Getting Through a Multiple Sclerosis Flare-Up
Relapses of multiple sclerosis symptoms are the thorn in my side. I despise them. They are never fun, never easy and never wanted by any of us.
If it were not for relapses, multiple sclerosis (MS) would be nothing. We all experience them. We all have to find our own ways to cope. This is how I cope.
Denial, alcohol and tears can be a likely and easy first step for me when dealing with a new MS relapse. I will be traveling along merrily through my day, when suddenly my knee feels cold or I get a cramp in my ribs.
“No reason to worry,” I tell myself. “It will probably go away soon enough. Besides, it’s the weekend. There is nothing I can do about it ‘til Monday. Now, where did I put that Malbec?”
Later in the evening, I will likely be found in front of my TV, watching Bridget Jones’s Diary, eating sushi from my favorite restaurant and pouring myself another glass of that bittersweet Malbec.
“Sure, my knee is freezing even though I am wrapped in a blanket. Yes, this is most likely disease progression,” I mumble aloud. “It’s no big deal. I am a strong girl. It’s just a knee anyway, right? Pfft — I can TOTALLY deal with a cold knee forever. Just as long as this alcohol keeps me from wondering what else could go wrong.”
That is when I might cry, just a little, and then zone into the movie hijinks of a woman who seems to feel just as lost an inept as I do at that very moment, and suddenly my world is not so bad.
It is now a Monday morning. I am hungover from my self-absorption of the night before and I am drinking lots and lots of water.
The water helps for two reasons: it rehydrates after the alcohol, and the steroid treatments will begin soon and dehydration is a monster when you are taking steroids. I have been sent to the floor screaming in pain from leg cramps and I never want to experience that feeling again.
I call my neurologist first thing and he knows me well. He has a set protocol that I follow and I am scheduled to begin receiving my prednisone IV infusion later that day.
I talk with my husband and son and we schedule our next three days around my appointments.
I am a veteran at the infusion room. I know which veins are best for the nurse to use — I am what they call a “hard stick.”
I bring lots of water and candy. The taste of the prednisone is disgusting and sugar is my friend in this scenario.
The prednisone treatments are the center of healing for me. I hate the side effects that come from them (they are often worse than the relapse itself), but I love knowing the relapse will be ending soon.
That soon, I can get on to the business of healing and back to my “normal” life.
Another day where I find myself at the infusion suite. The nurse is always annoyed that I didn’t have them place a port into my arm to avoid extra needle sticks due to my tricky veins.
I always smile and reply, “You are a kind person and I respect what you are doing for me, but when I leave this place, I prefer to forget that I was ever here.” They always quiet down after that.
Next page: Libby recounts day three and four of her multiple sclerosis flare-up.