That is one of the first things my neurologist told me early on".not every health problem is caused by multiple sclerosis. In a story he shared to illustrate his point, he told of a patient who spent an entire weekend doing yard work and cleaning out her garage. The patient was not typically in the habit of being a weekend warrior. On Monday morning, she was rather fatigued and wondered if her MS was the cause. Upon calling the doctor’s office, she was reassured that her fatigue was "normal person" fatigue caused by being a weekend warrior. That story made attendees at the newly-diagnosed meeting chuckle.
Sometimes it is easy to distinguish MS-related symptoms and problems from other health-related issues which anybody might experience. For instance, if you do not brush your teeth regularly and never floss, you might develop gingivitis. MS does not cause gingivitis. However, if you have weakness, tremors, or lack of coordination involving your arms and hands, you may not be able to care for your teeth properly. Your oral hygiene may be adversely affected which certainly could contribute to the development of gingivitis.
Recently I had a mildly interesting experience. Due to a increased level of activity during this month (especially during the past week), I have been more fatigued than usual. I’ve broken out the provigil supply and have been drinking a cup of coffee most days. While I’ve been more fatigued, I’ve also experienced more insomnia. Fatigue and insomnia are certainly disease-related for me.
Yesterday, I took a nap in the afternoon. For some reason, I laid a different direction on my bed. As a result, my leg fell asleep. The funny part of this story is that I didn’t ‘feel’ that I couldn’t ‘feel’ my leg. When I got up from the bed, I took one step and found myself headed straight to the ground.
Bam! One forearm hit the post of my footboard. The back of my head hit hard on the chest of drawers. Here I was, home alone, still half asleep with a ‘dead’ leg, a lump on the head, and no clear idea of what had just happened. I sat for a moment allowing my mind to clear. Then I needed to gingerly get up.
Next stop was the bathroom to take care of the reason I was getting up from the bed to begin with. While I sat for a moment, I began feeling very faint and sick to my stomach. Back to the bed I went. While I waited for the clammy skin to dry up, I contemplated what it took to cause a concussion. Fortunately, the feeling passed. While I took a shower (and yes, I wasn’t taking my daily shower until in the afternoon), I felt the lump on my head grow. Better for the lump to go outward rather than inward. Then I took some pain-killers and went on with my day.
Today while I was typing some emails, I noted that my wrist was sore. Here is the short message I sent out on twitter: "Wondering why my wrist hurts today…then I remember, I fell yesterday. Duh. And yep, still got that lump on the back of my head. Ouch."
I received an immediate response - Cat said "we fall when we least expect it! Hope you heal fast!!" That’s true. Then I received another message - "Maybe a service dog would help. They really do help you balance. Feel better."
I appreciate the words of encouragement. The thing which strikes me is that the reason I fell was not due to typical MS lack of balance. It was because I slept in an odd position and my leg fell asleep. This can happen to anybody. However, I honestly don’t know how much my altered senses affected how I didn’t "feel" my numb leg. I can’t say for sure.
This evening I spent an hour practicing with music students who are performing on Saturday. My right hand complained a bit. The muscles in my palm were tender and the knuckle joint between my first two fingers is a bit swollen. This physical complaint confirms to me that I did indeed use my right hand to soften the blow of the fall. In this case, it is my RA which is flaring a bit due to the fall. As a result, I have taken it easy the rest of the evening.
So while not everything is caused by MS, our disease can potentially effect how our body reacts to situations. And what happens in certain situations can effect how our disease responses to stimulus. No matter, I am fine and feeling a better. Although I do still have an impressive lump on my head and have put my hand on ice.
So how are you doing this week? Got any stories to share? We’d love to hear them.
Lisa Emrich is a patient advocate, accomplished speaker, author of the award-winning blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA, and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers. Lisa uses her experience to educate patients, raise disease awareness, encourage self-advocacy, and support patient-centered research. Lisa frequently works with non-profit organizations and has brought the patient voice to health care conferences and meetings worldwide. Follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.