Friday, September 11, 2009

Getting a 'Handle' on life

I am waging war against my hands and arms. I noticed, this past Tuesday morning, that something was odd about my left hand, when I typed Hppy Birthdy nn-my left hand little finger wasn't making the connection from brain to keyboard. I don't miss the Q too much, but I need tab and A and shift. Apparently, my little finger is on an MS sponsored vacation.
I've had problems with my arms—almost from the beginning nine years ago. My left pointer finger started to lag behind when I typed or tried to pick up little things like paperclips and pencils. I have a cyst on the back of my hand, so naturally I assumed it was affecting my finger. The first inkling I had that I might have a neurological problem came from the insightful hand specialst who told me that the cyst is asymptomatic and my draggy finger is a nerve system issue.
This news was quite the AHA moment for me. Many little things came together and made sense: the tripping and falling; becoming so exhausted on walks that I needed rescue; the lack of 'kick' in my left leg. We, my then young son, hubbie, and I had moved back to my home town and I started a new job. Previously I had worked two jobs, had a large garden, chased a toddler, and managed our household. Now, I could barely make it through my one sit-down job before collapsing on the sofa. 
So, over the past years, starting with my left side, MS has slowly chipped away at the functionality of my fingers, hands, wrists, and shoulder. My left shoulder and scapula hang 4" lower than the right; only occasionally can I lift my left arm; both wrists hang uselessly when I take off my braces; last spring the right thumb gave way, and now my right arm drags. If I could find Frankenstein's mad doctor, he could probably patch the two arms together to form most of one working limb.
It is impossible to list all of the things that slowly losing my arms and hands costs me. From simple tasks like brushing my teeth (I still haven't quite figured that out) to hand embroidery and gardening and cooking and and and..........
The latest uninvited guess to the MS party is neuralgic arm pain. From mid bicep to fingertip I experience constant pain. I call it debutante pain after the long white gloves the debs wore. It feels as if my arms are being squeezed in a custom poured vise that perfectly fits the contours of my arms and fingers so that every square inch experiences the relentless squeezing. The weirdest symptom are the lumps that form in my muscles that can be massaged away only to 'pop up' in another part of my arm. Mixed in are sharp stabbing pains that strike out of nowhere and can bring me out of a deep sleep. Intermittent stabbing electrical pain has to be one of the worst symptoms of MS.
Right at this moment it isn't clear who is 'winning' in this war. The past few days the pain and spasming has escalated to a point that I can barely function. I am irritable, sleep deprived, and just sick sick sick of MS.  What I would give to hop on a bike, peddle along the river, and revel in the late fall sunshine. Instead I am inside my quiet house trying to convince myself that I can handle this without banging my head against the wall.

1 comment:

Liz Paulissen said...

you summed me up in a nutshell. ms is relentless. i usually do bang my head out of frustration. in fact, it is now necessary for me to make my hundredth trip to the bano.