One thing we do know, though, is that influenza can make us feel worse. MS Society sites around the world agree the flu pushes up our temperature and can make symptoms flare up. And, for those who experience relapses, an infection like the flu can trigger one.
Having progressive MS, relapses are not part of my life, but my symptoms certainly can flare when I am hit by an infection.
And that is exactly what happened over the weekend when I finally succumbed to the same flu that my wife had been suffering from for a few days.
I suppose my two most obvious symptoms are problems with mobility and balance and these certainly were much worse at the height of infection. I fell getting out of my armchair and again in our bathroom, both times taking many minutes to get back onto my feet as my strength deserted me in my time of need. If it had not been for the physical help provided by Lisa, my loving wife, my time on the floor likely would have been much longer.
After my second fall, she insisted that I sit in our bathroom chair, which is on wheels. Although still unwell herself, insisted on pushing me between living room, bathroom and bedroom. She said her motives were a little selfish as it was easier to push me about than help me recover from another fall.
Flu jab protection?
So, if the flu can have such a bad effect, should we take advantage of the protection offered by have the annual flu jab?
Well, when I lived in the U.K., I used to follow the advice of doctors and the country’s MS Society that recommends that people with MS have a seasonal flu jab every autumn. It says: “This is before the flu season starts around November. But it’s still worth having one later than that. Carers and partners can get a flu jab too.”
But that is in the past. No more jabs for me.
Why the change? Let me assure you that it is nothing to do with efficacy of the vaccines or their general safety for most people.
Instead, it is all about their safety for me. Regular readers may recall that in October I spent time in Moscow having medical tests at the A.A. Maximov center that provides HSCT treatment, including patients with MS and other autoimmune diseases.
There is no need to go into detail of what went on, but one of the key findings was that my MS lesions are all inactive and the recommendation made by Dr. Denis Fedorenko, MD, to minimize the risk of reactivating them, was that I should have no vaccines. None at all, not even the flu jab.
I want to emphasize that this is NOT advice for you. Everyone is different. Make sure you get our own medical advice.
This article, written by me, was first published by Multiple Sclerosis News Today.
50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease/disorder-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.