This post discusses medical stuff. I’m not a doctor and I’m not your doctor. Nothing here is meant to be either giving or asking for medical advice.
I find reading about other people’s accounts of their weird medical experiences fascinating. Maybe this will be interesting to you.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Recap
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic (i.e. you live with it) disease that causes your immune system to attack your nervous system. This can cause a host of neurological symptoms (vertigo, difficulty walking, tingling, reduced eyesight, mood and speech issues, etc. etc. etc.) and it gets worse over time as the damage to the brain and spine accumulates.
I have it.
The Third Attack
For a lot of people (including yours truly), MS operates in two stages. Most of the time, you’re in your day-to-day baseline that’s stable. Occasionally, it’s interrupted by a significant worsening of symptoms (and/or an appearance of new ones) that lasts several weeks. This is called an attack or relapse.
You can read the account of my last attack here.
In the early April, a new one started and as of right now, it’s still ongoing. It is different enough that for a few days I hadn’t even realised it was an attack.
My left leg started to feel a little weird. It felt numb, with tingling, occasionally pins and needles. And just… wrong, somehow. At first, I thought it may have been just cold or the leg went asleep or something, but it persisted no matter what I did (walked around, increased the temperature in the room, took a shower, etc.).
It also seemed like it’s spreading. I don’t know when I’ve noticed it first, but it didn’t affect my lower back, belly and private parts right away. I’ve also realised that the skin was getting quite sensitive.
The weirdest thing though was that the altered sense of temperature. Anything that was cold started to feel warm. I’ve first noticed that on the loo as the toilet seat (which is generally slightly cooler than one’s body unless you’ve got those fancy heated ones) felt warm on the left side while the right side had the normal slightly cool feeling.
So next time in the shower, I aimed a stream of cold on it. It was absolutely bizarre! I cranked it to the coldest temperature (something I can’t stand normally), and all I felt in the leg was this strange, but definitely warm and completely bearable feeling.
I’ve also noted the opposite. When taking a bath (I take mine one notch down from unbearably hot) the left leg just felt slightly cold as if it weren’t near the boiling point.
That was the final straw that convinced me this was probably an MS attack and either way I needed to do something about it.
Similar to MS itself, there’s no easy test to determine whether something is or isn’t an attack. You need to exclude any of the other potential explanations (ongoing infection, injury, pinched nerve) and see what remains. The symptoms should also persist (which they absolutely do).
So it was pretty clear-cut in this case. Plus, these particular symptoms are pretty much typical for MS and there’s a been few more things happening at the same time very much in correlation:
The right-hand side of my body (right arm and leg) is weaker now than it should be. Something found in the neurological exam, but also something I definitely feel. It’s harder for me to type and I make more mistakes. Playing the guitar is more difficult too — especially anything that involves more complex movements of the right hand.
And when walking, my right leg feels heavier and I tend to drag it behind when I don’t focus on walking right.
So they gave me the standard three-day IV session of solu-medrol which knocked me out good, but should calm the immune system down. I was extremely fatigued afterwards (sleeping 14+ hours and exhausted the rest of the day) and also noticeably slower in my thinking.
Really bizarre experience when you’re aware you’re making absolutely stupid mistakes and having trouble understanding things that you know you were capable of dealing with before but now you just can’t.
Thankfully, that only lasted a few days during Easter as it was related to the IV medication rather than the attack itself.
The attack is still ongoing. My right leg and hand are still weaker and clumsier than before. I feel it’s a little better but it’s hard to judge.
The left leg still feels as if it were asleep a lot of the time. And the weird temperature sensations are still there too.
I’m still a little more tired than I would be normally.
But I’m able to function and while none of this feels great, it’ll pass and I’ve mostly returned back to my normal life. For safety reasons, I’m not driving the car or climbing. I’m also avoiding exerting my body too much. I’m doing less strenuous exercises and trying to avoid stress.
Which is really easy to do as we’re not in the middle of a pandemic while a nearby country roleplays 1938 Germany.
Anyway, now I just need to wait for it to slowly (over the next few weeks) subside.
In my previous post, I’ve mentioned (hoped, really) that the two attacks established a baseline of around six years. Well, this next one happened a little over two years after so… yay.
This, combined with the actual neurological observations suggest that it may be time to switch to a different (stronger) medication.
There’s a tradeoff there, but we’ll see how it all goes.
For now, I’ll have a couple of MRI exams scheduled (one for the brain and another one for the entire spinal cord) and I’ll see my neuro for a follow-up in a couple of weeks.