Living with M.S.

"Living with M.S. is sort of like training for a long race. The harder you try, and the longer you keep at it, the stronger you become.
Eventually, looking back, you may be amazed at the power you possessed, even when you had no idea it was within your reach." (Linda Ann Nickerson)


It's not writer's cramp. It's M.S.

Ugh. I can hardly even sign my own name today. My hands are achy and sore. My palms are clammy. And I can’t hang onto a pen without dropping it.

Is it writer’s cramp? Nope. Guess again. It’s one more drawback of life with multiple sclerosis.

That hand muscle spasm, wrist weakness, finger fatigue, and overall manual clumsiness all seem to be part and parcel of MS.

Photo adapted from public domain image
MS can be difficult to define. Even doctors have trouble with that. (Maybe that’s why it seems to take them months, or even years, to diagnose it properly – despite the whopping battery of odd and unpleasant tests they tend to administer in the process.)

The symptoms of MS are even weirder.

MS warriors may battle any number of uncanny symptoms of this chronic neurological monster on a given day. At the same time, we might be able to accomplish quite a lot in other areas.

Here’s the craziest thing. The onslaught of MS symptoms varies, both unpredictably and randomly. 
Word cloud created by this user with online generator.

A single Mser can experience the entire gamut, a strange variety of symptoms, or a single one for a stretch. The symptoms may resolve without warning or persist. It’s tough to tell.

Tomorrow, for example, I am slated to run in a midwinter trail race. It’s hilly and rugged and hard. But I aim to finish. I might even log a respectable race time, at least for my somewhat advanced age group. (The entry numbers tend to diminish, as the age numbers go up.)

But I can’t write a full sentence by hand without fumbling and dropping my pen. And the words I do scratch out are barely legible. Sure, penmanship was never my strongest suit in school, but my handwriting was readable.

Wait till I try to tie my shoes.

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What's a weather-related migraine?

Migraines can rain on any headache sufferer’s day, no matter what the weather outdoors may be doing. At the same time, plenty of people with migraines claim certain weather patterns make their crippling headaches considerably more likely than others.

Those with multiple sclerosis seem to be particularly prone to migraines, although no one seems to know why. (Personally, I can attest to this!)

What’s the story on weather-related migraines?

Maybe it’s meteorological. Certain weather conditions are generally seen as potential triggers for migraines. Here are some such phenomena frequently regarded as strong setups for these truly terrible headaches:

  • bright sunlight (especially glare)
  • deep-freeze cold
  • dust storms
  • extra-dry air
  • extreme heat
  • high humidity
  • lightning
  • low cloud ceiling
  • strong winds
  • sudden barometric pressure shifts
  • and a coming storm.

Essentially, nearly any sudden, extreme sort of weather may produce the perfect storm for triggering a migraine. One prevailing theory suggests weather changes may alter brain chemicals (such as serotonin), which could open the door to a whopper headache. Barometric pressure changes may also affect blood vessels in the head, much like what can occur in a pressurized airplane cabin or a submarine (or at extra-high or extra-low altitudes).

In fact, some meteorological experts (like Accuweather) actually track and predict migraine-risk weather patterns. As a migraine-prone MSer, I periodically look at such forecasts. I may even adjust my schedule to avoid overloading myself on days marked for high probability of migraines.

Today, for example, has been called a high-risk day for migraines. But I pretty much knew that, even before I looked at Accuweather’s forecast. There’s also a wind-chill advisory, a fresh-overnight six-inch snow cover, and a low cloud ceiling.

Please pass the headache tablets, would you?

Adapted from public domain artwork.

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Somebody stop me. I've done too much. Again.

Yikes. It’s only the first day of December, and I am already overspent. I’m not even talking about the checking account. It’s my energy bank.

(If you live with multiple sclerosis, you know exactly what that means.)

I’m overdrawn.

  • Maybe it’s because I have run (at least 3-4 miles a day and often more) on seven of the past ten days.
  • Cooking and hosting Thanksgiving this year, and then spending the rest of that weekend pulling out and putting up holiday decorations is likely another contributing factor.
  • Darting about town to do a bunch of extra errands for holiday shopping and craft supplies could have drawn me down a bit too.
  • Constructing and sewing seven children’s toys for Christmas might have something to do with the spasms my back is now feeling.
  • Wrapping presents for a couple dozen extended family members took some wherewithal as well.
  • Participating in out-of-the-house evening events on three of the past four nights may bear some blame – even though all of these were fun, and I wouldn’t have missed them.
  • Looking forward to going out for hearty holiday happenings on three of the next four nights might play a part.
  • Did I mention I had to play a little catch-up to meet my end-of-month writing quotas?

Are you getting tired, just reading all that?

Please don’t misunderstand. None of these are negatives. I willingly signed on for all of these endeavors and actually enjoyed doing them.

I love the Christmas season.

But I’m a little spent.

That’s how MS works. It’s an up-and-down, back-and-forth, give-and-take sort of life. It’s nearly impossible to predict how much energy will be available on any given day, but we know we are supposed to manage that resource wisely and try not to run out before the end of each day.

Only it doesn’t always work that way. Especially during the holiday season, when so much fun is there to be had.

I think it’s time to pull back from the front lines and plug into the things that recharge me – at least for an hour or two.

Know the feeling?

I’ll be back, once I get my gusto restored.
 Koala in Tree - Pixabay

Feel free to follow on GooglePlus and Twitter. Please visit my Amazon author page as well.
You are invited to join the Kicking MS to the Curb page on Facebook and the Making the Most of MS board on Pinterest.
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