Friday, January 20, 2017

Spazzing is a MS thing or how to be a hypnagogic jerk

And now...spazzing.

I’d like to start off with my best spazz (uh..muscle spasms, a very annoying symptom).  Many of us have muscle twitchings as part of our own MS world (your symptoms may vary) but on for me, when I lay down my weary bald head, the twitching begins. Upper back, left arm, the upper left thigh, dash over to my lips, and a stop in the back before it repeats.

And then comes the best part, but allow the pictures and words below tell the story.

I was in a doctor’s office awaiting my wife Jackie’s return from her appointment with her physician.

A waiting room like this one, only there were actual humans in some of the chairs.  I’d put me in the far row, the second chair just below the right hand framed picture. And as I’m usually prepared for these waits (30 years and you should have picked up the pattern, or you won’t still be there in 30 years).  I had my book and my Starbuck’s latte.

And the waiting began.  The book was a thick one on the Civil War and, after 20 minutes, the small details of the Battle of Cedar Creek and the small print were starting to get to me (remember I’m drugged up as well), and my eyes began to close, but I bucked up, downed more of my latte, and charged back into the Confederate strategy of that mid-October battle.  And then....

This lucky guy here at least had his left arm to support his tired little head.  Me? When the brain had decided to go to neutral, it forgot (it does that a lot now) to pay attention to the update from the Hands department, that they had an opened hook in the right hand, and the left held the coffee cup.

So my body started to fall into a peaceful nap, but full hands and an empty lap, and MS, as many of you can attest, loves moments like this….

The dreaded full body spasm!  My muscles went all which way.

And, a second or two later the result…..

Dropped book and… (sigh)

and all eyes


were on me. I quietly picked up my book, cleaned the coffee up as well as I could (what’s another stain on that rug?) and retreated to my chair.  The eyes returned to what ever they were doing before I spazzed, but not without occasional glances my way.

See, this is where being sick has even more challenges because you wonder if you should try to explain why all your muscles all began going in opposite directions.  But unless you’ve got a plague like MS or  one of the other nuero ailments, folks will just say “That’s a weird thing ya just done, splattering your coffee and your reading material there. Arms and legs flinging all over. Funny. Still, you’re looking great!” and move on.

These muscle spasms are also night visitors.  Their favorite time is after you’ve snuggled into your bed and are starting that lull into a relaxed thought, the last time for me as I was thinking about crossing a street.  My right shoe stepped down from a cement sidewalk to a cobblestone street.  The “thought me” said “I better move my left foot over or I might tumble over -

Under the sheets my arms and legs splayed out, my eyes bulged open, and I breathed quick. I knew the score. MS 1, Tom 0.  I was now wide awake, and shuffled down to the den and read for about two hours.  Maybe I should have read that Civil War book again.

At, there is a good definition for this uh, thing:

A hypnagogic jerk is an involuntary muscle spasm that occurs as a person is drifting off to sleep. The phenomenon is so named in reference to the hypnogogic state — the transitional period between wakefulness and sleep. Hypnagogic jerks are also commonly known as hypnic jerks or sleep starts.

Is it really just an MS thing? No. But we, or I do, also have my legs numbing up so I’ve got a real careful moment when I get up sa-low-lee.  The bedroom is dark (though, having other brain problems, I see flowers and lace and swirling leaves, all white, but that’s another blog) and Jackie has not woken or even moved in our bed.  Anyway, start with and Google around.

One memory still clear in me is seeing my father sitting in our kitchen watching the small TV we had there in the late seventies.  He would watch for hours, breaking only to doze off, have his head start to sag to his chest, eye lids closing and then his body would spazz.  He’d look around and then turn his watery blue eyes back to the TV.  I was concerned, and slightly scared then, because, well, that it could happen to me, and as I researched MS I saw spazzing would be part of what this is drudgery.  And it is.  He had no idea what this thing was.  I know what this thing is and what it is doing and will continue to do to me. Which is better?

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