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News and Opinions about MS, Health & Disability

Just how are you coping with your health?

“Hi, how are you?” is, perhaps, today’s less formal equivalent of the traditional and polite greeting “How do you do?”

Of course, the greeting is only a rhetorical question and usually we say some form of “I’m fine, thanks.” Sometimes, we say it even when we could feel better.

When you have a serous illness, such as multiple sclerosis, you are sometimes asked a real question about your health, how the disease is affecting you, and so on. And that got me thinking, how am I getting on, how am I coping with MS? And, how are you doing?

how are youMS is certainly not new to me as my first symptoms appeared more than 40 years ago, although it was not definitely diagnosed until 2002. But, just how am I doing?

Regular readers will undoubtedly recall that I visited the HSCT facility in Moscow in October 2016, where it was discovered that I had a vitamin D deficiency. As a result of that, I began to take a daily supplement.

Then, at the end of October last year, I was seen by a neurologist here in Spain – having not seen one during my last 10 years living in the UK. Tests here showed by vitamin D deficiency had improved slightly but its level was still far too low. Additionally, they indicated a similar lack of vitamin B.

So, me medications have now been adjusted to increase significantly the amount of vitamin D supplement and to introduce a regular dose of vitamin B.

How are you? Better, worse, or the same

Have they had an impact? Well, it may be too early to tell. Any perceived gain could only be wishful thinking, but let me tell you what’s been happening.

I don’t usually use my wheelchair at home but Lisa has been unwell, so I have had to do more around the house. To enable me to do this, and to avoid the risk of falling, my neat folding motorized wheelchair has been pressed into use indoors.

On Friday, I drove into our nearest town to visit our bank and the supermarket. When I returned to my car, my wheelchair suffered a mechanical malfunction that turned out to be extremely minor and was fixed by a neighbour in less than five minutes when I got home.

Having left my chair with my neighbor, I had to get from my car into the house by myself. To most people, this would not cause a problem but to me, it was equivalent to a major trek.

I walked carefully up a ramp while holding onto a handrail, entered the house and made it to my armchair without any incident. I was not out of breath, and felt good.

It was a minor achievement that made me feel good, but was it the result of vitamin supplements or just one of my good days? Obviously, I cannot tell yet. But any improvement, no matter how small, must be seen as a sign of encouragement.

What about you, how are you getting on?

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

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Take responsibility, vitamins, and a position for sleep

We should all take responsibility for our own health, and this is something I both advocate and practice.  That’s why I got my GP to refer me to an MS specialist neurologist here in Spain, and why Lisa and I have been looking at the possibility of buying an adjustable bed.

Regular readers may recall that blood tests revealed I was deficient in vitamins B12 and D. The neurologist prescribed supplements to put this right.

Livestrong.com says vitamin B12 plays an important role in many of our everyday functions. Without it, the nervous system and circulatory system cannot work optimally. B12 comes from many of the foods you eat. Some people do not get enough B12 in their diets, however, and others may have difficulty absorbing the nutrient from their food. In these cases, you may need supplemental B12.

supplementsSupplemental B12 is available in capsules, gels and even injections. The type you need depends on the degree of your deficiency. While most people’s blood B12 levels range between 200 and 900 pg/mL, according to Medline Plus, you may experience deficiency symptoms once your levels drop below 200.

B12 deficiency, which causes a number of unpleasant side effects. You may feel sluggish and weak, experience tingling in your hands and feet, feel confused or even have trouble with your balance.

Supplements to fix problems of low vitamins

As I also have a heart condition, I wanted to establish that vitamin D supplements work ok with blood thinners. Once again, livestrong.com provides valuable reassurance:

For some people, blood thinners are a necessity. They are prescribed to prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood vessel clots. There are two main types of blood thinners — anticoagulants, such as heparin and warfarin — or Coumadin — and anti-platelets, such as aspirin. Blood thinners are known to have many drug interactions, so read labels and packaging inserts when

Both the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality do not list any negative interactions between vitamin D supplements and blood thinners. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center indicates that taking vitamin D supplements while on certain blood thinners, such as heparin, may prove beneficial. Heparin may interfere with bone growth and vitamin D use in the body, which could lead to bone loss and osteoporosis. Taking vitamin D and calcium supplements while you are on heparin may help prevent this.

Then there’s the issue of sleep and the possible desirability of adjustable beds. We decided to research the pros and cons. This is what came to light:

Advantages of adjustable beds

They:

  1. provide a higher level of blood circulation at night
  2. help to relieve the typical aches and pains that come with life
  3. can relieve the symptoms of asthma
  4. can reduce symptom of indigestion, or acid reflux
  5. allow for a greater level of independence

Adjustable beds are often needed by those of us who have ongoing health issues that limit mobility. These beds help promote greater independence because they are easier to get inor get out of – without help from anyone else.

  1. It doesn’t prevent other bed-related fun

Whatever it is that you define as ‘fun’, from doing a crossword, checking Facebook, surfing the web, or something a little more intimate, it won’t be curtailed.

Disadvantages of adjustable beds

They:

  1. are expensive
  2. may be high maintenance costs
  3. can be loud
  4. are incredibly heavy 
  5. can be difficult to clean
  6. provide difficulty in movement

When used to raise your upper body or legs, adjustable beds keep you in one sleep position – on your back. To sleep on your side, you need to leave the bed flat, defeating the object of having an adjustable bed in the first place.

7. Not all the physical benefits that are promoted may be experienced

It is possible for you to spend a great deal of money on an adjustable bed, yet get no physical benefit from the change in how you sleep.

Bearing all that in mind, Lisa and I decided to check out a reclining sleep position without buying a new bed. So, we bought a special inflatable cushion (pictured above) which can elevate the mattress. This can raise your upper body by various degrees.

So far, the vitamin supplements are beginning to have some positive effect. And we have found the elevated position to be comfortable and both gained a better night’s sleep.

The trial goes on.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * *

50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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