I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and news related to MS. Hopefully, I can shed an optimistic light on MS even though it is difficult to be an optimist living with MS.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pregnancy & MS

Well, life has been pretty overwhelming lately.  I am now into my 6th month of my pregnancy and although I am very excited to welcome my baby boy into the world, I am definitely not ready/prepared.  Good thing we have 3 more months!  My husband and I are trying to get our basement finished before our little one arrives because right now we don't have an empty room for the nursery.  Due to my "condition," I have not been much help in the basement project.  I feel a little helpless, but I am trying to help in any way that I can.  Unfortunately, this pregnancy (or this pregnancy plus my MS) have me pretty tired!  I seem to make it through the work day ok, but when I get home, all I want to do is sit and/or sleep.  I know that my body is working really hard and it is normal to be tired, but we have SO much to do and SO much going on right now that being tired is not really an option right now during daylight hours.  I have been going to sleep around 9pm each night which helps, but the problem is I feel ready for bed around 7pm (some days even earlier).  Anyway, I just wish I had a little more energy to get everything done that needs to be done.

Speaking of pregnancy, this article was in my last emailer from MSF:
Pregnancy May Cut Risk of Developing MS
New research suggests that pregnancy may decrease women's risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
In an Australian study of 282 people with MS symptoms, having one pregnancy was associated with nearly halving the risk of developing MS symptoms compared to those who were never pregnant. Risk decreased even more with additional pregnancies, according to the study.
Study author Anne-Louise Ponsonby, head of the environmental and genetic epidemiology and research group at Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and her research team reported they found an association between pregnancy and a lower risk of MS symptoms, not a direct cause-and-effect link.
Previous research has found that pregnancy in women who already have MS is linked with lower rates of relapse. The researchers say this association may help explain why the incidence of MS in women has inched up over the past few decades, as more women delay pregnancy or have fewer babies or none at all.
“In our study, the risk went down with each pregnancy and the benefit was permanent,” said Ponsonby.
Researchers reviewed information about 282 Australian men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 who had a first diagnosis of central nervous system demyelination, which means they had their first symptoms similar to MS but had not yet been diagnosed with the disease. They were compared to 542 men and women with no MS symptoms. For women, the number of pregnancies lasting at least 20 weeks and the number of live births were recorded. For men, the number of children born was recorded.
The study found that women who were pregnant two or more times had a quarter of the risk of developing MS symptoms and women who had five or more pregnancies had one-twentieth the risk of developing symptoms than women who were never pregnant. There was no association between the amount of children and risk of MS symptoms in men.
“The rate of MS cases has been increasing in women over the last few decades, and our research suggests that this may be due to mothers having children later in life and having fewer children than they have in past years,” said Ponsonby.
The researchers couldn't say exactly why pregnancy may lower MS risk, but they speculated it could be the increase in estrogen during pregnancy or the effect pregnancy has on inflammatory genes involved in MS.
The information may lead to future studies looking into hormonal treatment or other treatments that may alter the disease course.
The study was published online in the journal Neurology.
This article really made me wish that I had gotten pregnant earlier on in my life.  I am 28 now, will be 29 when this baby is born (god willing he doesn't come THAT early), and it would appear that had I gotten pregnant in my early 20s or even earlier, maybe I would have significantly decreased my risk of developing MS.  I guess there is no point in dwelling on what might have happened had I gotten pregnant earlier, but it does make me wonder if I ever would have been diagnosed had I had a baby earlier.  I wouldn't have been ready to be a mom in my early 20s, so really it is best that I didn't have a baby then, but sure would be nice to not have MS.  Makes me think of a Shel Siverstien poem called Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda:

All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin' in the sun,
Talkin' bout the things
They woulda-coulda-shoulda done...
But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little did.

 We all have woulda-coulda-shouldas, but we have to learn to live with the way things are (the "dids").  Don't get me wrong - I am very happy with the way my life has turned out.  I love my husband, my family, my job, my unborn baby boy, etc.  But who doesn't wonder and who doesn't wish certain aspects of their life was different?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

100th Post!

This is my 100th post!  What a milestone!

Last Saturday was my local Walk MS - we had a great turnout and I was, again, reminded of just how blessed I am.  My husband, my parents, my boss, 2 co-workers/friends, and a high school friend all walked with me!  In addition, my high school friend, who is now a high school teacher and coach brought her varsity softball team out to walk AND they made t-shirts for our team!  It was so great to have so many friends/family supporting me by walking beside me!  I am constantly amazed at the incredible people in my life!  I have such a great family, great co-workers, and great friends who are always so supportive; I am truly blessed!  Also, my sister made a HUGE donation this year helping me reach my lofty $3000 fundraising goal!  Even though she lives too far away to walk with me, she is always super supportive of my efforts!  I also had a number of other great friends donate, helping me reach my goal - I am always overwhelmed at all of the support I get.  Sometimes I probably don't seem a appreciative as I am.  I am always trying to get people involved and raise as much as I can, and sometimes I don't always realize how burdensome that can be.  But, when I really reflect, I could not ask for more supportive friends and family.  Thank you to all who walked and thank you to all who donated!  I was able to surpass my personal fundraising goal and I think we will surpass our team fundraising goal (the totals are not final yet, but I am very confident)!  It means so much to me to raise money for research.  As all of my friends, family, and readers know, the ultimate goal is to end MS - to find a cure!  And we can do that, I really believe that!  I just hope that the cure comes within my lifetime!

Thanks to all who have supported me in all of the ways that you have!