Experiencing and Differentiating between MS and other Complications

  • Both Julie and Adrian wrote posts last week sharing how - “it’s not always MS” - which got me to thinking.... always a dangerous thing. 


    Yep, just because you have multiple sclerosis doesn't mean that you are disqualified from experiencing the full range of other health issues, physical, emotional, financial, social, etc. It's just that those other issues might affect you more greatly when you live with MS.


    I've been anemic before.  Not MS.  I’ve got a stingy thyroid gland.  Not MS.  The slight deformity on two fingers caused by rheumatoid arthritis.  Not MS.  Severe nearsightedness.  Not MS.  Overwhelming need for naps in the early afternoon.  Well, that is MS.

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    The newest health issue on my smorgasbord is a severe Vitamin D deficiency.  What I mean by severe is a serum level coming in at 7.8 ng/mL when the normal range is 32-100 ng/mL and above 50 ng/mL is preferable.  The approach we (my PCP and I) are taking to correct this deficiency may seem extreme to some, but it is what my body needs right now.


    I was discussing my Vitamin D deficiency with a woman online who has MS, is a nurse, and even an MS-certified nurse at that.  Her response to my treatment was frustrating to me, and a bit insulting. Part of her contribution to the discussion was to give fearful warnings and ask if I had seen an endocrinologist for an expert opinion.


    To be honest, I've got the neurologist, the rheumatologist, the psychiatrist, the opthamologist, the podiatrist, and the PCP who actually listens to me. Each is wonderful about communicating to the others by sending written reports to each other after I’ve visited. One time the rheumatologist even knew that my neurologist had given me samples of Provigil during the previous visit. I think my back is covered and I don’t need another specialist.


    I may not know if a specific complaint is caused by MS or not, but 

    I can certainly discuss my concerns with the members of my health care team.  If I mention a new concern to the rheumatologist, she will let me know if it’s something we should address together or if it’s something the neurologist or PCP should help me with.

    But that doesn't mean that I can't be my own advocate, learn as much as I can about how the body functions (or doesn’t), and become more in tune with my body so that I can more clearly express my concerns.  MS is so ripe with unknowns and elusive symptoms that it’s hard to distinguish between MS vs. Not MS.


    The mantra of my MS nurse - "Not everything is due to MS."


    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

Published On: September 30, 2008