Most of us with relapsing-remitting MS will be familiar with examining every tiny little symptom and asking, ‘is this a relapse or am I just being over-sensitive/paranoid?’. We live in constant fear and easily forget how, pre-MS, we got sick anyway and sometimes we felt under par or just generally a bit rubbish.
Post-MS, the situation shifts. A relapse is bad news. They can last for as little as a few days or for as long as several months and initially the symptoms can be confusing. I can quite honestly say, I have never analysed my health in so much ridiculously fine detail. I wake up every morning and lie there for a little while mentally scanning through my body. How do I feel? Anything odd? Ok, get out of bed. How’s my balance? Am I a bit more wibbly on my feet than usual? Standing in the shower, can I raise my hands ok? It is constant.
One day, I woke up from an afternoon nap in blind terror. My left hand was numb. I couldn’t move it at all and I began to panic – how would I change gears in the car, how could I go shopping with a dud hand? You can imagine how stupid I felt when I realised I had slept on it.
So I play a constant game of relapse hide and seek. If I pretend there’s nothing really wrong, well, there’s nothing really wrong, is there? I’ll just stay one step ahead of the game. MS is like a constant heat-seeking missile, on the prowl, stalking you all the time. Just for fun, you can also have a pseudo-relapse, a temporary flare up, commonly triggered by stress, heat or exertion.
I think this is what happened to me last week. I had a friend over for wine and a gossip, but I felt odd (before the bottle was opened….) – a spaced-out feeling I normally get at the start of a major relapse. I tried to shrug it off and laugh about it, but in the back of my mind, I was running away and hiding. Fast. Luckily, it came to nothing and I woke up fine the next day.
For now then, I am relapse-free and I hope to remain so for a good time yet. Until we meet again, Mr Relapse, go away and leave me in peace….