Strange New Symptom
I continue to live happily ever after in the land of denial as far as MS is concerned. I accept that the “benign MS” diagnosis nine years ago as it has been recently described: a condition with ‘only’ cognitive symptoms…
Yes, I acknowledge that my short tem memory is gone … but most of my friends admit to theirs also having disappeared. I am now in the second half of my sixties … closer to 70 than to 60. I am reliant on writing notes to myself, on keeping a written calendar with me, on looking often at the date on the computer’s calendar, and of asking Rick at the start of each day what we have to do that day.
My sense of scent is also gone … which is a blessing most often, especially when cleaning out the bunnies’ cages occasionally. Or when a skunk hides under the barn. I don’t smell food cooking, and with the loss of scent, I’ve had a partial loss of taste. So I don’t really miss roast beef or turkey gravy anymore. And I can still taste, and enjoy, dark chocolate, so there’s that.
My typically weak sense of direction now includes loss of direction of sound … although I’m beginning to compensate for that – if I hear something to my left, I now know to look to my right, and vice versa.
But today brought something new. Actually, it started yesterday, or maybe was a result of last week. Because last week I went out to help a customer in the shop who innocently arrived in our driveway, not realizing that we are closed for these two months. And on that day, temperatures were in single digits, and the barn, of course, was very cold. I found a fabric she liked, and cut it with scissors – my very cold metal scissors, and my fingers went numb. Within a few minutes of further chatter, I began to feel very dizzy, and sat down. Rick was there, too, and he finished the transaction with her as I headed into the house, excusing myself. And once I was inside, I passed out.
It surprised me, as I hadn’t done that since discontinuing the MS injections (which had always temporarily lowered my blood pressure, and sometimes caused dizziness and fainting. But I realized later that, with both cold hands and feet, and standing for more than a few moments in a very cold space, my blood had no doubt rushed to warm those extremeties, leaving my head with less blood volume, and so lower blood pressure, dizziness, and a faint.
I was fine in short order once back in the warm house, and for the next few days as well. But yesterday, I woke up with a very warm right hand, and a very cold left hand. I thought it must be the way I’d slept with one arm under my pillow. But when I took a shower, I realized that my left hand felt no discomfort and my right hand felt as though the water was scalding hot (it was not.) My arms were as disparate in temperature as my hands were … I asked Rick when I got downstairs to feel my hands and tell me if the temperature of each was the same as the other, and he said they were. Strange, I thought, for they felt so different to me.
Today, we went to the library and tidied up the book nook, then I joined a group of quilters for a sew-in. When I rested my right wrist on the bed of the sewing machine, I felt a sharp pain in my forearm. When I did so with my left wrist, I felt nothing. My right arm grew warmer and warmer (to me) but the color of both arms remained the same. My left arm felt nothing … and my right arm felt hot and painful.
A few hours later, Rick and I met my sisters and husbands for lunch, and my right hand continued to feel hot as we walked from our vehicle to the restaurant. The weather was beautiful – in the fifties, and I was wearing a sweatshirt rather than a jacket. The difference in temperature between left and right continued in my arms, and seemed to have spread the heat to my right leg (but, again, not to the left.) Rick thought my left heel was dragging on the sidewalk as we walked, but I was unaware of it.
Tonight, as I sit here typing, my right hand, which is usually colder than the left because the unlit fireplace is to my right and there is sometimes a draft on that side of the couch, continued to feel as though I had a ‘fever’ in my hand and arm. If it were my left arm, I would worry about a heart attack. But it is not, and so I am not worrying … just observing, and puzzling as to what this might be.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Mother Nature seems, too, to have a broken thermometer this season … single digits one day, fifties and sixties the next, then back down, and then today, back up. As Mark Twain once said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute.”
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