Is it MS?

To have strong Nerve Impulses you need a healthy Myelin Sheath
To have Strong Nerve Impulses you need a healthy Myelin Sheath

To have Strong Nerve Impulses you need a healthy Myelin Sheath

MS is characterized by damage to the myelin sheath which is supposed to surround our nerves, protecting them and keeping the impulses they send intact. In an article about under diagnosed B12 Deficiency, people who had been thought to have MS, recovered when given vitamin B12.

While I have nerve damage from a central nervous system disease, as well as a long period of “profound” B12 deficiency, I want to talk about my experience with low potassium looking like I had MS. I’ll tell you the story because something similar could happen to you.

In my case, a pipe broke. While waiting for the plumber I furiously swept gushing water out the front door, hoping to protect the rest of my house. When the plumber arrived he said he’d followed water flowing in the gutter to find my house.

Some days later I was in a huge building with no place to sit for a rather long distance. Within a few days of the extreme exhaustion from the two events, my difficulty walking and standing increased dramatically. I ordered a cane, then before I even used the cane, I ordered a rolling walker.

I thought I’d get better if I used more B12, but I didn’t get better. Instead it became difficult to lift my feet. I had to give up putting on nylons to go out. I thought if I lost weight, it would be easier to walk. It was getting more painful to stand up, to walk, to engage in almost any movement, so giving up going to the kitchen for food was easy.

I lost weight, but it didn’t make it easier to lift my feet. Also, I’d begun to shake, especially when I went outside for mail and had to step up the 5 inch rise to come back inside.

Whereas I’d been able to go to the grocery store on and again, it was no longer possible to get into my friend’s pickup. I didn’t have the strength.

I thought about going to a doctor, but felt sure I’d be told something scary, like that I had MS. Since the consensus is there’s no cure for MS, I decided there was no point in getting a scary opinion that could make it harder for me to recover. I remembered how low vitamin B12 can be misdiagnosed as MS.

For a year my health deteriorated. I wondered how long I’d be able to take care of myself. Then I tore a muscle ~ more pain when I could barely handle what I had. I doubled my B12 intake to the equivalent of two B12 shots a day. Almost immediately I got extremely painful muscle spasms. I was pretty sure I’d overdone my cobalt intake ~ B12 contains the heavy metal cobalt.

When I was tweeted about this someone replied that using B12 can cause muscle spasms if there isn’t enough potassium to keep up with your blood cells’ need for potassium as they begin to divide properly after a period of low vitamin B12.

That set me reading scads of stuff, both research articles and forum contributions related to potassium. Together they convinced me to try more potassium. Especially given that I had no idea we need 4700 mg of potassium a day. I mean, I was getting a small fraction of that.

At the time my meals were delivered by Kitchen Angels because I couldn’t stand long enough to cook. Recipients were given wonderful meals that included a banana once ever week or so. The same was true of potatoes. So I ordered potassium capsules, failing to work out that if each capsule was 98 mg I’d need to take most of the bottle in one day.

Since potassium capsules weren’t going to work, I researched foods rich in potassium. I ordered peanut butter to have for breakfast and lunch, and Maca to put in my coffee. Come spring I ordered seed potatoes and grew potatoes that were the most tasty I’ve ever had. And, I was using cilantro capsules to reduce the heavy metals in my body.

Within a few weeks I had fewer excruciating muscle spasms that felt as if my whole torso was going to seize up in a fearful, frozen permanence.

That was great, but even better, my strength was returning. It had been almost impossible to stand without holding on to my walker, which made it hard to do things that required one of my hands. To my great joy, as time went on and I continued to eat more potassium rich foods every day, my strength returned.

Today, months later, I’m so much better than I can imagine being able to walk without a walker.

Nerve Damage

Graphic of nerve with myelin sheath in tatters

The picture illustrates nerve damage in the form of tattered myelin sheath. Nerve damage like this can cause intense pain. As long as your nerves are healthy the only pain you associate with them involves their rightful work, like telling you you’ve hit your thumb with a hammer. Thus, it comes as a shock if your nerves suddenly transmit burning sensations when you don’t have a third degree sunburn.

Low vitamin B12 levels can lead to demyelination ~ the loss of or damage to the protective sheaths on your nerves, without which you may have future years of pain burning away the joy you could otherwise enjoy.

Additionally, when the myelin sheath is damaged it no longer keeps nerve impulses on the straight and narrow, so to speak. They slip out, losing some of their strength. It is not surprising, then, that the most common symptom of motor nerve damage is weakness.

Other symptoms are painful cramps, muscle twitching visible under the skin, muscle loss, bone degeneration, and changes in skin, hair, and nails. In fact, your fingernails are an easy way to check the health of your nerves. Read more.

Sensory nerve damage causes more complex symptoms than motor nerve damage because your sensory nerves have a wider, more highly specialized range of functions. Your sensory nerve fibers register vibration, light touch, and position sense. Damage to your sensory fibers lessens your ability to feel vibrations and touch, resulting in a sense of numbness, especially in your hands and feet. You may feel as if you’re wearing gloves and stockings even when you’re not. You may lose the ability to identify small objects by touch.

Damage to sensory fibers contributes to loss of reflexes (as can motor nerve damage). Loss of your sense of position can make it hard to coordinate complex movements like walking, or to keep your balance when your eyes are shut.

Neuropathic pain following nerve damage is difficult to control and can seriously affect your emotional well-being and overall quality of life. Neuropathic pain is often worse at night, disrupting sleep and adding to the emotional burden of sensory nerve damage.

There are small sensory nerve fibers without myelin sheaths that transmit pain and temperature sensations. Damage to these nerves interferes with feeling pain or temperature changes. For instance, you may fail to sense an injury or that a wound is becoming infected. Or, you may not feel pains warning of an impending heart attack.

Loss of pain sensation is particularly serious if you have diabetes. If you can’t feel pain you may fail to identify a problem that must be dealt with to avoid the need for amputation. Because of the loss of pain sensation there is a high rate of lower limb amputations among people with diabetes.

On the other hand, pain receptors in your skin can become so sensitive you feel severe pain from the weight of a sheet or clothing.

Is it MS?
Article Name
Is it MS?
MS is characterized by damage to the myelin sheath that protects our nerves and keeps impulses they send intact. Damaged myelin and low potassium can mimic MS.
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Health Boundaries
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