Tuesday 4 November 2014

I hobble when I wobble....

I’ve started getting muscle spasms in my legs.

I’ve been getting cramp in my calf muscles for a little while now and it’s quite common for me to wake up in the night, wonder why I’m awake and then to hop out of bed in agony as I realise that one or other of my calves is locked in cramp. There are only so many preventative measures you can take for something like this: I’ve been taking magnesium supplements, drinking tonic water (for the quinine, which is supposed to help) and generally stretching and rolling the muscles. Other than that, I just try and ride it out.

I’m running more than ever at the moment, so even though spasms are a fairly classic symptom of MS,  I naturally wondered if this was actually something caused by overworking the muscles. One of the physios I saw a few months ago suggested that I fatigue the muscles before bed by doing a series of repeated tip-toe lifts on either foot, just to the point of muscle cramping, which suggests it’s not really about overuse. I actually spend a couple of minutes every night doing raises on the edge of a step to try and increase the flexibility in my ankles, which obviously also works my calves. I think it’s helping with my ankles, but I couldn’t confidently tell you that it’s making much difference to the cramping.

Just recently, the cramping has become a more widespread spasming in my legs: I’ll be sitting watching the telly or lying in bed or something and my whole thigh will start to twitch, contracting the muscle and causing my whole leg to jump. I’ll be honest with you: it’s really pretty irritating and I hope it’s not something that’s going to get much worse. I was at the chiropodist the other day (I don’t feel my feet very well, and because of all the running I do, I need to be careful that everything’s okay… but that’s another story). Even the slightest touch of my foot caused a spasm in my thigh. Not a big one, but when the person touching your foot is holding a scalpel, that’s not really ideal.

Is there much I can do? Not really. It’s another one of those symptoms that I could mention to my neurologist or the MS Nurses, and they would likely be able to offer me some kind of chemical solution. When I discussed fatigue with them, I was quickly given a repeat prescription for Amantadine, which is supposed to help. I took it a few times, but I never really noticed much of a difference and quickly decided that I’d rather not take the additional drug. My gut feeling at the moment is that I’m in more or less the same place with anything else I might get offered for muscle spasms or rush bladder or whatever: the symptoms I’m experiencing are not debilitating enough that I want to pump myself full of chemicals that might help a bit but also have side-effects of their own. I’m not straight-edged, by any means…. And as well as the weekly injections, I already rattle with the assortment of vitamins and supplements that I take every day…. But I’m instinctively suspicious of putting stuff into my body that addresses symptoms but not underlying causes. Is that weird?

It’s a bit of a shit sandwich, to be honest. Relapsing-Remitting MS is supposed to be about relapses that attack, cause the symptoms and then fade away to a greater or lesser extent. Everyone’s MS is different, but mine just doesn’t seem to work like that at all. Apart from the first “attack” that caused me numbness and loss of sensation way back in 2005, I couldn’t honestly tell you that I’d had a relapse at all. My symptoms seem to vary in intensity around a theme from day to day: I have fairly widespread numbness and pins & needles, my right eye causes me bother focusing from time to time, I get fatigued and have a loss of muscle strength on my left side. That’s all been fairly steady for a few years… maybe getting gradually more noticeable as time passes.

Muscle spasms seem new to me though. Like every other symptom, it’s an evolution of something else I already experience but a bit worse. I don’t like the trend.

It's a shit business [and if I'm going to link to that, I also have to link here....]

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