Tag Archives: foot drop

Aw, No, Not Again?

My three worst MS symptoms are fatigue, nerve pain and brain fog, in no particular order.

To a lot of people, this sounds fairly manageable; we all get tired, a bit fuzzy in the old brain and we all have aching legs and arms? Yes, but, I’m only telling you the three worst symptoms, and there’s plenty more.

Anyway, I like to think I’m quite savvy with my MS comings and goings, yet it never, ever fails to surprise me.

Long story short, the MS fatigue is back with a vengeance and it means serious business. On Sunday, I felt so tired, I actually wanted to throw up. I flung myself on the sofa and was dead to the world for two hours. On Monday, I called in sick to work and went back to bed. Twice.

I went to work today (I have to, bills), navigated the terrain really well and luckily we finished early. My lovely boss even walked up the road and payed a cheque in for me while I sat on the door step of the house we are working at, feeling quite useful as I watched out for parking wardens.

Back home, I got out of the works van, stood on the ground, then my left leg gave way and I just collapsed. Bit embarrassing, extremely painful, hope the neighbours didn’t see.

So I have a flare up and it’s a bad one. I haven’t been like this for months. Every part of me is saying, ‘breathe, take it easy, it’s fine’, but inside I’m fretting. I’ve already missed so much time off work and studying has been pared back to the absolute minimum.

Brain fog has ensured that for the last two weeks I’ve run out of stuff to watch on Netflix and Amazon and am looking forward to the next series of ‘Married at First Sight’. Anything is easier than picking up books.

I’m trying to look after myself though – the boss makes sure I get to shops for food, he’s understanding about the time off and he cheers me up no end when we’re sat in the van putting the world to rights, as builders do. He even bought me a burrito today and expressed surprise when I swooped in on his leftovers, ‘nom, nom, first cooked food I’ve had in days‘.

I know this will pass, it’s just that awful sinking feeling when you know you’ve got to ride out the latest setback. I’ve instigated Code Red, the Ten Minute Tomato Rule – try ten minutes of everything. So laundry is in machine. Cat is fed (she’s on a Whiskas strike and will only accept Sheba – it’s a battle of attrition). I vacuum for one minute every other day and take nine minutes out.

It will all be fine. In the end.

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Never Rains But It Pours

It started innocently enough – my bargain Gumtree washing machine juddered and jumped around the kitchen floor with a full load and then died.

With one last gasp, it dropped its drum, then coughed some water out on to the floor.

My PhD student loan faced obstacle after obstacle and I was in danger of having my email access revoked for non-payment of fees.

The Cat decided she no longer liked Whiskas and a bumper pack of tender chunks lay dormant in the cupboard.

So far, so annoying.

Then that awful phone-call from The Teenager. I should have known; it was around 8.30 am, when few Uni students are awake.

He had been assaulted by a group of men after a night out.

What can you say?

I was numb. He had been to hospital, where they put his dislocated shoulder back into place. Two female students helped him and a homeless man bought him a bottle of water. He was bruised, upset and angry. The police interviewed him.

So far, so soul-destroying.

I went to see him last night. My overriding feeling is one of thankfulness that I am not in that group of parents who, instead of hearing from their child, have an anonymous police officer or surgeon on the phone.

He’s shaken up, bruised and shocked, as am I.

Driving back home in the vicious rain, my anger shook me to the core. It’s taken me 19 years to raise a fabulous child, through all the trials and tribulations, and yet a random group of people can flip that on its head, in an instant.

I collapsed into bed and got up for work four hours later.

As a random aside, foot-drop has been haunting me for a while and I thought I had the better of it, concentrating so hard on placing my feet where they should be. I had a narrow escape last week, tripping over a bit of dust and twisting my usually-weak right ankle.

This afternoon, at the end of a very long day in work, when I was at the back of the van, I saw it happen in slow motion. My left foot dropped, I regained my balance  (congratulated myself) and then foot-dropped a second time in a pile of mud.

I thudded to the ground, smashing my ankle and hands. Embarrassed, furious and scared.

I think/hope we have now had our run of bad luck. The Teenager will recover, older and wiser, sadly. We have new washing machine, ready for his Christmas break washing. My ankle will heal.

I’m hobbling around making our cottage Christmas-ready.

I’m still furious.

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Safe Haven or Prison?

homeI had a very interesting chat about the early stages of my MS the other day.

One thing that cropped up again and again was how isolated I felt.

The foot-drop, the stumbling, the jaw-dropping fatigue – they all conspired to keep me at home.

I no longer socialised, preferring to invite my few remaining friends over to mine instead, where I could lounge on the sofa, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t judge me or the amount of tears I cried. Or how much cake I scoffed.

I went out far less and began to place internet shopping orders for everything – groceries, books, a radio, even a packet of batteries. My lovely squishy sofa became a hateful place where I spent hour after hour sleeping my life away.

My window was a torture instrument, displaying an endless reel of everything I was missing out on. My kitchen morphed into an obstacle course, showing off the ingredients that lay rotting in the fridge and languishing in the cupboards. Meals were ready-made and unsatisfying.

In short, my home became a prison, and the more I was isolated, the more I became isolated. It seemed a vicious circle and one I couldn’t find an escape from. I realised I was in serious danger of living my life from my sofa, comfort-eating, feeling sorry for myself and developing a serious lounge-wear habit.

