Pain woke me up
Pain is a part of living with chronic illness. When a new pain is felt it is easy to fall into a feeling of despair. This is how I overcome despair.
It woke me up, the pain. A dark room, pain in both thighs, shoulders and neck and I became disoriented. Suddenly being pulled from a deep slumber does not happen to me. Sleep is the one thing that I am good at, and waking up in the middle of the night is unusual, very unusual. What made this even more frightening was this pain, this tightness in my thighs, was new. My right leg is slow, it gets tired, but it never spontaneously felt painful. Knowing what to do at a time like this is difficult. Groggy and barely conscious I gradually understood that this beast that is Multiple Sclerosis had found a new way of attacking my vulnerable body.
Lying in bed, I refocused my thoughts away from the pain and tried to relax. Overheated (my pyjamas were wet) and scared I uncovered myself to start the process of cooling my body. Calming down, and letting my body loosen up, trying to take the tension out of my muscles. After a period I was able to return to sleep. Crisis averted, briefly.
In the morning
When I woke up my thighs were still sore, aching and crampy. One of the symptoms of MS is spasticity which is a tightness of the muscles. It can come and go, or become permanent. It could be beneficial if your limb is weak, or a hindrance if you are mobile. Everyone experiences this differently. For me, this is new. For the last four years, my various complaints have steadily become worse from a ten-year sabbatical from the disease, aided by Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN). Increasing disability has happened as a result of a car accident that caused whiplash induced headaches. Up to last Monday, I was no worse than I had been 14 years ago when I started LDN.
Now my mind has started to catastrophise and thoughts of a full relapse, or possibly Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, have entered my head. My meditation on Tuesday extended beyond the usual 20-30 minutes, and my journal entry was full of anger. The person who crashed into me that summer’s day has no idea of the consequences of their inattention on my life. The benefit of my morning routine purged these useless thoughts from my head and spurned me into action.
I made an appointment with my doctor, phoned the physiotherapist, and started to research what I could do to help me manage or control the impact of this new pain in my life. Fearing being put on a series of pain medication that would numb my body, and add an additional fog to the fatigue induced cloud the is continually frustrating my ability to be productive. My initial research has shown that exercise is vital, keeping my muscles moving, will help.
Now my swim will have to be much more than maybe once or twice a week. At least three days, and it really should be a minimum of four. On Wednesday I did a length of the swimming pool breaststroke, then one length freestyle and the next walking. For 25 minutes this was my routine. It will now have to become part of my weekly, keep Robert healthy, strengthening programme. Hopefully, this will also have a positive effect on my fatigue too. Those beautiful endorphins should be coursing through my veins, feeding me with positive, and pleasurable, feelings.
My doctor has referred me to my neurologist, and we will formulate a game plan, and in just over a week I will see the physiotherapist. The key for my mental health is that I am taking action, looking for a creative solution, and critically, leaving the reason why I am in this situation, etched in ink on the pages of my journal. The past is passed. Looking back will have no impact on my future path.
Thank you for reading, and I will keep you updated.