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)


Beware the MS hiatus hangover

Sometimes multiple sclerosis seems to take a sabbatical. At least, relapse-remitting MS does. The MonSter sort of snoozes for a while. Or perhaps he simply lurks in the background a bit.

When that happens, the MS warrior rejoices. It’s like a respite, bringing more-than-welcome breathing space.

I know the feeling.

When MS symptoms subside, I want to celebrate.

I want to scale a mountain, run a marathon, and complete every item on my personal to-do list.

Although I have never been high, I have to contend that these symptom- and pain-free moments bring a euphoria that could easily top anything pharmaceuticals or biologicals (legal or illegal) could provide.

Then I wonder if this liberty from misery (short-lived though it may be) offers a taste of the way the rest of the world must feel all the time. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. All sorts of people battle all sorts of medical problems. But still, I wonder … 

I nearly always overdo it on my symptom-free days.

Clearly, I am overwhelmingly grateful even to have such times. I know plenty of valiant ones who live with primary-progressive MS, which never seems to let up. And I know that condition could await me down the road, popping up without warning.

So I grab all the carpe deum I can muster on those good days and push my limits. I accept and complete the work assignments. I run extra miles. I ride the horse. I run the errands. I burn the midnight oil.

And I pay dearly for it the next day … and the days that follow.

Personally, I call that experience the MS hiatus hangover. I’ve heard others call it the MS tax, the MonSter’s payback, and MS’ revenge. But I think the hangover moniker fits.

It’s the reciprocation for taking it to excess. The aching body and head, mind-numbing pain, head-to-toe fatigue, random spasticity, and reeling vertigo closely resemble the aftereffects of over-imbibing.

And, although yesterday I felt like a world-beater, today I can barely beat my way out of bed.

So I think, “Maybe I’ll exercise a more moderate approach next time.”

Then, when next time arrives, and I have an up day (from an MS symptom standpoint), I harness all that energy again and … you guessed it.

 Adapted from public domain artwork and photo

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