The latest multiple sclerosis symptom
Those of us living with MS understand that our symptoms will change over time, go away, come back with a vengeance, and too frighteningly often, get worse. This is the unfortunate reality of MS. MS’er’s are so used to this, that it sometimes becomes tricky to tell what is a new MS symptom and what is just life. It becomes convenient to blame MS for lots of things. Sometimes it becomes convenient to blame MS for everything-works for me anyway.
I get really frustrated however when neurologists tell me what I am describing is not MS. How do they know? My personal, favorite examples are weird ear noises and always arriving 15 minutes late to wherever I am going. My sister Laurie has these same symptoms and they started for both of us after we each received our diagnosis. Yet, the web, the books, and the docs all say that these are not actual MS symptoms.
So I don’t expect they will accept my latest symptom as MS related either. They would be wrong.
In addition to the aches, the pains, the fatigue, the uncontrollable bladder, the cognitive difficulties, the ear noises, and always being late, MS has also given me a messy house.
This is particularly frustrating as I have always been a neat freak and a slight germaphobe, even before the word existed. I like things clean, squeaky clean. A sparkling, germ-free home and lifestyle are just who I am and what I have always maintained.
But in the years before my diagnosis, cleaning became harder to keep up with; and I wasn’t sure why. Likely it was because I was working 40 hours and was so freaking tired all the freaking time. I became frustrated at the mess my house became and did my best to wash and mop when I wasn’t working or sleeping.
I even tried hiring people to clean for me. They were two nice Brazilian women and their lovely accents reminded me of my Portuguese relatives. As it was their first time at my house, their boss insisted I stay while they cleaned so that I could make sure they were doing a good job and that they were cleaning the way I liked. It was hell.
They wouldn’t let me help them and wherever I moved to get out of their way, I wound up more in their way. And it was beyond weird to sit on my butt while women cleaned my own home. I escaped.
I told them I was just getting something from my car and drove off, feeling like a fugitive, coming back only when I was sure they were almost done so that I could pay them. They did a great job, but I just couldn’t have them back. It was way too decadent and odd.
Then I received my diagnosis and along with it, a prescription for legal speed.
My other issue in my clean compulsiveness is that I have to do my whole small house at once, so the dirty part won’t re-infect the clean part. I managed this by popping one of those precious pills, blasting some good rock music and dancing around my house with a mop in one hand and a sponge in the other. I developed some great cleaning/dance moves. But the side effects of the legal speed weren’t great and when my insurance changed, so did the affordability of the legal speed.
The messiness grew.
People talk about dust bunnies. I wish I had dust bunnies. Cute, little friendly specs of dust that you may occasionally spot in the corner of a room. I have dust roaches. They multiply like, well roaches and aren’t so cute.
Recently I couldn’t take it anymore and so I doubled up on caffeine and on my anti-viral meds that somehow help with the fatigue even though I have no idea how or why, and attacked my home. I decided, like with other things MS related, I should just get over myself and accept my limitations. I may not be able to do the whole house at once anymore. So I focused on the most needed rooms, the two bedrooms and the bathroom, essentially half the house.
The small spare room was easy; three minutes of dusting, one minute of vacuuming and change the bed sheets.
My bedroom was a little more tiring but I got it done, capturing bunny after dusty bunny.
The bathroom was the hard part- scrubbing tiles, toilet, tub and sink, and washing the shower curtain, bathroom rugs, and the floor.
When I was done I was super tired, super hurting, super whiny and super frustrated, but half the house was clean. I vowed I would rest a couple of days and then do the other half.
Then MS and life kicked in and before I knew it, it was weeks later and half the house was messier than ever.
The major bummer of this new MS symptom is that it doesn’t matter if you take care of it, it will come back. So now, the unclean half of my house is disgusting and the clean part is no longer clean and I am back to where I started.
The dust bunnies in the bedroom have joined with the dust bunnies in the living room to become these huge dust monsters. Frankly, I am afraid of them. They remind me of tumbleweeds in the desert, especially as they blow around my floor as I pass by them.
Do I clean the really unclean part first and then clean the already cleaned part?
Do I give up and go hide out in a cave, hopefully a clean cave?
Like many things MS, just trying to sort this out is exhausting. I can easily keep up with the basics like washing the dishes every few months, and changing the bed sheets every few years.
But it is the major stuff that gets me.
As I type, the tumble bunnies are multiplying and growing.
The inside of my bathtub has turned blue from the lack of scrubbing and who knows what in the well water that runs through my faucet.
It is hard to know if my eyesight has worsened or if it is the layers of dust on my TV and computer screens that are blurring the images they are projecting.
I will just do what MS’ers like me do and learn to adjust.
At least the blue on the inside of my tub is a pretty blue, I will think of it in a decorative sense.
Maybe the dust covering the TV is there so I don’t actually have to see Nicki Minaj and Mariah duke it out.
And maybe stepping around the tumble bunnies is great practice for keeping my balance steady.
This is how we MS’ers role; finding ways to work within the bounds of the symptoms of the illness.
So whatever you do, don’t tell me that my messy house is NOT a symptom of MS
And if I am supposed to meet you somewhere and am more than 15 minutes late, look for me under the tumble bunnies- they may have finally attacked!