or concern arise, please feel free to ask. We are happy to share our own personal experiences. Indeed, it can be quite therapeutic to write out your thoughts. Stress and anxiety can accumulate and easily mimic MS. Avoid stress and anxiety. If these are issues with which you need help, please ask your doctor for assistance. Exercise is a great tool as is oral counseling. Some people also require medication. Some people do well with a balance of all three. A neuro-psychiatrist is an excellent choice to assist you in such an evaluation.
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