I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and news related to MS. Hopefully, I can shed an optimistic light on MS even though it is difficult to be an optimist living with MS.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Since My Diagnosis

As I sat at work today, I had the sudden realization that I had regained almost full feeling in my left hand!  In late November, I began to notice some numbness in my left forefinger and thumb.  That numbness quickly spread into the rest of my left hand.  Now, for clarification, I don't mean to say that I had absolutely no feeling whatsoever in my hand, just that I had reduced feeling.  The numbness I experience almost feels as though the skin has gone numb.  I can feel pressure, but the sensation is reduced and feels abnormal.  It was really bad at one point - I had problems picking up the phone and typing with my left hand, but I got used to it and just made it work.  The numbness started to dissipate toward the beginning of this year and by the beginning of this week, I was only noticing numbness in my fingertips.  Today, it feels almost normal, I only notice slight numbness in my fingertips when I rub my fingers against an object.  Very exciting stuff!  It is weird how I just get used to the numbness and then all of the sudden it hits me that the feeling is gone.

Although my hand is starting to feel normal again, my feet are back to feeling numb.  My feet have experienced numbness almost constantly since May 2010.  Another clarification, sometimes it is only my toes that feel numb, other times it is the entire foot, but it always affects both feet at the same time in the same way.  They were numb for awhile, then they went back to normal for about three months, then by the time I was diagnosed, they were numb again.  Also, when I first experienced the numbness in my feet, the numbness would spread into my lower legs (generally when I took a hot bath/shower or was outside in the heat).  From early September until mid-December, my feet experienced some kind of numbness at all times.  Then the numbness in my feet was gone for about a month, only to return in mid-January, only this time it brought with it numbness in my thighs which sometimes spreads into my lower legs.  So, as I sit here today, my feet are almost entirely numb and my thighs are numb too.

Also, back in December, I experienced numbness in my torso, mainly the left side.  At one point or another, the numbness had affected every area on my left torso and some parts of the right torso.  By the end of December, that feeling had mostly gone away, but there were times that although it didn't necessarily feel numb, it definitely felt weird and not normal.

The other symptom that has been nearly constant since its onset is the L'Hermittes.  I began noticing a tingling sensation in my lower back when I put my head down back in late July.  I actually was excited about this at first because I thought that this sensation lent some credibility to my hope that all I had was a pinched nerve or other back-related issue.  But when I explained this symptom to my neurologist on that fateful day in September when I learned I had MS, he explained that the sensation I was experiencing was called L'Hermittes and it is a hallmark symptom of MS.  Since I first noticed the L'Hermittes symptom back in July, there have only been a few weeks during which I have not experienced L'Hermittes.  Some days are worse than others - some days I just feel a slight tingle in my lower back and other days the tingling sensation will be from my lower back all the way into my feet.  I have heard that, for some people, L'Hermittes can be painful.  Luckily, I have not felt any pain when I experience L'Hermittes, it is just an annoying abnormal sensation.  Hopefully, it doesn't develop into something painful.

As you may remember, in my "Journey to a Diagnosis" post, I mentioned experiencing difficulty walking which was accompanied by a feeling of nervousness or butterflies in my stomach.  This symptom, which I first noticed in May 2010, was gone by the end of July 2010.  Unfortunately, it returned in early January 2011.  It only lasted for a week or two and overall it wasn't horrible.  However, I do remember a couple of days where it really took a toll on me.  For instance, my husband and I were shopping one day and I suddenly felt as though I could barely move.  All I had to do was stop for a second and then slow down a bit, but it is really frustrating (and a bit scary) when that feeling hits.  I have not had any of these problems within the past week, so hopefully that won't return any time soon.

As far as I can tell, these have been all of my symptoms since my diagnosis.  In addition to the physical symptoms, I sometimes feel as though my cognitive functioning, such as memory, has been affected, but I cannot really measure that so I am not sure.  I know we all have moments where a word or something that you should know just isn't coming to you, but for a few weeks in November/December, I felt like that was happening to me more frequently than normal.  Maybe I was just noticing it more or maybe it was a symptom, who knows.  Either way, I hope my mind is the very last thing to be affected by MS.  I know I would absolutely hate to lose my ability to walk, especially for someone who has always been pretty active.  However, I think I could handle that better than losing my cognitive functioning.

I hate using the words "normal" and "abnormal" or "not normal" in describing these symptoms, but I don't know of a better way to explain it all.  The sad thing is that nowadays, the numbness and L'Hermittes has begun to feel normal to me.

Sorry, if this post didn't make a whole lot of sense.  I just felt like telling you all a little bit more about my personal experience with MS.

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