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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

And here we go once more

I know that it has been a while since my last posting. Since then, I have been keeping a "personal mobility and health diary" and I can only recommend that you do the same. Record every detail, however insignificant it may seem at the time, at the close of each day. The findings may astound you and may even help to predict some of the oddities associated with this condition. This is best illustrated by example!

Since September 2009, I have made a note of, among many things, the frequency and severity of my headaches. You will need to make notes of the weather on each day, the food you ate and your activities. Try hard not to miss out on things, because every little item may have importance in your analysis. Think of the most blinding headache you have ever experienced and assign it a moderate value of 7. Then assign the recorded headaches values realative to this value. Correlate, after each month, all the data you have collected. Your best bet is to create a spreadsheet of some kind.

In the first column record the date. In the next column record the weather for that day. In the next column record the severity of the headache. The next column record should be the food you consumed and the fluids you ingested. You get the idea for subsequent columns. Once you have the data, you will be able to sort on it and manipulathe data to find correlations.

My personal findings showed that weather only has an effect when the change is more that 5 degrees celsius. Shellfish is a definite No-No and so is cream. Coffee works well to rehydrate and chocolate combined with ibuprofen will work miracles. I discovered much more, but none of it is truly scientific. It has no basis in science whatsoever.

After the first month of recording, I adopted some of the things I thought could help me. I was comfortable predicting, within reason, how I would feel and making minor adjustments which made life a little easier. I was able to manage my headaches more. It goes without saying that this is only one aspect of my recordings, but the others are to juicy for this blog ;-)

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Here we go again

After a busy summer which included a holiday for good measure, things were on the up and up until that fateful day I decided to enjoy myself and found it compelling to push myself ... perhaps to far. The result of my over-enthusiasm was a stumble which resulted in some damage to my shoulder, which is still trying to heal but I feel the healing process is not really committed to performing its assigned task. However, shortly after his injury, I incurred another (mainly because subconsciously I probably felt that I had not injured myself enough and could do better if tried a little harder). This I achieved with a high degree of success by pushing myself down some stairs. The technique I employed was the "sudden absence of one leg required for walking down stairs"!

I joke about it now, but this is happening more frequently than I would like. In practice there is not much that can be done to prevent it from happening. Suddenly, or through a wanton act of gross complacency on my part, one finds that a normally reliable limb will refuse to perform its bio-mechanical function.

I have no solution to offer, except do not let complacency into your life, especially if you have MS. Complacency will injure you and can kill you.

Furthermore, as we (in the northern hemisphere) approach the winter months we will notice the seasonal changes in more marked ways than many other people. We have inadvertantly become living barometers, and will experience relapses and flare-ups of old damage.

To my fellow sufferers, please take care of yourself.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Results are in ... I win!

Once again, its been a while since my last blog but the reasons are good. Some posts ago, I spat feathers - no, I spat the whole chickens, to be sure - about the fact that Health and Safety was used as a means of circumventing the Disability Discrimination Act, in an attempt to re-evaluate my compatibility with current employment. Without waxing too much lyrical on this, I was livid. I was furious, mad and not going down without a fight. In fact, failure was not an option ... how dare this person even contemplate doing this.

I can now report back and claim victory. After some correspondence between this person and the specialists that look after me, I was given the all clear by a more senior member of staff and the verdict returned was "No further action to taken on Michael's disability". This is the result I hoped for because it would permit me to continue doing the job I enjoy doing.

So with all this being resolved a great deal of pressure was suddenly removed. Unfortunately, this is where a problem surfaced, a problem I experience all too often before but never in connection with my MS. I am a workaholic. "Yeah ... hello ... my name is Michael and I am a workaholic! At first I used to work harder once or twice a week, and I found I enjoyed it so much that soon I was working harder and smarter upto 5 times a week"!

I usually stay pretty healthy and "undiseased" while I work, but fall ill too all manner of illness during the first week of all my holidays. Thus, while the pressure and stress is piled on, I am fine and fit, but once it disappears ... I get ill and fall to pieces. Guess what? Once this issue was resolved, the stress was gone and I got ill. I really do love the curve-balls life throws at one.

