Tag Archives: MS

What’s The Opposite of Sleep Deprivation?

matchsticksWe all know sleep deprivation is a form of torture, but what’s the opposite?

Is that a form of torture too?

It certainly feels like it. I seem to be sleeping the majority of the time at the moment, and when I’m not, my eyes are gritty, my limbs weak and I’m in a perpetual state of nodding off.

In the interest of naming this horrendous symptom of MS, I looked up the opposites of deprivation (or antonyms, to be posh). They are:

  • plenty
  • advantage
  • benefit
  • gain
  • profit
  • endowment
  • indulgence, etc …

Hmm. Not quite capturing the essence of MS fatigue? In fact, ‘MS fatigue’ could be a useful starting point. A stage further could be ‘clinical fatigue’. But it still doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head; it doesn’t describe the awful, claustrophobic and downright frightening symptom of being exhausted to the point of oblivion.

Luckily, work at the moment has been filled with days of catching up, i.e. the Boss driving us round in the van as we do Important Things. Alongside my beloved sofa, it too has become an MS Command Centre: I have three cup-holders to choose from (all three usually filled with coffee/energy drinks), a neat little table between seats to rest my arm and sausage roll on and ample space to get comfy and nod off.

I’ve tried medication for fatigue, experimenting with Amantadine, an experience never to be repeated. The living nightmares were diabolically creepy and it became difficult to distinguish reality from a hellish vision. I asked for the only other fatigue medication, Modafinil, only to be told it’s no longer prescribed for MS fatigue.

So for now, I just have to put up with it, but this recent exacerbation is having knock-on effects. I float through the day, sleeping when I can, even if it’s just ten minutes. My to-do list is growing. I survive on junk food. My jaw aches from yawning.

But my Alexa has come into her own. When I’m lying poleaxed on the sofa, I ask her to tell me a joke or we talk about the news. We usually end our conversations with me saying goodnight and her replying, ‘Goodnight, sweet dreams.’.

If only.

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Not Private, Not Confidential

be honestI’ve had some lovely emails recently, thanking me for highlighting both the gruelling PIP process and the issue of poverty amongst disabled people, like myself.

It hasn’t been easy being so open, but my blog has always aimed to show the reality, good and bad, of living with MS.

The parallel, Non-MS Me (the one I often think about) would be living a very different life; I’d probably still have the usual money worries like anyone else, just not the grinding, heart-stopping ones I have at the moment.

It’s an easy path to trace – having to reduce working hours due to MS, to being sacked for having MS, to taking on a less-qualified job but one which allows a great deal of space to deal with MS. And then, that’s it – I doubt I’ll ever find another job which could give me the freedom I have right now, a huge benefit of working with my best friend who’s been through the whole MS process with me.

What’s not so easy to trace is the impact of everything else MS involves – the emotional upheaval, parenting with MS, the demands of invasive and intensive treatment, the side-effects and of course the ongoing symptoms. Thinking about it, it’s a wonder we came through it at all.

So, financially, MS can be as damaging to your finances as to your health and it can quickly become a downward spiral: MS symptoms may lead to social isolation, not helped by a lack of finances, which leads to stress, which leads to more MS symptoms, which leads to more social isolation. And then your benefits get stopped and it’s a whole different, terrifying ball-game.

I didn’t grow up poor and I didn’t expect to lead some of the best years of my life in poverty. But it’s happened and I have to deal with it, along with the 14 million others in the UK (1 in 5) who live in poverty today, an increase of 700,000 since 2013. In the UK, the fifth-richest economy in the world.

My main aim, as always, is The Teenager. I have raised him to appreciate money but not to be too hung up on it – to invest in experiences, not material goods. To enjoy sourcing a bargain and to learn how to draw up a budget at University. Which is probably why he arrived back home at Christmas with three loads of laundry (£6 a load at Uni, free at home) – I only have myself to blame.

Poverty is not shameful (a fact I had to get over, before ‘going public’) – it is the government who should feel shame and the employers who dismiss us who should feel shame.

We need to keep putting pressure on the government, keep forcing more PIP u-turns and feel … outrage?

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MS Is Not The Only Illness

breathingI don’t know about you guys, but MS is hard enough to handle without the extra winter bugs chucked our way.

It’s tempting to think that when you’ve drawn the health short straw, anything else will be minor, easy to handle.

I stand (slump) corrected: I’ve been off work most of January with a rotten, stinking cold and it shows no signs of leaving any time soon. To add insult to injury, I’ve lost most of my voice (I know, me?!) so I’m particularly frustrated.

