November 17, 2011

medication tango

Being a "patient with MS" means being a patient on a cocktail of drugs, most of the time. They pitch and yaw you, spinning you between spasm and lethargy, dizziness and balance, drowsiness and energy. It's like walking a balance board with wobbly bits. There's temptation on that balance board, too. But you always pay.
Today, for example, I am totally stoned. Last night I took my usual medication to stop my legs kicking violently - it's a benzodiazapine and I've stayed on the same dose for a long time, for which I am proud, as these drugs are addictive, habit-forming, and require, usually, a regular upping for effect. I might, in fact, need to up mine as I wake so often at night, but I'm fighting that fiercely.
And last night I took a full pill for my leg spasms - baclofen - the mystical drug that has put so many people into wheelchairs. See, the same controls that make your legs spasm painfully are also the ones that make them able to hold you up. Usually I take a half pill. I didn't last night, wanting to try to sleep an entire night for a change.
So today I can barely see outta my eyeballs. I am too tired to drink my coffee. Taking the dog for his morning walk was like a trip in my head - I have little remembrance of the event, not of the temperature of the day or the smells of the air or anything. I finished my shower without noticing the plug was in the tub so the water was up over my ankles. Fair enough, I can't feel my feet anyway, but I should have noticed the sloshing...
So, I'll have to adjust down again and deal with the hours of nightmares I have every night, probably caused by my waking in the midst of them. And be tired because of that. And have painful bum spasms when I walk. Tra la tra la!
Added to that, I've been taking big doses of Vitamin D, 4000 iu a day, and now I find out it seems to be tied to heart disease. So will have to adjust that as well.
Of course, my copaxone dose remains the same. Always. No matter what I weigh or how ill I am. This baffles me, and makes me doubt it's efficacy, especially since I don't seem to be holding steady in my disease.
But maybe it's all just drug reactions? Or interactions? Or something?
I hate having to learn new dance steps all the time.

November 3, 2011

does being numb make my soul numb?

Being numb now for over a year, I often wonder what other effects it has on me. I'm not totally numb - as I've noted, sometimes I have pieces of sensation. The numbness is becoming more profound, though - affecting my balance, my ability to write and type and chop bagels without injury, blocking inner sensations from bladder and bowel and other more interesting places. (Dang it!)
Neurologists invariably say they are less concerned with numbness as a symptom than the other things like muscle weakness and such. It's not supposed to be so serious. And yet, it changes our lives.
 For those of us so enclosed, it's pretty disabling. It disconnects me from the world, makes it seem like I'm watching outside me through a pane of glass - and with my blurring vision, that isn't so great. And it has this other effect, too, of making me feel distant from people, from the world, like I'm shut in a padded room where even the room temperature doesn't make me feel.
Philosophically, it makes it difficult to care. Because I feel distant, I have to constantly make an effort to reach out through the fluff to touch others. It's easier to remain inside, where I don't have to make the effort.
  Maybe the exterior numbness is contributing to depression. I know I've battled depression for years now, and wading around there in the darkness does make things seem muted, edges less sharp, needs less urgent. I find as I get more depressed or more numb, I go for exotic tastes, different experiences, more carbs.
I probably just need to exercise more, to thrash my wooly body through space so that I can get a feeling for where my limbs are. Usually that helps The deep breathing helps, too. The exercise makes me more numb, but somehow makes that all right after all.
But oh, it would be nice to feel certain things again: the fur of my puppy, the touch of my friend's hand, the roughness of sand, the smoothness of rocks, the barrel of a pen when I pick it up to write.
And let's not spend too much time on this, but it would be smashingly lovely to feel making love again. Or a bit more, anyway. 
Maybe I need those steroids. Might help my sex drive, too. Of course, would grow more hair to be fried off by my friendly local electrologist, but it could be worth it...I hear ZZTop are still doing pretty well at their advanced ages...

Here are a couple of things from the National MS Society (which as usual, is the name of the US branch - why they think the rest of the world isn't a nation, I dunno) on numbness. Reality is, if you've got it, you're screwed. Not that you'll notice...

There are no medications to relieve numbness. Fortunately, however, most instances of numbness are not disabling, and tend to remit on their own. In very severe cases, a neurologist may prescribe a brief course of corticosteroids, which often can temporarily restore sensation. National MS Society