Law & Order: Multiple Sclerosis Victims Unit
In the multiple sclerosis system, a chronic disease affects two separate yet equally important groups: the brain and the spinal cord. Because of this, often it’s hard to tell the difference between MS and non-MS-related events. These are those stories.
Often, in the world of multiple sclerosis, it’s hard to know where the MS begins or ends.
When is being tired not just being tired?
Am I exhausted from MS fatigue or did I just not get enough rest last night? If I had a bad night’s sleep, is that from an environmental factor (room too warm, kiddos waking us up) or an MS ailment (pain, spasticity)?
Since fatigue is a constant, I’m confident that my depleted energy is a result of MS. Sleep and naps don’t provide energy boosts; rather, they help provide brief moments of reprieve for my exhausted mind and body.
I’ve attempted to “caffeinate” away the fatigue, once even trying a 5-Hour Energy. The result? I was more tired than before I even consumed the energy drink!
Other symptoms are more difficult to differentiate.
I’ve had terrible bouts with vertigo that have left me stricken in bed all
day. I’ll get dizzy while at the grocery store or out for a walk with my family.
These are clear indications of MS-induced vertigo, but sometimes, nausea/dizziness overtakes me as I’m sitting peacefully, reading a newspaper or talking with one of my kiddos.
MS or not MS?
Growing up, I’d never describe myself as graceful but I also wasn’t a klutz.
From time to time, we all drop something by accident, take a misstep on the stairs or clumsily bump into a person or object.
For me, it feels like a daily occurrence, as I’m left with random bruises and have developed a fear of the next time I drop something.
But, when is it the result of MS…or just my own failing?
Then, there is the “brain fog”…a similar term in the non-MS world would be a “brain fart.” Some real-life examples of my mind wandering aimlessly include:
Forgetting where I parked my car or where I was sitting in a restaurant after returning from the restroom. Losing track, mid-sentence, of something important I’m talking about…or not even remembering a conversation I just had. I’ve had troubles remembering good friends’ names and have even watched a movie and not realized I had already seen it.
In each instance, the question lingers: Fog…or fart?
The list of potential MS symptoms is long and seemingly endless. It’s much more than feeling fatigued or losing balance.
Having troubles swallowing your food, difficulties using the restroom, unexplained tremors, odd sensations, problems with intimacy, slurred speech, abnormal gait, anxiety, depression, blurred, double or loss of vision…
…could very well be the start of another MS relapse, or maybe not and it’s related to something else entirely.
I’m not trying to make light of these issues; rather, I’m hoping to underscore the enormous ground that multiple sclerosis covers.
One consequence of this wide-ranging scope is the difficult road many people face before receiving a MS diagnosis.
Each of those ailments, on their own, could be related to other diseases or health problems. As a result, I faced years of tests related to possible viruses, cancers and every exotic disease you could imagine.
But it also makes living with MS a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week kind of experience.
It’s like I’m starring in my own spin-off TV show: “Law & Order: MS Victims Unit.”
Although I’m usually the “victim,” I also make cameo appearances as a junior detective but usually those roles are for my medical team with my neurologist starring as the police commissioner, bringing resolution and clarity to many of the unanswered questions.
I think I might start shopping this idea to Hollywood. The show would be equal parts comedy, drama and suspense…I see many Emmy Awards in its future!
I know what you’re asking yourself right now: Are delusions of grandeur also a symptom of MS?
And, no, they most certainly are not.
…or are they?
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Lead photo via Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Facebook page.