For the last few months, I have been tucking the edge of the duvet in to prevent my feet from wandering onto the floor. It was one of those really annoying things that I was doing in my sleep. The result, though, was I woke with my body arched like a banana and my back screaming in pain. The pain was so bad, that despite being cold, I often took ages to bring my legs back under the covers. When we decided to buy the king size duvet for our double bed, the spare duvet supplied proved to be the answer. Until last Friday night, this worked perfectly, the only issue was how I have to get in and out of bed. It means a painful manoeuvring of my legs into a tucked position just so I can getting in and out, but on balance, it wins hands down. I woke in the early hours of Saturday to find myself lying on top of the bed. How I got there without hurting myself or waking up, I don’t have a clue. Getting back into bed showed me that the duvet was still perfectly tucked in. I had to have sat up in the bed, brought my legs out and lain down again. To have done all that without noticing any of it, simply amazed me. I was even more shocked when I woke in the early hours of this morning in exactly the same position. Several months ago, I joked about the fact that I might just be about to take up sleep walking. I really was joking back then, as my legs slipping off the mattress wasn’t exactly a truly thought out move, this clearly is. I have already decided that tonight when I get into bed, that I will tuck the upper half of the duvet in as I lie down. Hopefully that way I will stay where I am supposed to be, in bed.
My brain never stops to amaze me with the things that it comes up with just to make life that touch more complicated. It’s hard enough to walk around the house when I am awake. The idea that it is going to take me for a wonder in my sleep may sound funny, but I fear the results might just not be. Having said that, it has been a while now since I last took a tumble. I seem to be doing a lot of stumbling in its place. The strength in my legs just disappear, or more frequently, I find my toes stubbing off the floor. Luckily, it’s normally just my leg or my foot at one time, but they have happened together. Finding your leg suddenly not there, or not having the strength in them to stand up, doesn’t get any easier. I thought that when it started happening like so many other things in my life, that I would get used to it. Clearly I will always be surprised, as it happens out of the blue, but it’s that shock angle that I thought would settle. Every time it happens, it feels like the first time. I am always shocked that the muscles have failed and returned. The closest I have got to understanding where the shock came from is because when my left arm failed, it was dead for months. This business of not there one step back the next is somehow more unsettling. It’s like I am being stalked by an event, it’s hanging around in the background watching and waiting for the next opportunity to catch me out. There is also that added threat, that I will go for that next step so that I don’t fall, expecting it to be fine, only to find that that was its last step forever.
Progressive illness is living your entire life under a threat. None of us has the slightest clue which part of our illness will get worse next or what it will do to us when it happens. Most progressive illnesses are slow and steady, a bit by bit process. PRMS and I suspect the other forms of progressive MS often seem to act in sudden jumps. Because most of the damage done to us is caused by lesions destroying the nervous system, so we don’t always get clues. often the nerve will continue to work normally until the last second when the Myelin is totally cut in two. I frequently describe it as the lesions eating me, as that is the picture that appeared in my mind when I first read about it. I saw this evil little PacMan type creature, not cute at all, eating away at my brain. That was where they first found them when they performed an MRI, there they were, loads of them, eating my brain. Whether it is in my brain, my spine or anywhere else, right now the preparation work on removing something from is underway. The threat is in action, in fact, multiple threats are in action and I’m just waiting to discover their results. Clearly there are often clues when I start to develop a weakness, or like my chest where the muscles are being triggered to get tighter and tighter. Just like spasms the messages are being sent but are miss read due to distortion. Like sending a message down a multi-core wire that nicks in it. The message gets there, but it is crackly and odd sounding so the muscle reaction is also distorted. The threat is there all the time, what will it do today, tomorrow, next month or next year. How distorted will those messages be and how long before they stop forever?
If you were to think about it every minute of every day, you would go mad. If I were to sit here right now and just make a list of all the symptoms, the areas their in and the possible outcome of what is happening, it would be horrific. That’s just for right now, that’s not how it will be in an hour from now, it’s always changing. You can’t let yourself monitor it constantly, not even daily in detail, as that is the road to disaster. That I think is where our personal strength comes into play. We have to be strong enough not to drive ourselves mad. To stop ourselves from wallowing in the actuals, possibilities and results. You can’t stop yourself from reacting mentally when your foot drops, or you can’t breath or your bladder hasn’t held until you reached the bathroom. Reacting is normal and impossible not to do, but wallowing, that is painful and not needed. It takes strength to accept, sort it out and move on. It takes strength to grasp hold of your thoughts and direct them in a different direction and not to return. Our strength has to be mental, not physical. It is also a strength just like the physical one, that you can train, exercise and enhance. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. It doesn’t matter what our health does to us, that mental strength is what will carry all of us through and into our futures. Pain, discomfort, embarrassment, fear and despair, are all controllable.
I know that threat is always there, that my health will come up with more and more things to test me. I know that warning or not, my body will always catch me out and do things I never once imagined possible. But I believe that I am strong enough to keep putting it where it belongs, here in my daily posts and not in my daily life.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago – 23/08/2013 – The truth of pain