There is a symptom the neurologist does not tell you about when you are diagnosed with MS. It is the
effect of Noise on your system. This is directly related to cognitive overload but is easier to understand
because everyone has a sound or volume they can not tolerate. Yet overload and Noise are different.
For me, Noise affects different sensors than overload. My reactions are similar
(fatigue, irritability, headache) but the duration is shorter. The best way for me to explain is to
offer the following examples.
Loud crowds, such as a department store with Beenie Babies on sale, send me into orbit. I will get
disoriented and confused. It becomes difficult to make decisions and my only course of action is to leave
the store. In a mall I have been known to walk over little children and once in my chair I ran over a
grandmother. When she got up I told her that she had been hit by a raindeer. This seemed to satisfy her.
A normal early evening in our house hold will find the TV tuned to the news accompanied by the daily
download from the children. AND the TV commercials. If you think they are not louder than the show,
ask an MSer. It may be a reason I do not watch as much TV! When the TV get a little loud, to be heard in
the kitchen, and the kids try to better each other with their tale of the day, my head start spinning. It is common
for me to become snappy, withdrawn from the conversation or to leave the house. I physically get a
headache and an upset stomach until I get a dose of solitude.
When my wife cleans the house, (directing the kids, moving furniture, running the vacuum), my dog wants
outside of the house real bad and the cats disappear to parts unknown. My breathing gets faster, my head
begins to buzz and I get lethargic. I quickly follow the dog and we sit in the car until it is over.
The most embarrassing effect of Noise (and overload) is when we attend a party or gathering. As the
evening progresses, the volume increases. Multiple conversation erupt around you like wild mushrooms. I
set in a corner but can not avoid people who stray by and chat. Without moving from a single spot my
fatigue level increases to a point of exhaustion. Finally I tell the hostess that I have to go outside and pee on
her daisies before my means of communication becomes null. The next day is R&R or pure hell for my family.
These examples do seem very similar to overload but they are different. The sounds (volume, frequency, or
something) triggers a circuit in the brain and disorientation results. It is hard for many if not most MSer's to follow
several sound sources at the same time. Loud noises are confusing if not painful. Quite is much more important
for concentration than for a non-MSer. Plus, I have found that uncontrollable noise will cause a major hit to my fatigue level.
It is all part of pacing for the MSer. The hectic fast pace life is not health for us. We must gauge and filter the stimulus
that we accept. At the same time people around us need to realize that Noise can and often does affect our response
We are not shit-heads.
It is the disease.