As hard as I try to stay positive about my MS, I have to be honest and say that the last couple of weeks have been a challenge. The problem with something like MS is that symptoms that “normal” people suffer (like my current problem which feels like a pinched nerve), immediately get filed under the blanket heading of “MS Symptoms”. Often this might only be in the eyes of the sufferer but I think it is something to be wary of as it could mean that more malevolent warning signs of other diseases are overlooked.
At this point I need to say that before I was diagnosed with MS when I was living in Australia, I went to see my local GP with what I described as a “pinched nerve”. He saddled up his high horse and explained in a rather patronising tone that there is no such thing as a pinched nerve and attempted to demonstrate the impossibility of doing such a thing. I got a little further by using the word “nerve compression” and saying “the sensation that you get if you imagined that you might have a pinched nerve” but basically the guy was too full of himself to realise he was being a dickhead. Did he expect me to say: “Oh well that’s fine. I’m sorry to have wasted your valuable time with my imaginings”, hand over my money and leave his surgery? It was enough to make me, not just leave his surgery but leave the country!
I have a fairly high pain threshold but whatever it is that feels like it might be a pinched nerve is at its worst when I’m lying down. This makes sleep virtually impossible and sets the MS off into excruciating spasms that I can quite truthfully put on a par with childbirth. And then there’s the medication dilemma. Dosing oneself with muscle relaxants might relieve the spasms a little but will undoubtedly result in muscle weakness and taking strong painkillers increases the fatigue and brain fog which is already an ever-present problem. Up to this point, even though I haven’t been completely pain-free, at least I haven’t felt the need to take much regular medication and I sincerely hope I can return to that happy state of affairs because it’s a never-ending case of trying to figure out the lesser of the two evils.
I’ve joined a few online groups which often post useful information relating to autoimmune diseases like MS and I got an email from one of those groups today. Although the first paragraph might perhaps sound a bit dire there was something in it that really struck a nerve with me (pun completely intended). I’m paraphrasing a bit, but this is the general gist:
Autoimmune diseases are silent, deadly diseases that strike at the heart of the human experience. They weaken morale, threaten hope, steal dreams. They leave youthful spirits wasting away in bodies that forbid aspiration. They mercilessly attack men, women and children. They devastate families.
The reality: we face diseases that are plaguing more lives today than cancer and heart disease combined.
Autoimmune diseases have swept the globe and are growing at unprecedented rates. Tens of millions of people worldwide are suffering from autoimmune diseases. And, they’re projected to double within the next 20 years. There are over 130 defined autoimmune conditions today. They include diseases like rheumatoid or reactive arthritis, celiac sprue, skin disorders, hair loss, inflammatory bowel, type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s, Graves,’ Addison’s, lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, degenerative brain diseases, fibromyalgia and many more. It’s no longer a question whether this will affect your life or your loved ones. It is now a question of when.