After the latest illness/flu, I am once again back in circulation and ready, willing and more than able enough to give everyone a hard time. It's what I live for, and when the intended target fights back then I consider this the cherry on top.In this sense I abuse virtually eveeryone I know, but it performs a few vital functions. Firstly, good intelligent heckling pushes your mind and forces you to think faster and more creatively. Suddenly, you are firing neurons and using parts of the brain that may be fairly idle during normal daily activities. Heckling, with intelligence, awakens or reawakens these areas. Secondly, I use heckling as a means of measuring my mental abilities and agility. This allows me to identify any mental performance issues early on, and thus permits me to focus on them.

While I heckle, I can evaluate my speech and determine my response time. I know this is not nice towards my friends, but without knowing it, they are helping me to survive. The brain is certainly the most remarkable organ in our body. Use it, re-use it, and abuse it

Kindest regards

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Things are looking up and up and away

Nonquantifiable (a quantum mechanics term) is the best way to describe my last two weeks. The highs have been awesome, helped in part by the smallest pill in my arsenal of medication. The lows have been few but I managed to hide them well, in my humble opinion. The last thing I want is sympathy etched on the face of every person I meet. Frankly, I find this somewhat irksome and off-putting. I believe my sense of humour and living for the moment allows me to tackle all things thrown at me with a certain je ne sais quoi. I would love to bottle this quality and give it to all my fellow sufferers, but ... alas ...this is simple not possible.

However, I can impart my techniques for dealing with people and this alone may guide you to finding your own way. My method is simple, almost child's play ... and yet ... it's effect is neither diminished nor fleeting. The plain and simple truth is that people do not know how to deal with you as a sufferer of MS. Why? Ignorance! Perhaps, but this may be unfair to them. "Why?" you may ask! Simply because MS is so different from one person to the next. This is where you come in! Your task is to educate the people you meet about your specific difficulties, and always do this with a wink in the eye and a smile on your face. If they see you coping with it in a particular way, then they will accept it and cope with it a likewise fashion.

Never hide the fact that you have MS. It is nothing to be embarrassed about and ashamed of. You have done nothing wrong, like perhaps peeing in your neighbour's garden, to get MS. Throw off all inhibitions sooner rather than later, because eventually you will have to as time progresses.

This is all easily done and, with a little practice, it becomes easier and easier but do not become overbearing and force it down each and every throat you come across. There is nothing worse than being bombarded by a relentless attack of MS information. Be dignified about it, in fact, a little dignity and decorum goes a long way to empowering yourself and enhancing your interaction with those you meet.

Finally, a sense of humour is a necessity. The more you laugh and have an edgy sense of humour, about yourself and everything around you, the more people will respect you and want to be around you. We have MS, so what! We can still be the life of the party. Find a groove that suits you and your temperament. In my case it was a quick wit, lateral thinking and the ability to heckle people and deliver all this with a cheeky grin on my face. I therefore, get away with much more than I possibly should, to be sure, I should probably be locked up if only to save society from me. I don't know of any other person aged 35 who could get away with calling a retiring ex-marine a "punk", and still building a professional and good relationship based on this. My point is that this is only possible if you are engaging enough and do with the right amount of respect and cheekiness.

The way you deal with the world around you DEFINES you, and whatever else you may have is incidental.

This is how I have handled myself even before I was diagnosed with MS, and it is still the way I deal with things now. MS has not slowed me down, in fact each and every flare-up or relapse increases my stubbornness to not let this demon take me. The last two weeks were fraught with numerous instances of speech incapacities, walking difficulties, aches and pains. Pills help, but the greatest pill is in your mind. Leverage the power of your mind and you will find hidden treasures and an awesome arsenal at your disposal. My recent adversity was almost overshadowed by the elation I am feeling at getting two kittens on Friday. I so longed to have a pet and now it's happening and the excitement is rushing through my body like a super-charged virus. Fewer pills but more endorphins, which were produced by ... you guessed it ... my mind and body, made all MS related issues seem inconsequential.

My fondest regards to all of you who read this blog. Thank you.


Sunday, 28 June 2009

Stage 2 - Walking problems

Having hoped that my speech would be the only manifestation of the impending flare-up, I can now safely state that this is not the case. After a particularly heavy week, everything seems to have been placed on hold, but once the stress died away, I was hit by a collection of symptoms. I usually find that the first days of any holiday I take are pretty much given over to coping with all manner of flu's and sicknesses. I guess I am just lucky that way. It's not easy keeping all health issues at bay until I have time to fully enjoy them and make the most of them. I say that I get annoyed by this is perhaps a gross understatement, but I digress. I do find tangents somewhat fascinating and pursue them with alacrity.

