Use Your “I” Words, Baby!

A Multiple Sclerosis Vocabulary

Some people say that good things come from bad. Many others say that is crap. I’m not about to earnestly debate this argument as my brain is just too fatigued to give it much thought. But I will honestly say that one thing good that arose from my multiple sclerosis diagnosis was the increase of helpful vocabulary words beginning with the letter “I.”

Before MS, if someone were to ask me to quickly name a word that starts with the letter “I,” I would have to think for a few seconds. Then I would say “Indian” which is no longer politically correct, and since Native American doesn’t start with the letter “I,” would be wrong anyway.

If I was given more time I might come up with igloo or iceberg, maybe iguana, but I would really have to think for a bit. Pretty sad since I was an English major in college.

But since MS, I know many words that begin with the letter “I” and some are actually helpful in my MS world.


And no, I do not mean “injection” which is technically helpful in a healthy way but is definitely not helpful in a real life way.

Nor do I mean “interferon” which I had never heard of before MS, and do not know what it means, but know that it is printed on my box of “injections” right over the words “Chinese hamster ovary cells.”


Nor do I mean “infusion” which I am sure I had heard of before MS but never real thought too much about.

The “I” words that have been added to my post diagnosis lexicon and which are truly accommodating are “ish” “ing” and “icth.”

Let’s start with my favorite-“ish.” I love “ish.” “Ish” rocks my world and absolves the normally precise me from all responsibility.

“I’ll be there around 9ish,” can actually mean, “no I won’t, but I’ll give it a good try.”

Or, “I have no idea what time I will get there and cannot even begin to try to rationalize how my morning will proceed and how fast I might be moving, but I will roughly aim for some time around 9 in our particular time zone.”

On a stretch it can even mean, “We didn’t state a specific time, did we?”


The reason why “ish” is so good is because not only are you not committing yourself in any way, the ishness of “ish” can be broken down by several factors. My view of “ish” is not your view of “ish” and 9ish can be anything from 7 to 11 and there is nothing anyone can do about it!

It doesn’t just work on time either. When someone asks my age, “30ish” or “how often do you exercise, “Oh often. I try to exercise once or twice a week, ish.”

Do you see the beauty of “ish?” I never appreciated it until my diagnosis but I am thrilled to have “ish” to help me out.

“Ing” is great to use when I try to describe symptoms that are totally indescribable. My ears are making this “ringing,” “buzzing,” or “clopping” sound. My fingers are “aching,” tingling,” and “vibrating” all the “freaking” time. My foot is “dropping,” my legs are “weakening” my head is “pounding,” my brain is “fogging,” my eyes are “blurring,” my skin is “itching,” my stomach is “twisting” and my bladder won’t stop “going.”


“Ing” doesn’t let me off the hook as much as “ish” but it sure makes it easier to explain what is going on in my body even when I no clue what that is.

But if I am really too tired to come up with an appropriate “ing” word or there are just too many too sort out, then the best word is “icth.” “Icth” just sums it all up.

Some days, you are just not with it and MS is doing its best to do you in. Well meaning people may say to you “well, tell me, specifically, how do you feel?” Sometimes you just don’t have the specific words they need to understand. So I just say I feel “icth.”


It’s important to let out a little breath when you say you feel “icth.” If you are not sure about “icth,” then please allow me to tell you it is the next step up from “ick.” Anybody can feel “ick.” But when “ick” is not encompassing enough of your overall ickiness then you must use the word “icth.” “Icth” is “ick” times twenty.

Not only does “icth” describe your ickiness combined with all your other symptoms combined with your overall exhaustion, it also says “stop asking me how I feel because I don’t have energy to explain it to you!”

MS friends, far too many times, “icth” is my favorite word. May you not have to say “icth” too often. But if you do, then I’m glad “icth” is available for you too.

Now for our DWTS moment- Holy Quickstep! My legs started “shaking,” “throbbing,” and “whinnying” just watching Jack do that dance.


Memorable MS quote of the evening- “that’s not getting it doner,” Jack.

Have you been voting???

Vote for Jack Osbourne and his partner Cheryl Burke by calling 1-800-868-3402 up to 60 minutes after the show on Monday nights or by logging onto or up to 24 hours after.

******So sorry to see Valerie Harper leave the dance floor this week. Her strength and attitude are an amazing inspiration. Carry On Valerie, Carry On…******



12 thoughts on “Use Your “I” Words, Baby!

    I saw this on FB and clicked to read and am so glad I did hun!
    You capture the daily challenges and blessings (yes, blessings) of MS beautifully!

    • Thank you so much Wendy! Writing about this stuff feels like the best thing I can do to fight back. Hope you are doing great in your own fight!

  2. I have used the ISH many times as you know.. Been feeling Icth for 2 weeks, and waiting to be relaxing soon when we close the motel 😀

  3. One of my favorite words is “ish” my friends and family long ago decided however, that I have a whole new language- Aubrisms. I am allowed to just create words. They work for me. In some cases they make me laugh, in other cases they make others laugh. But most of the time its because my brain is thinking of two things at once so I combine it into one word… poof! At first I would get all frustrated, now we just laugh cause they have learned to speak “Aubrism’s”. The best is I work for the city of St. Petersburg, at City Hall, and without thinking (duh) I said something to our Mayor in a meeting, then continuing in my trend wrote it off with “sorry, Aubrism” so now he has picked it up… and will use that as an excuse. I wanted to die, he thought it was great! So I say embrace it for all its worth! you never know…

    • Thank you for that story Aubri-that is awesome! Love that you have the mayor speaking your language- good for you! Thank you for checking out my blog- I really appreciate it. I will check out yours too. If I don’t comment on it is only because my brain does some weird thing where I can’t figure out how to comment on BlogSpot blogs. Whatever I pick for an ID, BlogSpot tells me that I don’t exist!

  4. Thank you for offering a glimpse into what living with MS is like for you. I applaud and admire your outlook on a situation that you could have been bitter about. I have enjoyed reading about your experiences and the different ways you have learned to cope including your time management and trying to help others understand how you are feeling. Not setting particular times when meeting with friends allows flexibility if you are having a rough day. Does this flexibility relieve anxiety about making it to a place at a certain time if you are in pain that day; that you normally wouldn’t have (such as making it to a funeral—as in your shower post)? Are many friends supportive of this type of scheduling?

    • Hi Taylor- Thank you so much for your kind words and your questions. Actually, thank you for checking out my blog in the first place!! In all honesty, making vague plans and missing things I have planned, (or not planned like with my friend’s funeral,) sort of make me feel guilty. I worry about disappointing people. I try instead to balance things out whenever possible. Plans with friends on a Saturday night? Hanging low earlier that day and likely most of Sunday. Being vague with the time of plans (like when I talk about using the word ish..) helps me with how I just forget that I move slower when getting myself together. Luckily, I have an awesome group of friends who are very supportive. I try to never take them for granted!

Leave a Comment