There are few things more terrifying than waking up unable to feel your legs. Trying to stand up and, instead, sinking to the floor. Having to crawl to the bathroom; dragging your body across the floor and feeling so incredibly overwhelmed…helpless…disabled.
This seems to be the way my body works. Ever since I can remember, when I got sick, I REALLY got sick. It’s an “all or nothing” response. I remember when I was quite young, I was sick with tonsillitis, which had moved to my limbs. I woke up in excruciating pain! I could hardly take my covers off. I laid there crying to my sister to help me get to mom and dad’s room…I couldn’t feel my legs.
When this type of thing happens, you don’t think you’ll ever get the feeling back or that you’ll ever not be in pain. Like I said, there are few things more terrifying. Within the past 3 years or so, I’ve woken up, taken a step out of bed, and completely collapsed to the floor. I would then sit there, stunned. What had happened during the night to have paralyzed my legs? Within a minute or so, sensation would return and I’d get up and carry on with my day.
Today, however, I woke up to the most debilitating fever. I should have anticipated it since I went to bed with the chills…the first sign of a fever. However, I was too tired to be bothered to grab a cold cloth; thinking nothing of how serious a problem this would turn out to be. When I woke, I couldn’t feel my legs…and the paralysis didn’t subside for at least 20 minutes. Crawling on the floor, whimpering because my sensation and strength weren’t coming back. My head was pounding…I could feel my heart in my ears, and I thought my head was going to explode.
For anyone, fevers are not fun and can be quite dangerous if not controlled. In the case of MS however, fevers that are indicative of respiratory infections…like my case, today…can aggravate MS symptoms. Hence the numbness, weakness, dizziness, etc. I was reassured by my neurologist’s MS clinic team that usually MS symptoms subside as the infection improves. Thank goodness! I was of course worried because the last time I had a fever, like this one, my symptoms got progressively worse; which was over a year ago, before my diagnosis. I will say that I am relieved to hear this and that I was able to get my fever down…and can now walk; though still weak.
It’s times like these where you really want your family close by…just in case! I admit that I did act childish while I was whimpering on the couch to my roommate that I couldn’t feel my legs…not my proudest moment…
So again, I have to be patient with myself and listen to my body. I have to take a deep breath and relax; trying to keep my body temperature down…which is not the easiest task when you already have an impaired ability to regulate you body temperature. It is frustrating that small colds can cause such havoc within my body. That I HAVE to take extra precautions during flu season and when I do get sick. That even a small amount of stress can tip my compromised immune system over the edge and cause my MS to respond negatively. I never want to find myself in a situation where I can’t feel my legs again. But, realistically this is only the beginning of my time with MS. I will take it as a learning curve, because I have a feeling that this won’t be the last time my legs disappear from under me.