Today’s missive is on the peripheral problems. You could expect me to mean the tingling or numbness that occurs in extremities or the unwanted reactions to medications. Those would fit. Instead I mean to make brief mention of the illness caused by the illness, which is a little bit more difficult to understand.
First of all it depends on what particular symptoms are most manifest with the individual. In my case it’s the coughing, caused by spams in the intercostal muscles. There isn’t any medication I’ve found that will relieve this without putting me under, so ‘function’ means ‘cough’ in my life. The trouble is the coughing gets bad. Really bad. The more I do, the worse it gets – until it won’t stop even when I’m sitting down (lying down is asking for instant death in these circumstances). We’re talking vomiting and choking here.
And that’s what I mean by ‘side effects’ (in addition to it being an amusing reference to the fact the muscles in question act on your sides, see?). So I can live with this MS stuff indefinitely, providing I don’t try to do anything. Some life, eh? All other sufferers know how it directly affects trying to do things, depending on their specific symptoms. The fatigue alone is enough to curtail activity of any sort.
But here we have a case where symptoms can actually induce additional medical problems. My esophagus doesn’t work right, so I get to have GIRD which causes acid to splash up and not just give you a bad taste in the mouth and heart-attack sensation in the chest, but can actually do damage to lungs or cause esophageal cancer. In the immediate mode, having stomach acid (and other liquid) land in your lungs can induce pneumonia. In the more immediate mode coughing occurring while attempting to swallow can cause choking. Just yesterday I had another run-in with that side effect, and finding yourself in that situation is no fun at all.
Now on the less urgent and dangerous scale there is problem of chest pain of a different sort, caused by the fact the intercostal muscles have simply gotten tired from spasming. The chest aches. It hurts. It is tired. It doesn’t want to go on breathing. If it ever decides to overrule autonomous control by the medula, I’m in trouble. In essence I’ve got three different ways of potentially dying from asphyxiation. Are we having fun yet?
All I have to do to avoid this is … nothing. Literally. Sitting still and doing nothing? No problem.
Except life doesn’t let you, and even if you did it wouldn’t be that much different from being dead.