The stalker called MS

In my job I often had to do “root cause analysis” assessments on what went wrong with a certain account and how we could “cure” it again. I miss the term “root cause analysis” and I thought I’d do a one on myself, or my life. What the heck, it’s not like I have anything better to do on another dreary summer’s day in Ireland!

I suspect that my illness, the incredibly annoying stalker called Multiple Sclerosis, entered my system through a back door in the 1990s. I have to go back when I worked in a library and I was having the time of my life, so it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I had a period of extreme fatigue and it turned out to be glandular fever so I was off work for a good while. About 5 years later I started showing MS symptoms that went undetected for another 5 years as they would come and go and I didn’t particularly find the time to get it checked out.

Some people with MS have also reported to have had glandular fever before being diagnosed, so there may be a link between the two? It’s a question nobody is able to answer yet because the causes for MS are still unknown. Because of that you start thinking about things that happened that could be the cause, and I’ve tried going back in time myself to see where and how it started. Mind you, some of my questions are very much tongue-in-cheek because I’m clutching at straws and I want to keep myself thinking positively… so excuse my type of humor, it’s my way of dealing with things :D)

I once hit my head against my bedpost when I was about 12 years old, so maybe I injured my brain somehow and later MS formed?

Or maybe I had another sort of infection? Bronchitis was a yearly occurrence, and when I was 19 I had the flu for the first time in my life. Did I sneeze too little or cough too much?

Did I damage my immune system by spending too much time in a swimming pool? All those hours of chlorine entering my nose and ears could be a reason?

As a kid I played outside a lot, so surely I had enough vitamin D entering my body on a daily basis. Can we exclude the D so from my cause of MS?

What else did or didn’t I do that caused my brain to break down on me? Stress too much? Drink too much milk? Live in the wrong country? Or was it that I just watched the Olympics one too many times?

What I can exclude is that since about the age of 17 (yes… seventeen :), I stopped drinking beer at school parties and I’ve never smoked, so at least I’ve been looking after myself that way.

You see, some people do not realize that by drinking, they kill millions of brain cells every time they drink alcohol, so basically they’re “dumbing themselves down” with each session they have. Us MSers need our brain cells to work, each and every one of them so yep… no damaging my grey little ones just for a drink!

You might wonder now why the hell I moved to Ireland when I am not really the alcohol-type of person. (Billie lets out a big text balloon full of sighs right now…) Alcohol is very much part of daily life of a lot of people living in Ireland, and would you believe that I’ve indeed been asked by people (cab drivers actually) in Dublin why I moved to Ireland if I don’t drink alcohol? Oh well hello?!? I didn’t know one of the entry requirements was that you had to be a drinker? When did that happen? I totally understand that people in Ireland have been brought up by the ol’ “Guinness is good for you” ads but come on… gimme a break. I moved to Ireland because of its nature, its literature and its culture, surely that’s a good enough reason to emigrate over here?! And sure, the film “The Hangover” was fun to watch, but seeing drunken people in Ireland, you realize that alcohol isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be.

Never done drugs either so I cannot say if marijuana works for me or not. I have to admit that using mind-altering substances are not welcome in my life for the simple reason that I am happy enough with my mind as it is. And as much as I can say how bad alcohol really is, it’s each to their own.

But back to the MS… I don’t damage my brain by poison so maybe I ate too many MacDonald cheeseburgers or fries as a teenager? Or drank too much coffee as an adult?

Questions… lots of questions and this is why in the beginning of my MS, I thought of it as a stalker. You’d never really see it but it would always be there, lurking and waiting in the dark to catch you at the most annoying moments. You would never talk to MS but yet it knew how to hijack your body, in my case it was (and still is) waking me up in the middle of the night because of neuropathic pains. It was a stalker because it controlled my life from the moment I woke up… I had to change my work routine, start being more sensible about what I did on a daily basis while trying to plan for the future.

But with a stalker like this, your life will be hard to manage if you don’t have your full wits about you. We all want as normal a life as possible at the end of the day, don’t we… and at the end of my day I want to have a cool bed with fresh air coming through the open windows. No worries in my mind and all my meds taken. Not waking up 4 times a night because of aches and pains and friends and family to understand that sometimes you can’t do a lot, even though you hate yourself for doing less than you used to.

And when you have your mind sorted out, your own stalker will have fewer grips on your life. It at least owes you that.

© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2012. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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