Sunday, 26 June 2022

A Picture of Health (in the world of multiple sclerosis)

WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER PILL BOX

Or a bucket.

When I can’t sleep at night because my leg won’t stop twitching – another wonderful symptom of having MS – I sometimes while away the time by counting up how many pills I take a week. Here’s a quick inventory:

40 to 50 Baclofen – to help control the aforementioned twitching. They work quite well but not all the time.

14 Levothyroxine – you’ll have to read the book to find out what that is all about.

7 One-Alpha calcium tablets – again, you’ll have to read the book.

14 Amantadine – to help give me a little more energy. They work up to a point but their efficacy is somewhat blunted by the fact the my sleep is so broken these day because of the leg spasms.

That’s up to 85 prescription pills. For a short time I was also taking Dantrolene for when the Baclofen failed to squash the spasms. That pushed my quota up to 99 for a couple of days before I had to sack them off because they were making me feel so rough.


Added to the mix are the non-prescription additives that are supposed to slow MS’s progression:

7 Vitamin D tablets

14 Omega-3 Fish Oil tablets

That pushes my pill count over 100 in any given week. Is that normal? Maybe if you have HIV or a serious heart condition. I recall a scene in Gone Fishing with Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer where Paul was lining up all the pills he had to take each day. There were around a dozen. I imagine most people were thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of pills.’ I just thought about how many I take and inwardly pretended that I didn’t understand the point they were trying to make. ‘Yep, looks totally normal to me.’

Of course, added to this pharmaceutical soup is the fact that I  stick a needle in my leg on a regular basis. Yes, if the pills weren’t enough, I inject myself with Brabio three times a week. It’s supposed to reduce the number of relapses I might suffer otherwise, therefore reducing the threat of further disability. It took around three months to get used to that one, mainly because it led to a stinging pain around the injection site like a wasp had done its worst. Now it’s just another part of the bedtime routine. As much pain and side effects as brushing my teeth.

Some people don’t like the phrase ‘the new normal’, but I can’t think of any other words that sum up these aspects of my life better.

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