A few years ago I started to have issues with startling at the drop of a hat. I can be going about my business and somebody drops something sending me into a near cardiac. Granted when I’m deep in thought the whole world drops away and I’m completely oblivious to my surroundings. That being said it hurts when I am startled, literally it causes me physical pain. Like a electric shock in my chest. It is triggered by sound and sometimes by not noticing a person is approaching.
Now this is not a continuous thing…thank goodness. If I was constantly startled by every noise it would be crippling especially with 3 children and their friends rampaging through the house. Seriously at any given time there can be around ten kids coming and going, ringing doorbells and making noise.
This extreme startle reflex I discovered is called Myoclonus. In my case it is stimulant sensitive Myoclonus. Multiple Sclerosis has so many and varied symptoms. Each and every individual stricken with MS has a separate experience with the disease. It is not a one size fits all thing. Of the symptoms many suffer Myoclonus is one that can be overlooked or not readily associated with MS.
I wanted to know what causes Myoclonus and found that there are many different causes but in regards to Multiple Sclerosis it is likely the result of brain or spinal lesions. As with everything to do with Multiple Sclerosis it is not fully understood what causes this but it is believed that in cases of stimulus sensitive Myoclonus, the brain becomes overly sensitive to the signals caused by external stimuli such as sound.
Myoclonus according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
It refers to sudden, involuntary jerking of a muscle or group of muscles. Myoclonic twitches or jerks usually are caused by sudden muscle contractions, called positive myoclonus, or by muscle relaxation, called negative myoclonus. Myoclonic jerks may occur alone or in sequence, in a pattern or without pattern. They may occur infrequently or many times each minute. Myoclonus sometimes occurs in response to an external event or when a person attempts to make a movement. The twitching cannot be controlled by the person experiencing it.
In its simplest form, myoclonus consists of a muscle twitch followed by relaxation. A hiccup is an example of this type of myoclonus. Other familiar examples of myoclonus are the jerks or “sleep starts” that some people experience while drifting off to sleep. These simple forms of myoclonus occur in normal, healthy persons and cause no difficulties. When more widespread, myoclonus may involve persistent, shock-like contractions in a group of muscles. In some cases, myoclonus begins in one region of the body and spreads to muscles in other areas. More severe cases of myoclonus can distort movement and severely limit a person’s ability to eat, talk, or walk. These types of myoclonus may indicate an underlying disorder in the brain or nerves.
There are drugs you take to help with this and I find it most helpful for me to be as aware of my surroundings as possible. I still jump here and there but at least I am getting more used to it. More importantly those around me know I have this issue and no longer get upset that I freak out when they come around the corner unexpectedly. If nothing else I am sure that I’m entertaining to watch. 😉