Gabapentin – #AtoZChallenge

Gabapentin was originally developed as an anti-seizure medication for epilepsy, but was also found to help with neuropathy (nerve pain) and dysesthesia (altered sensations, pins-and-needles feeling, tingling). Thank goodness for that! There’s no way I’d be able to get through the day without it.

See, normally our bodies can screen out unimportant sensations of things like clothes or blankets or the brush of a purse against your side as you walk. I mean, it would be pretty weird if you put your clothes on and then felt them against your skin all day, like having to wear a shirt over a badly-sunburned back, wouldn’t it?

Yes; yes, it would.

I really have a problem with dysesthesia on my left side. I don’t feel pointy, sharp pain well enough, and I feel soft, glancing touch way too well. Without gabapentin, I wouldn’t be able to leave the house, because I wouldn’t be able to wear clothes without feeling like I was being slowly irritated to death. I wouldn’t be able to sleep in the same bed as my husband for fear of him accidentally brushing up against me. Walking would be particularly difficult, as my foot would freak out every time it hit the ground. Gabapentin has helped tremendously; it’s not perfect, but it turns the neuropathic pain from a 10 down to about a 4.

I just have to remember to take it on time; missing doses really does a number on me. I have a sectioned pill box and I’ve set alarm reminders on my phone, but still I mess up the timing, and I usually don’t know I’ve done it until I feel the nerve pain start to creep back in.

Europe – #AtoZChallenge

Oh, my. Traveling to Europe for a six-month trip was impacted by having MS in a variety of amusing ways.

First off, I decided that the best way to enable myself to be active was to take along a cooling vest, since heat can really exacerbate the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. The deal was, the vest looked puffy but was actually fitted with these long gel packs that you would freeze and then stuff into pockets that encircle your torso. It was so bulky and heavy that I had to wear it on the plane to save room in our bags, so I looked, basically, like a mild-mannered, middle-aged suicide bomber.

Modeling the cooling vest. Note the handy Velcro shoulder and side straps!

That was only the first thing that caused problems for airport security, though! The other was that I needed to bring six months’ worth of medication, so my entire carry-on bag was packed with drugs. Nothing to see here, security people!

Being gimpy and slow had two main consequences on the trip. First, David and Quinland would inevitably drift farther and farther ahead of me. Honestly, this didn’t bother me much, because I like to window shop and they don’t, so I’d have been falling behind anyway, and this was a good excuse. One time in Portugal, though, I tripped and fell while strolling down the street (very gracelessly, I should add; I just pitched over, face-first) and my family was just out of shouting range. Thankfully, I was immediately attended to by the wonderful local folks, whom I tried to assure, without actually knowing any Portuguese, that I was scraped up but otherwise fine.

The second thing was that — and this holds true today — if I over-exert myself on one day, I usually am laid up on the next. D and Q thus got to go on many adventures without me, though we tried to make those days either sites-I-was-less-interested-in or physical-activities-I-probably-couldn’t-do-anyway. It would have been fun to mountain bike in Istria or kayak in Norwegian fjords, but I can’t complain — I can still travel, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

I’m also grateful that I got to visit massage therapists all over Europe, from the relaxing one in Lisbon to the near-chiropractic one in Barcelona to the health-club vibe of the one in Hannover. (After being introduced to hot yoga in London, I also got to explore yoga studios in Paris and Dublin!)

Sleeping? Pills?

I am exhausted. I need to sleep.

I am tempted to stay awake because I still have one more dose of medication due in about two hours.

I feel absolutely wiped out. I’ve been fighting a cold all week. I’m beginning to feel sad for no reason. These are all things that would be helped by getting more sleep.

My leg has been bothering me because I have that cold. (Anything that kicks my immune system into play causes my MS symptoms to act up.) When I miss a dose of meds, there is the distinct potential for lost time the next day due to my body giving me grief. So I should take the drugs, right?

I think I have decided to choose the sleep. Even if I feel bad physically tomorrow, at least I’ll be well-rested! If I choose to stay up to take the drugs (or to have David wake me when it is time to take them), I will be even more tired and there is no guarantee that I will feel well, even so.

Hasta mañana. Stay tuned for my report on this experiment.

Edited the next morning to add: I chickened out. I stayed up until 11 pm, took the medicine, and then took some melatonin so I’d be sure to sleep — and got 8.5 hours! I’m still exhausted, but every little bit helps.

sleeping pills by madamepsychosis / CC BY