An MS’er looks at the 80’s
How do you describe an obnoxious, crazy, ridiculous, sometimes painful MS symptom that can’t be described? You revert back to your childhood. Or, your cousin’s…
I was a child of the 80’s.
Actually, that’s a lie. I was an incredibly awkward pre-teen of the 80’s and then a very shy and insecure teen of the 80’s. Thank God for the music or I might never have made it.
But, I had a male cousin who was a child of the 80’s and I remember that I had a fondness for one of his boy toys.
(No hidden meaning implied- I’m talking about one of his favorite, actual toys.)
It was this doll called Stretch Armstrong. He was a brawny dude made of rubber and you could stretch him in a million ways. You could stretch his head. You could stretch his arms or his legs. You could stretch his torso.
And, if you had friends visiting, and they all grabbed onto one of his limbs, you could stretch all of him at once.
Even though I was too old for it I liked to stretch him. Who knows why? I was even weirder then than I am now.
I’d been thinking about Stretch Armstrong a lot this summer while the heat and humidity consumed me, especially at bedtime. You see, I have these super uncomfortable feelings in my legs that I can’t explain. I’ve spent hours at night lamenting over them. How can I explain them to my doctor if I can’t even explain them to myself?
Then it came to me! They are like Stephen’s Stretch Armstrong doll!
Picture me lying miserably and trying to sleep. My legs feel like they need to be stretched as far as possible and perhaps even that won’t take the sensations away. The only relief MIGHT come from a giant kid and his giant cousin with the bad 80’s haircut pulling each of my legs as far as they possibly can. If I can turn myself into stretch deSousa, perhaps I could finally get some rest.
I was trying unsuccessfully to describe this sensation to another cousin who happened to be starting her first year of college where she will be studying nursing and she said what I had was Restless Leg Syndrome.
How could that possibly be? When I’m lying awake at night trying to stretch myself, (oh giant kids, come visit me any time please,) the TV is on and I see all these commercials for Restless Leg Syndrome. On TV it is defined as a creepy, crawly feeling.
MS and I have had our issues with creepy crawly. Is it a coincidence that the summer brings heat, humidity and BUGS? I constantly see bugs out of the corner of my eye and start batting at them only to realize that either my MS brain or the MS lesion on my optic nerve are making them up.
Except when they aren’t and I get the creepy crawlies over my whole body as I hunt for a fly swatter that may or may not be swatting at real bugs.
No, I didn’t recognize my leg crazy as RLS.
I did equate it with multiple sclerosis though and as the summer dragged on they increased from so obnoxious I can’t sleep to so painful I may never want to sleep again. At those times I pictured stretch deSousa, the toy version of me, being stretched so far that I was actually tied in a knot like a pretzel, which only made me want some of Auntie Anne’s cinnamon sugar pretzels. Not that they would help but they would at least taste good.
Unfortunately, and who knows why, Auntie Anne’s isn’t open at three AM.
After telling my doctor about my summer difficulties we decided it was time for a four-day infusion of Solemedrol. In other words, steroids baby, steroids.
I didn’t disagree but had some concerns.
Just because I felt like Stretch Armstrong didn’t mean I wanted to look like him. Have you seen how jacked he is? I don’t think that’s from stretching. I think it’s from all the roids he got at the toy factory.
But I had done the steroids nine years before when I was first diagnosed and they weren’t a problem.
Not the case when stretch deSousa was hanging out in the infusion room. What a grouchy, miserable, roid filled monster they turned me into. The first night consisted of no sleep and my body hurting as if I was ten different pretzels all tied up with each other. And not even good pretzels, the stale bar room kind.
The second and third nights my neck and head hurt beyond belief as if some majorly roid infused giant kid with fake Mr. T chains was pulling on my stretch head. Where the heck is a Ghostbuster when you need one?
By day 4 the pain modified to just aches. The week was done and I was spent and drained. All I wanted to do was rest. Just put me in a toy box, preferably on top of a Teddy Ruxpin and not on one of Steve’s many Transformers or action figures, and let me sleep.
Thing was, rested and no longer aching I did feel better. I didn’t become a he-woman from all those roids coursing around my body, and, for some very unfair reason, my fat didn’t turn into muscle. But I felt better.
And, it turns out, my young nursing student cousin was right; feeling like a combination of Stretch Armstrong and a delicious pretzel ARE indicative of RLS. I looked it up and it is described as a “disorder of the nervous system- just like MS!”
But then, how come the steroids worked?
Blame it on roid rage or on the toys of the 80’s. Or on MS itself.
I’m just happy to be feeling better and eager to get back to my regular routine. The 80’s are over my friends and I say good riddance!
So what if the roids didn’t turn me into She-Ra?
Maybe If I start eating healthy again my next doll incantation will be a Cabbage Patch Kid.
Or Strawberry Shortcake….
Blogger’s Note- I just discovered a mistake in this post. It’s not crucial but it doesn’t explain another aspect of MS crazy. I know my exact diagnosis date- will never forget it actually- 12/17/09. So above when I referred to 9 years ago, that was wrong. See, with MS I just can’t do simple math. I know 9 years is wrong but I can’t tell you how long ago I was diagnosed. Excuse me, I’m going to go ask a first grader to figure it out for me.