This one isn’t about raising two kids or how I found a desiccated cat turd in the laundry basket today, although, really Stuart?!?. This is about my health, which is tip-top, I am very, very blessed and happy to say.
I just had a few tests run as a check-up and a precursor to meeting with a renowned MS doctor. One of the perks of the city I live in is the presence of top-notch medical professionals and facilities. I’m not expecting him to have anything new to say, that I have (had?) CIS and Lhermitte’s Sign, that I have a 15% chance of developing MS in the future, that preventive medicine might be more trouble than it is worth at this time.
(Small pieces of the journey through the last year are here and here. Since there is so little information out there about CIS and Lhermitte’s, you can look at the basics here at Wikipedia(Lhermitte’s) or here for Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS), but I’ll also share that for me it presented about two months after the CIS as numbness in the toes when I dropped my chin, and numb spots in my right abdomen and leg when I drank a beer or had the audacity of getting frisky with my husband. I know! As if having sex with two young kids, who don’t sleep, isn’t challenging enough! The toe thing is still there, minimally, and the other stuff is gone, thank God. It’s been just more than a year–a sort of benchmark for this, so the chin-drop sensation might still resolve a bit more, or not. We’ll see.)
Another perk of living in a state where February is the longest, coldest, grayest, coldest, cold month of the year, is that it keeps my hands cool, which keeps them from going numb. In theory anyway. That hasn’t been the case for the past few weeks.
For a few weeks before Christmas, I hadn’t had any tingling in my fingers, and I finally noticed and a balloon of hope started to fill and rise in my heart. Maybe this was it. Maybe the nerve damage had been side-stepped or healed or somehow removed by surgical aliens. I tried to temper this with the very real possibility that with warmer weather, the numbness would come back. That seems to be a standard for those with MS, that heat invariably makes symptoms worse. But I had hope. Hope was dashed, small though it was, when we took the kids to an indoor water park over New Year’s and that humid 74 degree room brought back useless fingertips and numb forearms. (About the “numbness”, I’ve never been able to describe it adequately. If you injected Novocaine into your hand…and it started to wear off, that’s what this is. Like rubbing your fingers across sandpaper or cut glass, continually.)
Ever since then, boot camp has been a bit trying. I have my own “adaptive technologies” I use, like using resistance bands to keep weights or kettlebells in my hands. I’ll wear shoulder sandbags instead of holding weights, I’ll wrap TRX strap loops around my wrists so I don’t fall on my butt or face, I’ll step outside for a few minutes in this refreshing February air to cool off. It can be done. Now, more than ever, I feel the need to be moving my body and being strong. When all else fails me, I’ll walk on the treadmill and rest my hand on the rails. I tried a cooling neck-band during last summer and while it was nice when I was running, during boot camp it was more trouble than it was worth. I finally had the idea to look for cooling wristbands and ordered some and a cooling towel to bring along. **The wrist bands are great! Get some and your life will get better, I promise.** Swimming in the summer was great for keeping me cool, and so is Nordic skiing in the winter. There’s perk number three, fun sports I can still do throughout the year here! 🙂
So the blood levels came back and one of the things we checked was vitamin D. I was super low two years ago, in February, after a bout of pneumonia. We did super-high doses for a couple of months, then 5,000 IUs a day until pool season started again. My blood levels now are creeping towards the lower end and I’m supposed to add another 1,000 IUs each day. (The correlation between adequate vitamin D levels and slower MS progression is amazing. See here, for yourself. I don’t understand the mechanism, but who cares.) Is this why my hands have been acting up lately? That my vitamin D levels have been dropping as we get further and further from those halcyon days of summer? Who knows. So, one of the drags about living in Wisconsin, or anywhere in the midwest and points north, is the lack of sun, not just for our psyches, but for our vitamin D production. So you too, are probably deficient. So take your vitamin D! Or, book a vacation someplace sunny and get it the way nature intended. 🙂