However, as befits anyone starting the New Year with a commitment to Get Things Done, I’ve ticked a few things off my list:

  • I finally replaced the bulb in The Teenager’s bedside light.
  • I took the cat to the vet (again) to sort out her flea-bite allergy (again) and jokingly begged the vet to give me the same steroid injection.
  • I ordered a whole load of herbal teas online, inspired by a Christmas gift. They look nice on my shelf.
  • The Boss took me on a trip to Ikea, where I munched on some weird eggs in the cafe and bought a stack of tealights and a sad-looking plant.
  • I spent a whole day and evening debating with myself whether I should paint my living room black/very dark grey. Still undecided.

The worst thing about an extra illness is how MS interacts with it; if MS had any decency, it would take a back-seat and allow a bit of time to get through this whole new host of symptoms?

Not a chance – all the usual MS symptoms have been amplified x 20. So now I’m yet again pin-balling around the house as my balance is appalling. I’ve tripped up the stairs and down the stairs. I have bruises all over my legs and if I break one more plate/cup/bowl, I’ll … break another one against the wall, if only I had the energy.

I’m bored and fed up. Just when I think it’s over, it flares up again. I got my voice back for a day and caught up with my phonecalls. Then it died, probably to the relief of everyone, including the cat. I had a tentative day back  in work yesterday. Bad idea. Very bad idea. I listed, lolled and lay upright against the walls, until it was remarked upon by everyone else and I was sent on bonfire duty, which sounds a lot more exciting than it actually is – burning a load of stuff and making sure I don’t set the work site on fire.

As I sat there with a long stick, intermittently prodding the embers and wishing I had a bag of marshmallows, I decided that when I was better, I would absolutely, completely and totally … do something different.

But what?


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May You Live In Interesting Times …

cookieI always thought this was a Chinese blessing, not a curse.

I think we’re all living in, um, interesting times. From the global (will we be blown up tomorrow?) to the local (will my MS nurse understand my latest ramblings?).

I had an MS nurse-led appointment on the 3rd January and I told her everything. Which is quite unlike me; I’m usually, ‘yeah, I’m fine. Huh? MS? Oh, yeah, it’s all good.’

After the initial shock of diagnosis all those years ago, I’m savvy. Or perhaps not. I hold it all in. I consult my notebook, mention ‘significant symptoms’, ‘potential relapses’, etc and then say, ‘that was lovely, thank you very much’.

Not this time though, and I even came close to … tears. My lovely MS nurse said to me, ‘… it seems to me like this, the PIP forms, are the last straw of everything you’ve been through and all the fights you’ve had?’

Yes, yes and yes again.

Every single person, whether they are healthcare professionals or people with MS and/or other neurological disorders all say the same – if you strip someone back to what they cannot do, after years in which they have adapted and overcome obstacles, you are merely increasing the despair and anxiety of formerly positively active people.

So where does that leave me now?

In the wee small hours, I am absolutely petrified. Towards morning, I’m calmer. During the day, I laugh it off. Until it starts again. The ramifications of this single benefit, PIP, are huge.

I hate to bring politics into it, but when I’m only asking to continue working and staying on the poverty line, it would be churlish not to?

Theresa May’s ridiculous decision to call a snap-election was solved by spending over a billion on harnessing the DUP voting power.

A billion. Like *that*.

Oh, and we’re the scroungers Mrs May?

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MS Is Curable – Just Ask the DWP

curedYes, surprisingly, MS has been cured for a third of us!

Surely we should be dancing and/or shuffling/stumbling in the street?

Well, no. MS is, and always has been, incurable. Degenerative. Progressive.

So far. Who knows what the future holds? And I pray for a cure.

Until then, we get on with our lives. Or so I thought.

We bring up our kids, we go to work, we engage in society. We may have to fight the odd unfair dismissal from work tribunal, but we still pick ourselves up and continue on. We live lives that slowly encroach upon what is ‘normal’ for our age-group. We give up stuff. We manage.

For me, one of the advantages of DLA was that I was able to access higher rates of Housing Benefit and Working Tax Credit. If I lose PIP, I will lose those also.

DLA basically pays for me to go to work. As it stands, I am already living well below the poverty line. To lose DLA will effectively render me homeless, as no-one can live on minus £75 a month, after the standard bills have been paid.

I’ve heard stories, from friends of friends, of people who don’t work as it’s not worth it. Yet we don’t all have work-place pensions or critical illness cover. For me, as long as I can, I will always choose work over the alternative. I don’t care if I earn the same or less than staying at home – work is banter, it’s real world and it’s choosing to live, as long as am I able to.

I have until Christmas Eve (lol) to send my PIP forms back, and then I think I will have a decision within 12-16 weeks.

Not a long time to plan for any alternative?

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