As it progresses, Multiple System Atrophy causes several interesting side effects that make life even more confusing and unpredictable. For example, I know I often start the first word of my opening comment much too loud and that it takes a few spoken words to determine the proper volume. I’ve also acquired something called a “startle reflex,” where I over-react to loud sounds or even the appearance of someone unexpectedly into the same room. Events like these cause me to “jump” and sometimes cry out in surprise.
Speaking of crying out, another of these effects deals with exaggerated emotional reactions: like crying at times after listening to a sad story or a TV show or - just the opposite - laughing out loud at inappropriate moments. I haven’t experienced the crying effect yet, thank goodness, but I will admit to the excessive or exaggerated laughter part. Just the other night, I made what I was sure was a hysterical comment to my patient wife, Fran, and found myself laughing out-loud like the village idiot. After realizing she was looking at me like I was insane, I finally realized I was over-reacting and was able to get a grip on myself.
I mention this because I had a scheduled 6-month visit with my neurologist last week, who asked, “What’s new.” After revealing my recent episodes of being easily startled along with boisterous laughter, the doctor produced a sample of - and a 6-week prescription for – Neudexta, a compound proven effective in diminishing these MSA side effects.
I guess I’ll give Neudexta a try. After all, I would like to overcome certain of these side effects before they become really embarrassing. But I think I’d like to keep the laughter effect, even if I’m the only one getting the joke. MSA can be pretty depressing stuff - a little laughter can be therapeutic.
ADDED: Jan 2012 - I neglected to mention I never did fill the Neudextra script. Came to the conclusion the relatively mild symptoms didn't warrant putting another drug in my body. Several months have passed and the symptoms haven't gotten worse, so I guess I made the right call.