November 20, 2013

Sometimes, serendipity is a scary thing...

I took nursing back in university. My favourite favourite class was microbiology, so much so that I often wondered if I should have hung out there instead of going on to be a nurse.

We had a great prof, who would spice up his 8:30 AM lectures (with many many slides) with unusual pictures,  beer tasting, jokes, and other things that actually kept us awake despite the early hour and the darkened classroom.

My favourite bacterium was Clostridium Perfringens, primarily because it is the cause of the nauseating-sounding gas gangrene. Plus it also hangs out in gut bacteria and leads to food poisoning. 

And it has a cool name.

From Wikipedia:
Clostridium perfringens (formerly known as C. welchii, or Bacillus welchii) is a Gram-positive, rod-shaped, anaerobic, spore-forming bacterium of the genus Clostridium.[1] C. perfringens is ever present in nature and can be found as a normal component of decaying vegetation, marine sediment, theintestinal tract of humans and other vertebrates, insects, and soil.
C. perfringens is the third most common cause of food poisoning in the United Kingdom and the United States though it can sometimes be ingested and cause no harm.
Infections due to C. perfringens show evidence of tissue necrosisbacteremiaemphysematouscholecystitis, and gas gangrene, which is also known as clostridial myonecrosis. The toxin involved ingas gangrene is known as α-toxin, which inserts into the plasma membrane of cells, producing gaps in the membrane that disrupt normal cellular function. C. perfringens can participate in polymicrobialanaerobic infections. Clostridium perfringens is commonly encountered in infections as a component of the normal flora.In this case, its role in disease is minor.
The action of C. perfringens on dead bodies is known to mortuary workers as tissue gas and can be halted only by embalming.

It's a nasty bacteria with a nasty name that rolls off the tongue in a most satisfying way. Imagine - GAS gangrene! It sounds like something out of Harry Potter. I adored it, I loved saying it, I think I even cultured it in the lab.
And now it turns out it may be one of the causative factors in MS:
Of course, early days yet, and I still think Epstein-Barr has the greater role, but I think it's rather amusing that my favourite bacteria might be the cause of my illness.
Of course, I do have holes in my brain, so perhaps I'm not thinking properly about what is funny and what is not. But c'mon, say it with me:

Clostridium Perfringens!

On the good side, every discovery is another step closer to treatment and cure. But maybe, just maybe, first year microbiology students shouldn't be culturing this creature.

November 18, 2013

Montel Williams and the whole MS thing

Normally I am resistant to the whole "I'm a celebrity and I'm suffering with a disease and therefore I can tell everyone else how to live" deal. That started with one of the first books I read about about a celeb with MS who talked about how she had to get her chauffeur to drive her closer to places and how the nanny had to take more hours with the kids, etc. I just don't think the whole illness experience is the same when you can afford multiple live in help people and vacations whenever you want as it is for we regular folk.
Oh and let's not get started on the MD on call thing…
But Montel Williams seems somewhat different. Yeah, there's all this "I feel good" stuff about how MS will "never have him", but most of what he posts seems to be reasonable, and he seems to follow the research, taking the effort to review CCSVI and denounce it for the fraud it is.
On the other hand, he's pushing outrageously expensive multivitamins with mystical ingredients and whopping doses of Vitamin B, and I'm not too sure about all that stuff.
I'm glad Montel can exercise and keep fit and chat with all the experts and all that but his website seems to be pretty much the same stuff you can get from the MS Society (Except they don't push supplements or Fampyra). He might be able to help keep you motivated to exercise (which I think is le plus ultra treatment for MS) with cheery let's go messaging and he is, let's face it, a kind of handsome guy, so not difficult to look at - so if you think he'll help, go sign up for his program.
If you do, let me know what you think. Does he make any sense?
Or is he another very rich guy with personal trainers and cooks who lives well with MS because he can hire everyone to do everything for him?

November 13, 2013

Numbness and by the way, will I notice sex ever again?

I'm sending out my book proposal for the MS and Intimacy book sometime next week. It's sort of funny, because right now the only intimacy I have is with my new adopted cat, who comes over and kneads me.

But all I can think of is the line from "The Truth about Cats and Dogs", where the vet is taking calls from the public on her radio show, and this guy calls in and says his cat likes to lick him and keeps doing it and he seems to have developed a rash (location unspecified). The vet, Janeane Garofalo, says, "You can love your pets, but remember you can't LOVE your pets."

Still, it's nice to be kneaded. As it were.

Meanwhile, numbness continues. If I weren't such a chicken I'd attempt cutting just to see if I'd feel that but heck, I'm in enough pain already, why go ask for more? Besides, the blood is messy.

I remember from my past intimate moments oh so very long ago that one of the fun things was that since so much of my body was numb, the spots that felt, felt EXTRA. It was like a treasure hunt. Nothing, nothing, nothing, WOW, nothing…Fun for play and exploration with a patient partner.

I also remember the summation principle -where the more I was touched, the more synapses would light up so that I could actually feel things, even if they didn't feel where they were touched, but elsewhere, so to speak. Like someone would stroke my arm and I'd feel that in my knees or something. Still felt wonderful. It was as if my partner was adding current to my fried wiring and after a certain point, the lights turned on.

Sometimes it's alarming for my partner, I think. There I am, la di da, yes this is nice, whatever. Did I shut off the stove? And then, kerplowie. Not necessarily THAT kerplowie, but fun anyway.

Anyway, since the cat, handsome as he is, does not have that effect, I'll simply have to remember what it was like for my book.

Memories are nice, too. mmmm.

November 9, 2013

"I have MS but it doesn't have me…"

What a load of malarkey.
Every time I hear this or read some cheery news about how wonderful life with MS is, I want to scream. Really loudly.
Except that I can't because I'd like to accomplish something tomorrow and extremes of emotion exhaust my fried nerves.
It's not that I'm not grateful. Honestly. If I had to have a chronic debilitating disease, MS is at least amusing. It changes and wobbles and is completely unpredictable. It makes every morning an exciting trip of "can I feel this" and "can I stand up without falling over?" and "will I need to nap half the day today?" It's exciting.
But it also sucks, absolutely.
I am tired of trying to live normally only to be hit upside the head with a flare-up or a sudden inability to do math or fatigue so intense I can't get myself out to buy milk, let alone do anything else.
I used to be a can-do type of gal, taking things on and throwing them about, accomplishing three things with my right hand while juggling another two with my left. I could multi-task. I could work with music on in the background
Now I find myself typing okay with one hand while the other lolls about and goes on strike or types at a different speed. My brain packs up and wanders off at odd moments and words go walkabout.
Most of the time I'm fine.
But I can't predict it, see. When my brain goes out on me, it's a sudden thing. I become exhausted in a moment, crash and burn.
And so I find myself limiting my activities, withdrawing from things, gradually detaching myself from positions of responsibility, backing off, choosing things that can be cancelled in a heartbeat.
So, I have MS, and yes, it does have me. By the throat.