Avoiding Sick People

It’s that time of year, where all of the viruses and infections are going around. Trust me, I just experienced it with my oldest son having strep, and I think he shared. Usually I try to avoid people that are sick, but that’s obviously not an option when your child, or someone you live with is sick.

I’ve been told that I’ve said rude things to people, without really meaning to. When someone says they are sick, while we’re all hanging out, I’m like, “Oh no. You gotta keep a 15-foot radius away from me. Stay away from my imaginary bubble!” Someone got his or her feelings hurt when I said this, and I obviously was trying to make it funny, so I wasn’t being rude, but I guess it came off rude.

So I’m going to try and explain on the WHY I won’t willingly go around sick people, as I’m sure others with autoimmune illnesses are the same way. Basically, with MS, our immune system is mistaking our nerves as bad bacteria, and attacking. So, naturally, I don’t want to have my immune system kick up to fight a virus/infection, cause that’s when it starts misfiring.

Basically, it’s nothing against you personally, if you’re sick. I’m just trying to make sure that I don’t end up in a infusion clinic for 3-days straight on IV Steroids, because let me tell you, some people think it’s relaxing and the atmosphere can be relaxing, but why you’re there in the first place is NOT relaxing. You had to get an MRI to see if you were in a flare, most likely, and those are in no way RELAXING. And then there is the AWFUL taste you get in your mouth, while getting IV Steroids. Which by the way, if you ever have to get an infusion of steroids again, get a big bag of jolly ranchers, or something like that. It helps with the nasty taste in your mouth.

Now let me tell you, some people things I’m overly cautious about avoiding sick people, like I have a time-frame of when I will go around them, depending on when they started meds, the last time they had a fever, etc. I’m not taking any chances. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t really care if people things I’m a germaphobe, or crazy. I’m doing what I feel I need to do, so that I don’t end up laid up sick, or in an MRI machine, or getting IV steroids.

Also, from experience, if someone is sick with a virus/infection, and I somehow get sick because I was around them, shared a drink, etc. I will not only end up with what they had, but 10 times worse. Not even exaggerating here, it happened last year, around this time actually. My husband is a firefighter/EMT… and they are obviously exposed to illnesses. Even though they try there hardest to kill all the germs they come into contact with, it’s not always 100%. So there was something going around the department, and James, my husband, ended up getting it. Now most of you know, you can have the virus/infection for a little bit without showing signs. So I contracted it, before James started having symptoms.

Needless to say, I ended up with Pneumonia, and they were telling me that I might have to be hospitalized. Yeah, no thanks, I’ll pass. This doesn’t even begin to cover the increase in symptoms that can be experienced when your immune system is fighting an infection/bacteria.

Lets not forget that if you’re getting an infusion of Tysabri, like myself, I can’t get my infusion if I’m fighting an infection. So then there is all of that nonsense that can be affected as well. I know for most, if you get sick, you go to the doctor, rest take meds, and then you’re better. That’s not how it works for me.

Something else that I also want to talk about, that is still on the topic… and can be used in different obstacles of MS as well. So let me just answer the question that I get asked, when people see how crazy I am about not getting sick…. “No, I am not overreacting. The things I am trying to avoid are not being blown out of proportion.”

Obviously, there are people out there that think I’m overreacting to certain situations, or making things to seem worse than they really are. But until you see it first hand, you will NOT understand. My father-in-law that lives with us didn’t fully understand it until he saw what happened first hand. Now, if someone at his work is sick, he tells him or her to keep their distance from him.

Now with that being said, I won’t have the same ‘reaction’ to every situation. It all depends on what illness is going around, etc. It could just keep me in bed for a certain amount of time, or it could cause a flare up. There is no telling what can happen, and the unknown is one of the scariest parts for me when dealing with MS.

All right, that’s all for now. Since I’m currently not feeling good, and I think my son shared his strep throat with me…. Do you see why this topic came up? I know I’ve written about it before in ‘Tis’ the Season’, but I wanted to brush up on the topic.

Until next time!


