Living Strong With MS
- Kayla Moreno thought her lingering tingling and fatigue was from exercising, but they were symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
- Multiple sclerosis is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord.
- The disease causes the immune system to attack cells that form the protective sheath that covers nerve fibers in the spinal cord.
- Approximately 400,000 people are currently living with multiple sclerosis in the United States.
- There is no cure for MS, but MS warriors battling the disease do have methods to manage their symptoms.
- Moreno shows how a strong positive attitude can help you cope with a disease or other health challenge.
The Hawaii-native shered her multiple sclerosis journey with U.K. media outlet The Mirror in honor of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month to help her fellow MS warriors remain positive while battling the disease.Read More
“MS is life-changing and absolutely terrifying, but a positive attitude will get you a long way,” Moreno said.
Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
Multiple sclerosis is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. The disease causes the immune system to attack cells that form the protective sheath that covers nerve fibers in the spinal cord. The disruption leads to communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.
Once the protective barrier is damaged, the spinal cord struggles to send messages to arms, legs, and other parts of the body to function normally.
Approximately 400,000 people are currently living with multiple sclerosis in the United States, notably including actresses Selma Blair and Christina Applegate, both of whom have been open about their MS diagnoses and how the disease has affected their lives.
The Different Types of Multiple Sclerosis
- Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS): This is when an individual experiences a single neurological episode lasting 24 hours or less. CIS is what MS is diagnosed as until there is a second episode.
- Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS): The most common MS among the million people battling the disease in the US, RRMS is marked by sudden flare-ups, new symptoms, or worsening of symptoms and cognitive function. The condition will then go into remission for some time before reemerging with no known warning signs.
- Primary progressive MS (PPMS): These individuals have no flare-ups or remission, just a steady decline with progressively worse symptoms and an increasing loss of cognitive ad body functions.
Secondary progressive MS (SPMS): This is an almost transitional form of MS that progresses from RRMS to PPMS.
What Are Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms?
Moreno’s symptoms were typical of multiple sclerosis, as she felt tingling and fatigue. However, her active lifestyle led her to confused those symptoms for common muscle fatigue.
Mayo Clinic says common MS symptoms may include:
- Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occurs on one side of your body at a time
- Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward (Lhermitte sign)
- Lack of coordination
- Unsteady gait or inability to walk
- Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement
- Prolonged double vision
- Blurry vision
- Problems with sexual, bowel and bladder function
- Slurred speech
- Cognitive problems
- Mood disturbances
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How Is Multiple Sclerosis Treated?
There is no cure for MS, but MS warriors battling the disease do have methods to manage their symptoms.
Chemotherapy is an option for treatment to manage symptoms, because chemo drugs can kill cells that break down the nervous system, slowing down or stopping the disease. It’s a method actress Selma Blair used on her MS journey.
Blair was diagnosed with MS in 2018. She shared a photo on her Instagram post-chemotherapy of her hair regrowth after losing it during treatment, a common side effect of chemotherapy.
“A large amount of our chemotherapies do cause hair loss, not all of them,” Vivian Rusziewicz, a Nurse Practitioner for Ohio Health told SurvivorNet.
Blair also had a stem cell transplant to help manage her symptoms.
A stem cell transplant – also called a “bone marrow transplant” – is a treatment used for some cancers and diseases, and it replaces bone marrow with healthy cells.
A side effect of stem cell transplant is that it wipes out the immune system, meaning the MS warrior is more vulnerable to infections, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. As a result, this kind of treatment requires staying away from people and avoiding certain foods that could make you sick.
Many MS warriors use items like wheelchairs, canes, leg braces and others tools to get around. Moreno uses a walking aid or wheelchair to help due to muscle weakness.
A study in American Family Physician found medical treatments called disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) “has been shown to slow disease progression and disability; options include injectable agents, infusions, and oral medications targeting different sites in the inflammatory pathway.”
DMTs help stave off attacks of the disease and prevent relapses, which are triggered when the central nervous system becomes inflamed.
Moreno said she takes Ocrevus (generic name Ocrelizumab), an FDA-approved drug that helps “relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis in adults, which include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease (RRMS) and active secondary progressive disease (SPMS with relapses),” according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Despite her ongoing prognosis and managing her symptoms, Moreno is determined to be a strong MS warrior.
“This is lifelong – and sadly there is no cure. But I’m finding my symptoms a bit more manageable with my medications,” Moreno said.
She hopes by sharing her story on her TikTok channel during Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month that other MS warriors on their journeys are motivated to keep fighting and not let the disease stop them from living their best life.
“I don’t let my MS stop me from living life to the fullest,” she said proudly.
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