Acupuncture is in my toolbox

I’ve been routinely receiving acupuncture treatments for more than 10 years. I like the Acupuncturist; she has become a friend. I consider her an integral part of my M.S. treatment team.

When people learn of this they inevitably ask “Do you find it makes a difference?  Do you feel better?”  Unfortunately, how can I know?  While an MRI every year can show brain lesion activity over time, researchers haven’t yet discovered whether those lesions even correlate to disease progression and/or current symptoms.

My disease has seemingly progressed in spite of acupuncture treatment. But it also appears to have progressed even with my daily Copaxone® injections too, which are the standard, current recommended medical treatment.   So then, would it have progressed more without the acupuncture? I don’t know. 

Acupuncture has a growing acceptance in western medicine as being good for treating pain. So if I had pain associated with my M.S., as some people do, this might be one way to gauge and easily communicate its effectiveness to others.  As convenient as I might find that, thankfully I do not have pain.


At least I get regular check-ins with a healthcare professional who monitors my symptoms so I only have to “bother” my neurologist with any bigger concerns.  I also enjoy 45 minutes of relaxation per session.  Some years it is even partially reimbursed by my health insurance.

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Would I swap symptoms?

I’ve been reviewing the past five-year chunk of my life. It is very scary to realize how much mobility I’ve lost. I’m only 43; if it keeps going like this, how long before I’m in a wheelchair?
OH helped The Saint move his mother last week. The entire week. And just down the block from where she was living. There was much gnashing of teeth (I would say “”hair pulling” but The Saint has a bald head!).
The back story is that they apparently met in the 90s, again moving her. And while it was stressful and grueling then, it is the source of much jocularity today. I try to remind them of that now.
One of The Saint’s sisters was also helping them. I felt bad that I was physically unable to pitch in. Especially since she has M.S., too.
OH reminds me that her symptoms include pain, scrambled cognition, and vision problems. The Saint has now moved in with her. She worked as a CPA but eventually had to go on Social Security disability .
He wants to know if I’d swap my symptoms–bladder problems, poor hand-eye coordination, and decreasing mobility–for hers. He points out that I still hold down a full-time job. I grudgingly admit that if I had her symptoms then I might want other ones.
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Advice to the newly reclassified

I personally think the only reason the doctors differentiate between
“types” of M.S. is to give the patient an idea of what is appropriate
to expect. But because of that, there are drugs that are only approved
for one “type” of M.S. so if a doctor wants you to try one you must
be classified as that type. And it really is such an individual, unique
disease: tell J. not to let the label dictate what she is or isn’t

This is a description from an MS Society booklet called “Managing
Progressive MS” that you can download for free at

“Progressive MS manifests itself differently in everyone. Whether
your MS is “secondary-progressive” which followed a period of
“relapsing-remitting” MS or “primary-progressive” meaning it has been slowly
progressive from the beginning, it is important to realize that “progressive”
does not necessarily mean severe disability. But it does mean that there are
few or no relapses, and few or no recovery or remission periods when major
symptoms abate.”

Also see

With Tysabri (what you called “the chemo”), tell J. not to worry
about the “multifocal leukoencephalopathy” (PML) at this point.
It has been reported in only a few cases and always with people who were
currently taking other immunosuppressants as well. The National Library
of Medicine reports that “there is not enough information to tell whether
using it alone also increases this risk” and that is because it hasn’t

The Multiple Sclerosis Quarterly Review, published by the United
Spinal Association and the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, reports
that there have recently been reports of liver dysfunction and two cases of
malignant melanoma associated with its use. But it also reminds us that although there continue
to be safety concerns, it is still “the most effective FDA-approved drug
for treating” M.S. Tell her to have
her liver enzymes checked with regular blood tests.

I got Tysabri once when it was first approved and was tired but fine (I always
think that except for this “pesky M.S.” our immune systems are
superstars). But the following Monday it had been pulled from the market
because of the initial PML discoveries. In the meantime I had an MRI and
there was little change so my doctor decided not to resume it for me when it
came back on the market. The bottom line is that there are both risks and
benefits to all drugs and also that chemotherapies tend to have less side
effects in recent times.It has really
helped some people.

Also, I can totally relate to being too proud to ask for help. When OH
was in the hospital and I was spiraling downhill, I was finally able to ask my
mom for help. She was so pleased to be able to do something,
so I think it might help J. to ask if she knows how helpless you feel and don’t
know unless she tells you what you can do that she would really
appreciate. My mom washed, folded and put away laundry, washed dishes,
scrubbed the shower and cooked meals for my freezer for months.

Learning to ask for help is one of the lessons this disease is trying to teach

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