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Multiple Sclerosis Is Like a Box of Chocolates

A few Sundays ago, I woke up with a tingling sensation in my left fingertips.

It was irritating but unfortunately, when you have multiple sclerosis (MS), waking up with new or odd sensation is a common occurrence. Life goes on.

The next day, the feeling had spread beyond my fingertips to my entire hand and each finger from trunk to nail.

Soon, my left hand, forearm, shoulder and leg all felt numb.

It was as if an alien life force, from the planet MS, had taken over the left side of my body.

You know that feeling you get when you wake up and your “arm is asleep?”  That’s probably the best way to describe it.  Except, much to my dismay, my hand, arm and leg never woke up.

Eventually, this alien force decided to concentrate all of its efforts to my left hand.

My hand still looks perfectly normal; however, it feels like a heavy weight is attached to it, as I raise it or swing it by my side.

When I open and close my palm, it feels like I’m grabbing a bean bag chair. I can almost hear the imaginary pebbles moving around as I make a fist.

My friend, an orthopedic hand surgeon, suggested some hand exercises to try, which I’ve done on a regular basis.  A few times, the kiddos have even joined me.

But the tingling and numbness remain, now as mere background music in my day-to-day life, but with my left hand mostly useless.

And that’s where I’m at today.

If you are fortunate enough to have two functional hands, imagine getting washed and dressed in the morning with only one.

Showering, washing hair, putting on deodorant, brushing teeth, shaving… no menial task is spared and the experience has become my own little obstacle course.

Then there is getting dressed. Tying shoes and fastening buttons has proved difficult with very little dexterity in my left hand.

Leaving my bedroom, life awaits me…

Per tradition, I always bring my wife coffee to start her day.

My son still wants to play basketball and my daughter still asks me to pick her up and throw her in the pool.

As for myself, writing stories is a major part of my life.

And it even extends to the minor things like signing my name, opening doors, scratching an itch.

But the sun still rises and the world continues to spin, regardless of MS.

So, I do what seems like the only reasonable response: I fight on.

When getting washed in the morning, I accept my limitations and know it’s going to take a lot longer. While putting on clothes, I avoid buttoned shirts or shoes with laces, unless truly needed. While shaving, I’m extra careful to not cut myself.

Getting undressed has proven difficult. My left hand is somehow able to manage putting shorts on, but as for taking them off, I struggle – finding very little success. My solution, a work-in-process, has been to slide them off, avoiding the buttons altogether.

Bringing my wife coffee is still possible but with extra care taken as I walk upstairs, holding the hot mug.

I still play basketball with my son, I just do it mostly one-handed. Thankfully my daughter is still small enough that I can throw and play with her in the pool, using my left hand sparingly.

And, I continue to write…

It’s been frustrating, but I’ve adapted to my new “normal.” I still use my right hand to type, but with my left, only my third finger hunts and pecks away, metaphorically giving the middle finger to MS.

To borrow from, Mr. Gump:

MS is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Or, more directly:

One moment you’re worried about face twitching, the next, you can’t even dress yourself.

One week you struggle with shooting pains, the next, you struggle to type a complete sentence.

One day you are unable to see clearly, the next, your wife has to help you cut your steak at a fancy restaurant because of a numb left hand.

With, MS, you truly never know what you’re gonna get.

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Thinkstock Image By: RobertoDavid