Thursday 4 October 2007

MS and other things

Maybe you know and maybe you don't, I have MS. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis back in 2002. I'd had repeated incidences of Optic Neuritis (imflamation of the optic nerve) in first one eye then the other. I'd seen doctors and opthamologists and all sorts... and the general consensus was "It's just one of those things". I didn't believe that this could be the case (incidentally, you never should... always press for a concrete diagnosis). So after some more appointments with all sorts I was finally referred to a Neurologist. After an MRI scan his conclusion was 'probably' MS. This was until another few relapses... that changed it to a positive diagnosis.

My Neuro introduced me to the MS Nurse. Apparently it is a bit of a postcode lottery on whether you even get a Nurse... but mine is the greatest. She provides help, support and advice... and is much easier to get an appointment with than the Neuro.

So, things pottered along. Occaisionaly I had a relapse, but fortunately they were usually more irritating than anything else... I'd have another dose of ON or I'd lose the feeling in parts of my body. Until last year. In a space of a few months I had an unreasonable amount of symptons; losing the hearing in my left ear, another bout of ON and losing the feeling in my right foot, then my left side... settling finally to losing the feeling in my left toes (still hasn't come back). This cleared up by the summer, but was followed in the Autumn by a nasty episode of 'wobbliness'. My legs were weak and feeble and I took to using a stick to help me walk.

The outcome of all of this was that the Nurse and Neuro brought up the subject of Disease Modifying Drugs (DMDs) again. I'd always strongly resisted this, primarily because the medication is given by injection and I have a terrible fear of needles! As I'd never been bothered much by my symptons I'd never given it much thought, but the events of 2006 made me decide that it was time to think again. There are four therapies available in the UK, differing in mostly in how often they have to be taken. I chose Avonex as the injection is weekly, and therefore I'd have to have less interaction with the needles! A Nurse came to my house and showed me how to inject myself. The pride I felt after I managed this is probably equalled by the first time I managed to reverse park my car! Injections quickly became pretty routine, although the regular blood tests to monitor my progress can still make me pass out, go figure!

That was last October... and apart from a few moments here and there I'd been pretty much OK. Relapses that did happen hardly impacted on my life and came and went before I had much chance to take notice. Until last week.

Suddenly I started feeling dizzy. No worry I thought. I'd had a bit of that a few weeks previously and it had gone away pretty fast. Work was beyond busy and pretty much every day was a twelve hour day, so I was a bit stressed... which can impact on MS symptons. However, after a few days there had been no improvement and if anything it was getting worse. My trusty stick came out again to stop me falling over. I went to see my GP who gave me a thorough MOT and could find nothing other than MS that could be causing it. He wanted to sign me off work... but I explained to him that I had a pretty major deadline looming and it just wouldn't be very covenient. We agreed that I'd see one of the GPs the following week if nothing improved.

Fastforward to Tuesday. Deadline successfully passed. Back to the GP. The GP insists that I am signed off work and that I make an appointment to see the MS Nurse, which I duly do. She gets the Neuro in and I am prescribed steroids. Steroids can speed up the course of a relapse... so it gets better faster.

So this where you find me now. Stuck in bed until next week with six tablets a day to swallow... and my, they taste bad! This is the first time that a relapse has really impacted on my life in such a major manner. It upsets me a little, as I was doing a pretty good job of ignoring my MS most of the time!!! Still, I am still lucky - there are many, many people who have a far worse time of it than I do.

Nobody knows what causes MS... and there is no cure. Keep an eye out, there maybe some fundraising messages on this page in months to come.