Anyhow, back to the original narrative! These symptoms hit me with celerity on Friday evening. Any plans I had for the weekend had to shelved as the old issues reared their ugly heads, very much like a hydra. Walking became a painful exercise which I thought would be dealt with by a few Nurofens. I am becoming well acquainted with a plethora of pills, unfortunately they are quite temperamental and only appear to work occasionally, and never the occasions when I need them to work. Oops ... another tangent. The mind wanders happily and I let it.

After the nurofens, walking was still an issue, perhaps not as painful as before but 2 new symptoms surfaced to challenge me further, namely lack of balance and severe slurring of speech. If you had seen me in this condition, it would have been so easy to argue that I was drunk. The sad truth is that I had nothing to drink. Perhaps I am a cheap date!

I was unable to fall asleep, mostly because of the "pins and needles" all over my body and perhaps aggravated by both the pills and coffee. Yes ... I know that coffee is bad and will keep you awake, but I needed this fix. I was starting to strangle one of the light horsemen of the apocalypse due to the pains, discomfort and coffee deprivation. It was ugly, but I think Pestilence will make a complete recovery.

These flare-ups are, frankly, tedious. Today's bonus is a headache accompanied by its lifelong spouse, double-vision. Kindly, they left their children, nausea and neck-pain, at home wit a child minder. Thank goodness for small mercies. I will take this on the chin as usual, and try to make the most of it. Let us see what else my MS has in store, because if this is it, then it is not particularly ambitious.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Here we go again

I have lost count by now, but my speech is going all over the place again. The words seem to tumble out of my mouth in a rather haphazard manner. The added dimension, which I find strangely yet humorously intriguing, is the plethora of accents that these random words assume.

The day starts with a rather "over-the-top" almost embarrassing German accent. The W's are pronounced as V's and the other letters of the alphabet are subjected to a similar undignified torture.

As the day progresses my speech switches to a heavy Yiddish accent followed by a distinct American drawl. This change is not as severe as it sounds. It's the lunchtime antipodean accent that causes the most trouble. Why? Because this is the time that most people try to contact me by phone, and it is they who think I am poking fun at them! Normally, this would not be an issue, in fact, I usually enjoy poking fun at everyone given half a chance, but my antipodean accent is so heavy and ludicrously bad, that the mere sound of it offends most people. Compared to me, Crocodile Dundee speaks the Queens English.

By mid-afternoon I have still not exhausted my repertoire of accents and I proceed to inflict on anyone who cares to listen, a lilting Irish accent. This accent I find deeply embarrassing because, quite clearly, I am not Irish.

On particularly good days I may even subject my audience to a really bad French and/or Italian accent. With such a bewildering array of accents at my disposal, I may get into serious trouble.

I have therefore decided that should I need to say anything, then I will need to say in Latin. I may offend my fellow Classicists, but they are few and far between and thus easy to avoid unlike all the other population groups mentioned above.

By the way, this piece was written in an Oxford accent! Hopefully I will wake up tomorrow morning sporting an Italian accent and thus make myself a decent cup of coffee.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Sincerest Apologies

I do apologize most sincerely for not posting anything for a while. Due to an increased workload and various committments, and the fact that I mislaid my soap box, posting has been somewhat less frequent. This was compounded by the fact that nothing serious had happened since the last posting, except for the rather "happy but devil-may-care" attitude I have had towards everything of late. I suppose I could blame the new drug that I am on, however, this may be unfair.

I did read the volume of side-effects that this drug may or may not have. What really annoys me is that all the side-effects are listed as "may or may not", thus "you may or may not experience weight gain" which is immediately followed by "you may or may not experience weight loss". Does anybody else think this is as ridiculous as it sounds? Frankly, this leaves you with no options either way. In the same volume the following appears, "you may or may not experience an increase in appetite, you may or may not experience a loss in appetite, you....". For this reason alone, I cvall it a side-effects volume. It "talks" much but "says" very little.

It must be said that I have experienced a substantial improvement since taking this drug, and it is also "soft-core" as opposed to the more "hard-core" Amytrypteline.

I will keep you updated on this. Promise!