A SLOW SMOLDER… LIVING WITH MS

They are my Neurologist’s words, not mine, but they well describe what’s going on in my body for the last 17 years. Indeed it is a slow smolder, not a description that is particularly pleasing to the guy on fire. At least it’s not raging .

I thought I’d scrawl a few words because there seems a deficiency in people’s understanding of what MS is. Do understand that my knowledge of it is rudimentary, but might be sufficient to get you through the quiz at the end of this post.

Think of a wire that transports electricity. That is essentially what nerves in the body do. Nervous impulses are electricity transported throughout the body via millions of nerves.

Surely you’ve observed electrical wires. They are coated with an “insulation” so that short-circuiting is prevented in case one touches the other. Nerves have an insulation, too. The insulation of nerves is called myelin.

MS, essentially, is the deterioration of myelin that coats the body’s nerves. It may be accurately said, then, that yours truly is a walking, talking short circuit !! What happens when one is short circuiting through life, you might ask.

There are many answers to that question. Some shorts are innocuous enough, some are outright dangerous. One that comes to mind quite clearly well-demonstrates a bodily short circuit: I’m holding a small block of wood in my left hand. My brain tells me to place that little block up in the cabinet over there on my right side.

That, of course, requires my left arm to reach across my front and up to the intended cabinet on my right side. Duh! You knew that. But my left arm won’t move ! My brain has just sent an electronic message to perform this simple task, but my left arm remains stock-still. It is lifeless for the moment. Couldn’t move it if I tried.

The consequences of this condition are obvious. Short circuiting while parking a car is NOT a good thing, much less driving a car. Relinquishing my license was a profound result; yet another downward notch in the quality of life spiral. Bouts with vertigo don’t help either.

I won’t bore you with the list of complications other than to say that it’s not pretty. Balance is a huge issue. There is an unending fear of cracking my noggin with a fall.

Urinary and bowel control issues add to the fray.

Fatigue is, for the most part, constant. My hearing is shot and much of what I used to be able to do physically is down the quality of life drain.

Other than that, things are pretty good. ( I love that line. A little humor diffuses the litany!)

So, that in a nutshell is life with MS, the slow smolder. You may wonder, is there any pain with all of this? That’s where I luck out ; just a little on the emotional side.

I had mentioned that a quiz awaited here at the end. I was just kidding.

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