Ashley Ringstaff

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***Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net***


Illness is NOT a Choice

Let me start this off by saying that I’m a bit frustrated…. Because I’ve had some people make comments here and there that imply that I ASKED to get multiple sclerosis. First and foremost, there is NO asking for multiple sclerosis. I don’t know anyone that would ask for it, or any other chronic illness. Who in their right mind would do that, let alone IMPLY that we ASKED for it.

It’s for those small-minded people obviously. It’s rude, and no one should EVER insinuate that we asked for this. I didn’t ask to take medications everyday. I didn’t ask to get infusions every four-weeks. I didn’t ask my immune system to attack my Spinal Cord/Brain.

It seems to be that these small-minded people only like to look at things from a certain point of view. That point of view being, having ‘benefits’ with a chronic illness. Now, let me just say that there are NO BENEFITS, except for meeting other patients that are AMAZING people. But to some people, they see certain benefits in having a chronic illness. What is it they see??

Well first off, they see that some are on disability and CANNOT work. Now let me tell you that this is a CAN’T and not a WON’T. Another ‘benefit’ being that we get medications, such-as muscle relaxers, etc. They also see that we take naps, or sleep a lot… because hey, who doesn’t like napping. But it’s the FATIGUE that we’re talking about here. They aren’t thinking about what’s CAUSING us to sleep more often, but just that we ARE sleeping.

It’s sort of like a ‘cause and effect’ theory. Except, these people are BLIND to the CAUSE and are only seeing the EFFECT, no matter how much you try and tell/show them otherwise. Trust me, I’ve tried to tell/show these people that it’s not something that I WANT to have, but they don’t see it that way. It’s almost like they are treating me like I’m ‘faking it’ to do what I want, when I want to. Which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

So, if you know of someone that is small-minded and has view of what I’ve listed about. Let them know this….

While you might see us sleeping a lot, or napping a lot… what you didn’t see is that the pain kept us up all night, with no relief in sight. While you might see us taking medications to help ease the symptoms, what you aren’t seeing is the side-effects of these medications… you also don’t see that these medications don’t make the symptom go away 100%. While you might see us using a handicapped-parking placard and compare it to a ‘valet’… what you didn’t see is us struggling to even get out of the house to get where we are going.

I could probably continue that list for a LONG time… but I think I’ve painted a good picture thus far.

So if you want to keep going through difference scenarios, it all leads down to this…

While you see all these so called ‘benefits’ … what you DIDN’T see is the COST that comes with all of it. So instead of trying to just summarize it all, I want you to take a look at some information I found from Rocky Mountain MS Center Website.

MS has a significant emotional and physical impact on the quality of life of those who have it as well as their families. Seventy percent of people living with MS have a level of impairment from the disease that interferes with at least one essential daily task. After 10 years of disease, seventy percent of people with MS will not be working outside the home. After 15 years, fifty percent will require at least a cane to walk. Thirty percent will eventually need to use a wheelchair.

Because individuals are diagnosed and become symptomatic during their most productive years, the financial cost for the individual and for society can be staggering. Direct costs are high. The medications used to treat MS cost between $20,000 and $30,000 per year and the cost for treatment of a disease flare-up is estimated at $12,870. MS also has high indirect costs— from lost wages to under or unemployment. The direct and indirect costs of MS are now estimated at $57,500 per patient per year. The total lifetime costs associated with MS for an individual is estimated at $2.2 million.

Although the cost of treating MS is great, the cost of not treating MS is probably greater. An estimated seventeen point two percent of Coloradans do not have health insurance. It is also estimated that, nationally, one out of three adults without medical insurance has a chronic disease and many of them do not receive regular medical care. The Rocky Mountain MS Center estimates that at least twenty percent of the MS population in Colorado receives medical care through the Medicaid system and have very limited access to MS specialty care. Individuals who do not receive specialty care are less likely to be on a disease modifying therapy and are more likely to experience more serious levels of disability.”1

On that note I’m going to end this article but I will most likely touch base on the subject in the future.


Ashley Ringstaff

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***Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net***