Fortunately at this point, I can type. I am writing this article just over a month from when symptoms started appearing from what can be called a flare, exacerbation, attack, or even just an episode of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). For a period of time I lost most feeling, control, and strength through a lot of my body. Most impacting for me in my life was experiencing this with my hands! I am often asked ‘what it feels like’ to have MS, and so this is the first in a series of articles covering the wide variety of symptoms that have recently come and gone through this most recent episode.
Currently I can type, which I consider my ‘coordination’ as well as ‘strength’. About two and a half weeks ago, this was not possible! I was barely able to communicate digitally, moving a mouse was near impossible and required the use of both of my hands! I think this is most clearly described as feeling like I was wearing multiple layers of rubber gloves, as well as weighted wrist bands, over a pound, probably about a pound and a half and trying to do anything quickly. Usually if one tried to do something like this, it would be difficult when first trying to do something like move a mouse, but then after a minute or two it would get easier. Normal feelings in my experience that fit this description are compensated for by the body making impairment temporary. However with this MS flare-up I experienced it was like that initial feeling of being out of control gradually hit, it took about a week for it to manifest to the worst symptoms, and then it has been slowing waning since. At the worst part I was able to ‘type’ ever so slowly using only the pointer finger on my left hand, being slowly and strategically placed over a key, lots of errors and absolutely painfully slow.
I started getting the coordination back before the strength and the feeling, at this point it was uneven as well. I My left hand improved much more quickly than my right (I’m right handed) for instance and while I could type pretty well with my left hand, my right kept ‘floating’ over to other keys, so my “L”‘s were often showing up as semi-colons and so for th because the drifting re-aligned where my hand was placed, imagine the kind of weakness you would feel after unpacking and organizing a huge bookshelf of books and then doing a couple pages of typing and I think you will understand what I’m describing a little bit. I had to watch my right hand to make sure that I had my fingers over the right keys, which was very distracting as I usually am a very fast typer!
Right now, about 4 weeks from the beginning of all of this, I’m almost completely better in my hands, I can sign my receipts, fill out forms, drive, type, change diapers, do dishes and so forth. I think right now is the most interesting as far as how they feel though. I describe it as feeling like I just got my hands wet, dipped them in some kind of flour or corn starch, squeezed them into fists making the substance cake in random places, and then putting some tight thin rubber gloves. So I can feel, but not fine details. Smooth surfaces feel bumpy and definitely not smooth, (this makes cleaning a little crazy because it doesn’t really feel clean). I’m hanging in there though, the hardest part is keeping myself from touching everything and observning how it feels as I watch and take note of what it looks like it should feel like.
In addition to all of this I experienced a symptom called “L’Hermittes,” “MS Hug,” and a kind of burning ring around my neck. MS is a very interesting condition to have.
This post was written by Kristin Bennett in February 2010 and is re-posted here with permission.