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If you have MS, you must be really smart: The multiple definitions associated with multiple sclerosis.

Most sources agree that the definition of multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition, meaning that the body is attacking its own cells and tissues. That in itself is a huge amount of information, requiring some deep thinking in order to wrap the brain around such a definition.

Once we go beyond these very heavy words, we shouldn't need to enter a marathon to understand our disease.

When I was diagnosed in 2001 I had no idea what MS meant. I had herd of MD. Were they the same? And then there were more acronyms thrown at me. MRI, RRMS, SPMS, UTI, CCSVI, OT, ISC, AFO...and the list goes on and on. I wish some one had sat me down with a cheat sheet at the end of my first hospital stay. At least I would have had some type of reference tool for this journey that would continue for the rest of my life.

I have decided that God chose his MS Warriors carefully because we are super smart and we can handle the academic challenge.

There is no way I could offer a complete glossary of terms related to our disease, but I will share those that are most often vocalized. (I will even step to the head of the class and put them in alphabetical order!)

ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) is a hormone extracted from the pituitary glands of animals that is most often synthetically produced and is used to stimulate the human adrenal glands. this helps reduce inflammation and is often used to treat acute relapses.

AFO stands for ankle-foot orthosis. This is the fancy name given to a foot brace used for folks suffering from foot drop.

Ataxia is the term used for uncoordinated and/or unsteadiness that result from the rain's inability to regulate the body's posture, strength, direction of limb movement.

Autoimmune disease refers to the condition in which a body attacks its own healthy cells, organs, and tissues.

Babinksi reflex is what happens when you neurologist uses that weird looking hammer on the inside sole of your foot. If this causes an upward movement of the big toe, this is a sign of damage to the motor pathways in the brain or spinal cord.

CIS (Not to be confused with the popular crime show CSI) refers to t he first neurological episode  that lasts at least 24 hours, Clinically Isolated Syndrome produces MS-like symptoms.

Exacerbation (another fancy word) is the appearance of new or the aggravation of old symptoms probably caused by inflammation in the brain or spinal cord. Often referred to as an attack, flare-up, or episode. Call it whatever you like. It sucks the same no matter what the label.

Foot drop (hello, my friend) is the condition of weakness in the muscles of the foot and/or ankle caused by poor nerve conduction. With foot drop, the toes hit the ground prior to the heel, causing a fall or stumble. (Oh, I'm told this does not exist. No one went my right foot that  memo!)

FES (functional electrical stimulus) is a technique used to lower levels of electrical current that stimulate nerves and provide energy to limbs affected by many neurological disorders (like foot drop!)

Interferon is a group immune system proteins that inhibit and modify  our immune system.

ISC (intermittent self-catheterization) is the procedure in which a person periodically inserts a catheter into the urinary opening to drain urine from the bladder.

Lesion is a wound to body tissue. With MS, that lesion is associated with a wound to the myelin of the central nervous system. This is called plaque.

MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a diagnostic procedure that is much like an internal photography session. It produces visual images of different body parts without the use of X-Rays.

Myelin is the soft, white coating (insulation) of the nerve ends in the central nervous system.

OT is occupational therapy necessary for independent living.

PT refers to physical therapy, concentrating on mobility and physical strength.

Primary-progressive MS has no remissions and very short-lived, minor improvements.

Progressive-relapsing MS involves clear, acute relapses with or without full recovery.

Relapsing-remitting MS is characterized by clearly defined attacks followed by full or partial recovery and no disease progression between attacks.

Sclerosis is the hardening of body tissue.

Secondary-progressive MS is initially relapsing-remitting and gradually becomes progressive at a variable rate.

Spasticity is the term used to define a change in the normal elasticity of the muscles, which results in tightness and/or stiffness.

UTI (urinary tract infection) = YUCK!

Having multiple sclerosis is like eating alphabet soup. The combination of acronyms and descriptive language is over-whelming. It is difficult, if not even impossible, to be familiar with all of the letters associated with MS.

That is why it is important to take an interest in your disease.

The more we read, the more we know.

Take a moment this weekend to look over my books on Amazon, my Face Book page or my blog. I have looked at MS from a personal angle with I Have MS. What's Your Super Power? as well as through the eyes of a young teen in Abby,.

During the month of March, one dollar from the sale of each book (if ordered directly from me) will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in recognition of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month.

Even corporations are interested in creating an awareness for MS.

Contact me if you are interested. I cannot place your name on a tower, but I can (and will) pay for postage and even include a little prize!:)

Abby, $15.00
I Have MS. What' Your super Power? $12.00
Bundle them and save! Both books $25.00
The cost of postage is on me!
Check out my books on Amazon, but order direct from me to contribute to NMSS.

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