Thursday, January 22, 2015

Spot the symptom!

Hello and welcome to your favorite MS game show - Spot the symptom! And here's your host, the one thing you need the most, your Brain (B)!

(Polite applause from the non-lesioned part of the audience)

Hi, I'm your brain and first, welcome, and second, legs fold forward, and butt, lower yourself and prepare for contact with a chair. Thanks. Now please say hello to our contestants - the Appendix  (A) and the Right Kidney (RK)! (Crowd: applause.  )

B: Let's meet our contestants.  Right Kidney, what do you do?

RK: Well, Brain, as you know, because you are the brain, I extract waste from blood, balance body fluids, form urine, and aid in other important functions of the body.

Thanks, Right Kidney.  And Appendix, what do you do?

A:Nothing. I just sit there between the intestines.

B: OK. There's our contestants.  Now, here's our first question on Name That MS Symptom -

"The attack may last from minutes to hours."  Yes, Appendix?

A: What is an appendicitis attack?

Flatulence Buzzer! (Crowd: Awwwww)

B: Nope, sorry, appendix.  Okay, let's move on to our next question on Name That MS Symptom.  "When blood flow returns, the area becomes red and then later returns to normal color."  Yes, Appendix?

A: What is a very bad rash?

Flatulence Buzzer! (Crowd: Awwwww)

B: Nope, not this time, Appendix.  Joining in Right Kidney? No? OK.  Here's our third and final clue. "First, the fingers, toes, ears or nose-" Yes, Appendix?

A: Leprosy. I mean "What is Leprosy?"

Flatulence Buzzer! (Crowd: Awwwww)

B: Sorry, Appendix, that's not correct.

A: Whattaya mean not correct? Those body parts are always falling off lepers.  Two thousand years ago you had to kick the lepers out of your village when things started going bad.  There always was a leper somewhere to blame and to cast out.  I feel for them, you know? I mean I look sideways at the Upper or Lower Intestine, and before I know it, I'm snipped and cast out myself.  You don't do anything, they say.  We've moved on in evolution, they say.  Me and the tonsils, always the first to go. Sad.

B: Thank you for playing, Appendix. Right Kidney, do you have the proper response? The answer was "First, the fingers, toes, ears or nose become white, then turn blue."

RK: I think its Reynaud's Phenomenon? I mean What is Reynaud's Phenomenon?

Dingdingdingdingding! (Crowd: applause from non lesioned part of the audience. Lesioned parts of the audience sit sullen like the opposition party at the State of the Union - because they've forgotten they are still in the Union)

B: Yes, that's right, it's Reynaud's Phenomenon!  And no matter how much you put on woolen socks and mittens, it'll still make you miserable, by freezing up fingers and toes. If you're on a beta blocker, like we are in this body, your doctor has to change that prescription.  And a note to me, remember when stepping into that warm pool at the Health Center to go very slowly or the hands and feet will burn like red hot chili peppers.  OK, that's all the time we have because we've just walked into a room   and we have no idea why we did that.  I'm Your Brain, and I will get right on that problem, whatever it was.  Bye !

A: Sure, kidneys get all the glory 'cause they can be given to somebody else and save lives.  Donate your organs, they say.  Be a lifesaver, they say.  But nooooo, not you, Appendix.  Nobody needs another appendix, Appendix.  Get back to sitting between the intestines.  We'll call you if we need something to burst.   Ha-ha, Blah, blah.  Might as well get back there and do whatever it is I do, but I wish the  intestines would stop throwing so much crap my way.  I'm surrounded by it.  Sheesh.

(Raynaud's info from NIH)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Slip-Sliding Away.

My father had the same version of MS as I do (or close to it) so I am lucky in the case that I have an idea what could happen if I am not aware and ready.  Still, things happen.  I've always been Mr. Dependable, the guy that my family and coworkers turned to to save the day, and I did have a pretty good score doing that. Now that my own brain has turned against me, the "Tom" in there is seeing that I am making serious mistakes, such as wiping out the checking account to pay bills that weren't due until April.  But that's what I did.  I pay the bills.  We had spoken with our financial advisor a day previous, and had seen we are in pretty good shape.  But we won't be if I continue to do what I was just expected to do (by me, and then everyone else). It's just another little slip.  My wife and I will work finances together from now on. I was used to and pleased to be "The Guy".  But MS takes my understanding, my ability to concentrate, and words.

There is a movie being released soon starring Julianne Moore called "Still Alice", about a college professor who develops early onset Alzheimer's Disease.  As the disease progresses, the family has to adjust to the changes in Alice as does Alice herself.  For those afflicted with the brain lethargy in MS, you know the loss of words (good side- sometimes you come up with a better word), and how hard it is to communicate.  Actually, writing on line at this second is the best way for me to talk to people, until I get to the Stephen Hawking level ( and yes, I know, he has ALS) (more parenthesis - Susannah Callahan's great book Brain on Fire posits that neurological diseases affecting the brain are all the same disease, just at different levels like bipolar then MS and further up the scale ALS).

This book:

Tomorrow, I'll see a urologist, my physical therapist, and my psychiatrist.  Everyone tries to help curb the slip slide, but in the end, it's always a solitary trip with helpers waving bye-bye.  So go make your favorite sandwich, watch an old movie, or go outside if the temperature where you are is higher that the seven degrees it is here. Hug someone or yourself, even.  Good job.

Coming soon: Maurice Raynaud's Phenomenon.