MS: My Dark Passenger

Multiple Sclerosis; MS; the Monster; the Beast; there are so many names for this disease that people refer to it as. “Oh the monster is showing it’s ugly face again today”, someone might say when experiencing some sort of flare. I have never called my MS anything, it just wasn’t me, I always felt a lot of these names were too… cute? They didn’t do the evil known as Multiple Sclerosis any justice I suppose. For my MS, I called it as it was; my MS. I never called it anything else because nothing really seemed to fit my MS as I experienced it, so no nickname from me.

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What is Drop Foot in Multiple Sclerosis?

You’re just going for a simple walk around the neighborhood, something you have done every day for as long as you can remember. All of a sudden you trip. You look around to see what caused you to stumble to find nothing but clean sidewalk. You keep on walking; it happens again! After a few days this keeps happening more and more frequently; you trip over your own foot. Soon you realize that your foot is constantly dragging. You take a step forward but your toes don’t lift up off the ground and instead slide across the floor. This is called drop foot (or foot drop).=&0=& There is a muscle on top of the foot called the Extensor Digitorum Brevis muscle which is in charge of lifting the toes upwards (this motion is known as dorsiflex). When you take a step this muscle should activate lifting the toes up and away from the ground but when you’re experiencing drop foot it fails to do this leaving the toes limp. Since they are not being pulled up and away from the ground they drag into it which can cause you to trip. Why is this muscle not activating properly? Well, Multiple Sclerosis attacks the Myelin sheath around your nerves which affects their conductivity. Somewhere along the path that the electrical signal must flow from your brain to your foot to activate that muscle is a lesion preventing the signal from reaching the Digitorum Brevis muscle in charge of lifting your toes. This results in what is called foot drop. =&1=&

Drop foot is a very common MS symptom so it gets a lot of attention as far as treatment options. Like any other symptom, it should go away in time with or without the use of steroids. If it persists however, there are a few things you can do to make walking easier. Most commonly used is an AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis) which is a flexible plastic brace that fits under your foot and straps around your lower shin to keep your toes pointed upwards enough to allow you to walk. Most AFO’s are discreet enough that they fit comfortably inside your shoe and remain hidden under your pants.

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A Dream Within a Dream… Flare Up?

I
have always had pretty weird dreams… Weird as in the “presentation
not just the content. “How
I have these dreams”, “How I see
these dreams”, I am not sure how else to put it. Here is a simple
example; sometimes I have dreams (like most people) where I am the
focus of the dream, I am the “main character”, wether it’s
“normal” me or “spiderman me”. Sometimes however I have
dreams like my consciousness is watching a film in which I am in no
way shape or form involved. I can’t effect the course of the dream, I
can only watch and see what happens. Third person not first person,
make sense? My friend Rodney and I started labeling some of the weird
dream phenomena we experience as “dream logic” like when for an
entire dreams one of the characters in it (let’s say George) all of a
sudden becomes “Lillian” and that is not weird to anyone
in the dream, it’s like it was always that way; Dream logic. This
just scratches the surface of the way I dream but for now that is all
you need to know.

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Met With an “MS Friend” & My Coffee Habit

Yesterday I met up with an MS friend of mine who I have met in the past. She is just a tad older than I am and does not live too far away so we met for coffee (her brother who is also named Matt drove her). It was nice to talk to someone in person who you have *something* in common with, someone who understands what your talking about when you describe the weird MS stuff that to most people is indescribable. Meeting up was a bit tricky due to some GPS issues but eventually we were all in the same place and it was nice.

I learned something that day though… my coffee habit is once again getting out of control. You see, before I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis I worked next door to a coffee shop. I went there every day, sometimes twice a day. I would have coffee before work, write, read, go to work and sometimes go right back for a while. They all knew me by name, in fact, I would walk in and not even stand in line to order a drink. They just knew what I wanted and would start making it up for me. I started getting close to a girl who worked there and I remember helping her rearrange the shop once… Good times…
After I was diagnosed with MS I stopped drinking coffee because the caffeine was really bad for my restless leg syndrome (RLS) and cutting the coffee cold turkey (when I drank as much as I did) caused the worst withdrawal head aches ever! Once it was out of my system I did well and stayed away from coffee for years. In the last few months I have been drinking coffee again, it just helps me with so many things that medication just doesn’t. Here is the thing; I started off with one cup every other day and just one teaspoon of the instant stuff (I know, I know, instant…). Then it was two teaspoons… then it was everyday… Now it’s 2 and a half teaspoons everyday and if I don’t drink it I feel so tired! I was afraid of this…
Yesterday I tried skipping my morning coffee and I went to physical therapy. I was so tired I had to leave early! When I met up with my friend at a coffee shop I told them I needed the strongest stuff they had. They made me what they called a red eye something… Red eye? If it helps people on horribly late flights that should help me out right? It was so nasty! Black and strong! I added probably 4 sugars, coco powder, vanilla, everything I could. I finished it and I barely felt “neutral”. Oh man this is so bad. I really did not want this to happen but I would rather this than the Nuvigile! Coffee doesn’t give me the shakes anymore and no headaches but still… Dependency sucks
Oh, random, but I am noticing I am walking a little more steady. I can walk with a glass of liquid (not all the way full of coarse) without it spilling all over the place! So that is good. Go physical therapy!

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