I don’t often talk to myself, preferring to offload to the cat instead, but this time I gave myself a shaking down. This had to stop. I used to love my house – it was a place where I was bringing up The Teenager. I had stamped our style all over it; it was fun, bright, comfortable and, well, home.

Over the next couple of months, I ventured a little further out. Ok, I got tired, I tripped up. I dropped a whole cup of coffee over myself. I started to think, who cares? And why do I care so much? It wasn’t easy. It was painful and embarrassing, but the alternative, that looming prison-home was far worse.

Nowadays, I have accepted that life will never be like before. Spontaneity has gone, never to be seen again. The rules have changed and I have to change with them or be left behind. I’ve worked out my high-energy points and low-energy points and put them to good use. I accept there will be down times, when I have to rest or pay the consequences. I make the most of the up times.

My house has returned to it’s former state – it is a place I feel safe and comfortable in. I love it. I love my squishy sofa. I love my kitchen – it plays host to fresh ingredients and a sprinkling of ready-meals and they happily co-exist. I have a stack of books ready for when all I can do is slump on the sofa, as elegantly as possible.

And now, when I’m having a really bad MS week, I’m tussling with my house again. I have a pile of uni books to read and I could do with wrapping myself in clingfilm and lying down somewhere quiet in a bid to lose weight.

My house could be a prison, or it could be a safe haven I can return to …

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The One About the Courgettes

courgettesI am a walking, stumbling slapstick comedy.

I’m desperately trying to see the funny side but yesterday took the biscuit (or courgette, now I’ve gone over to the Paleo side).

The shelves in my kitchen are groaning under the weight of vegetables so yesterday I decided to tidy them into neat heaps, reds/purples to one side and greens on the other with mushrooms and onions somewhere in between.

I found myself with a courgette in each hand and paused momentarily to give them a gentle squeeze – ‘cook tonight? Can I bear another courgette spiralized into tasty noodles?’

Having made my decision, ‘nah, not tonight’, I turned to pop them on the green pile. However, my left leg decided to stay where it was (such is the contrary, tantrum-y behaviour of MS), next to a curtain hanging over the back door to keep out the Welsh damp and random mice entrails dumped by the cat – a rather fetching print of bookshelves. Anyway, the last thought that went through my mind was, ‘must save the courgettes’.

I twisted, pesky leg still refusing to behave, caught my other leg in the curtain, spun in a circle and landed face down on my kitchen floor, courgettes held aloft. I lay there, gazing at the ceiling before hurling the courgettes against the fridge, where they bounced off and landed on the kitchen table, knocking my coffee over and scattering post-it notes.

Courgettes are dangerous.

It wasn’t the best MS day yesterday – a lot of my symptoms are ramping up and it’s getting harder to keep them under control. After the Courgette Incident, I had to go to the surgery for my monthly Alemtuzumab blood test. Perhaps sensing I had a day off work, my feet decided to do a little American line dance rather than behave. I jigged into the surgery, danced in front of the electronic booking-in computer, took a seat and watched as my feet twitched and jerked. Fun.

It was also, of course, my first day back in Uni after the Christmas break. We were a packed class, rapt as we listened to the history of the Flâneur (basically a nosy people-watcher from the last century who then writes about it). Trying to look semi-intelligent, I rested my face on my hand, elbow on the desk. Out of nowhere, my fingers started to twitch so badly it looked like I was sending dodgy signals to the tutor.

I sat on them. Wish I’d done the same to the courgettes.

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Dragging My Feet….

don't panicYou know when you wake up with a brand spanking-new MS symptom?

That heart-stopping moment when all your worst fears come crashing in on you?

Yup. This happened last week. A normal morning – coffee, cat, catch-up with paperwork, countdown to waking The Teenager.

Except that morning was different. My foot refused to play fair. It gave up the ghost, schlepping behind me like a stroppy Teenager (and boy, do I have experience of that).

Panic rose and I quelled it. The next day, same thing. And the next. A new symptom. Probably every person with MS’s worst nightmare.

I decided to beat it at it’s own game, determinedly lifting the naughty foot with every step. Only problem was, I looked ever so slightly odd. Exaggerated. Like I was walking in slow motion to the ‘Chariots of Fire’ theme tune.

I ran it past the MS nurse (the problem, not my foot) but declined an appointment. ‘I’ll be fine!’. I ran it past the chiropractor who urged me to call the MS team. ‘I’ll be fine!’ I put it out my mind. But it stayed and I dragged my foot round the house. Finally, I took the offered appointment.

What’s worse? Being told it may be a relapse or it may not be a relapse? It doesn’t really matter either way, I won’t take any more steroids. I can’t bear the thought of waking up at 2am and having a strong compulsion to dust all the lightbulbs and clean the skirting boards, such is the bizarre energy those tiny tablets give me. Plus they destroy taste buds. And I pack on the weight no matter how many edamame beans I eat.

So I am in a kind of weird limbo. I worry that the endless relapses have found a sneaky way through the Campath treatment I had. I worry about my mobility – the defining point of being accepted as ‘relatively normal’ within societal boundaries.

Above all, my dodgy, annoying, schlepping foot has dominated the last week. I am panicking. Ever so slightly.

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