When I was first diagnosed with MS several health professionals told me that most of my symptoms, particularly ones involving sensation, would eventually become the ‘new norm’ for me. Take my feet for example, they were one of the first things to be affected when I noticed a vague tingling one morning, which turned into full-blown pins and needles that lasted for a couple of days before turning heavy and numb – and that’s the way they’ve remained for over 7 years. I never thought I could ever get used to it and it did my head in. I was reminded of this weird new sensation / feeling – or LACK of feeling with every step that I took. Sandals and flip flops no longer stayed on my feet and I developed a funky new walk that made me look a bit like I was wearing flippers and involved keeping my head firmly down so that I could watch exactly where I was placing each foot. I also couldn’t feel the pedals in the car; for a couple of years I was too scared to drive! But, you know what? This MS quirk HAS become my norm. Sure, if I think about my feet I notice how they feel (or don’t feel…) but I’m so used to it now, I honestly can’t remember what it felt like to ‘have’ feet. When driving I’ve learned to judge the vibrations of the pedals, although I sometimes still rev the engine a bit too enthusiastically, particularly if I can’t hear the accelerator over the noise of the traffic #boyracer. Anyway, I’m rambling somewhat and let’s face it, when you have MS there’re so many other things going on with your body to distract from numb feet!
It’s been a while since I had any NEW symptoms – although MS is ever-present for me, nothing NEW new new has happened in a while. Until, that is, last Thursday… I was innocently typing when I noticed that the keys felt funny – kinda spongy and not quite ‘there’. What I was typing was coming out all gibberish and my fingers wouldn’t do what I was telling them to do (nor are they as I type this for that matter – don’t worry I am queen of proof-reading!). And there you have it, a NEW symptom just like that, no warning just BAM – you’ve already lost your feet; now those pesky MS monsters have taken your hands too. As all MS warriors out there will know MS is notoriously unpredictable and new symptoms can arise at any time and they may or may not go away. With MS there is simply no knowing. So, is this it? Am I ever going to get my hands back? Have they gone forever? I am supposed to be thinking positively, but that’s very difficult when I am reminded of the numbness with EVERYTHING that I do. Turns out we use our hands A LOT. Picking things up, holding something, texting, typing, writing, using cutlery, cleaning teeth, turning the page of a book (or worse, a magazine), buttons, zips, holding hands, stroking a cat… One thing’s for sure, you cannot take anything for granted – you just don’t know when something may be taken from you. Ouch, that sounds a bit deep. But it’s true. Getting new symptoms, being struck with a relapse or discovering that your MS is progressing is like being diagnosed all over again. Just when you think you’ve found acceptance it can hit you like the great big smack of a stegosaurus tail in the face.
First published 14 July 2017