Friday, June 8, 2012

Explaining some symptoms of MS, part one

What is it with pain lately?!!  Oh, my goodness there seems to be no way to avoid it even though I've learned to pace myself, steer clear of doing too many things in one day and not over-exhaust my body and mind.  It has all seemed quite futile as I've been in terrible pain and my only relief has been my "beloved" TENS unit.  I really do love it and highly recommend this device for MS and other types of pain.

I wonder sometimes if I make too much of a big deal over things I should just take as they are.  What am I talking about?  Well, let me post this picture and I'll start there.
When I read this list of symptoms of MS,  I didn't feel any of it seemed too devastating. It doesn't sound horribly bad to me as they aren't explained and many may wonder, what do ataxia or spasticity mean?  Even the spell check feature on the computer considers spasticity a misspelling or nonexistent word! I need explanations to give these words MEANING as I'm sure many others do as well.  Allow me to break it down.

Visual disturbances.  My first symptom, as it is for many, was Optic Neuritis (ON).  Aside from this, there are issues such as uncontrolled eye movements (utterly annoying) and double vision which is terribly frightening!

Balance and coordination problems-ataxia.  First, I should explain what ataxia means since it's a word I'm sure few of us knew until we found out we had MS!  The meaning of ataxia, as published in The American Heritage Science Dictionary, is the "loss of muscular coordination as a result of damage to the central nervous system."  I also read (can't remember the source) that ataxia is caused by the inability of the brain to regulate posture and the strength and direction of limb movements.  Yup, sounds like MS!  I find it humorous how the list above failed to mention WALKING (gait) DIFFICULTIES as a symptom since this is when balance would prove to be a problem.  Idiots, I swear!

Spasticity.  According to the MS Society's website, "spasticity refers to feelings of stiffness and a wide range of involuntary muscle spasms (sustained muscle contractions or sudden movements).  Is is one of the more common symptoms of MS.  Spasticity may be as mild as the feelings of tightness of  muscles or may be so severe as to produce painful, uncontrollable spasms of extremities, usually of the legs.  Spasticity may also produce feelings of pain or tightness in and around joints, and can cause low back pain.  Although spasticity can occur in any limb, it is much more common in the legs."  And it is HORRIBLE!
Altered sensations.  Altered.  What a "politically correct" way to say our sensations become utterly FUCKED UP from one moment to the next!  When I mention my feet are numb, most don't consider this to be too big a deal, but think about this for a moment.  I have not felt my feet "normal" since I was 22 or 23 years old!  It is anything but normal and yes, it is a big deal to not feel the floor or ground you are walking on!  I want to feel my sheets, socks, water.. anything!  And then they start to itch uncontrollably for no apparent reason other than they just can.  It's maddening.  But at least it's not painful, as the burning and pins and needles becomes.  Sure, everyone gets the pins and needles sensations when their feet are waking up from being asleep but imagine this happening for hours on end and magnified at least 100 if not 1,000 times!  THAT is MS and that is our reality.  Altered is a rather insulting way to describe what we live through.

Abnormal speech.  There are different sorts of speech problems (the medical term is dysarthria) but the one that has affected me has been slurring my words to a point of not being understood.  Very annoying and extremely embarrassing.

OK, so I think I'll stop here for today but I WILL continue either later this evening or tomorrow as I believe it's important to hit on all these points!

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