Sadly, I’m not referring to the great Bill Haley & the Comets ditty we all know and love, but instead to the strange things, my body does on any given day. Shake, rattle and roll… and repeat – meh!
Some days I’m only afflicted by one of the above ( I can count on one hand how often that happens!) but when my fiendish foe MS, decides to unleash the lot, I know I’ve got to batten down the hatches as it’s going to be a bumpy ride. I don’t mean a gentle teacup ride at the fair, I mean a white-knuckle, gut-churning rollercoaster from hell type of MS ride! I hate rollercoasters with a vengeance and you won’t get me on them for love nor money, so imagine what it’s like to be an unwilling participant on one – the only saving grace is that you know all you have to do is close your eyes, grit your teeth and pray for a swift end and it will end, you just don’t know how long you have to ride the MS, mind-bending, body stealing monster for!
Shake: Not an oh-so-naughty but oh-so-yummy cup full of creamy goop laced with a ka-zillion e-numbers and things we’d rather not think about (from that well known high street food chain) but the tremors and shaking of my various body parts. MS tremors are rhythmic, back-and-forth muscle movements that you can’t control. It’s like I’m a puppet and MS is the evil puppet master pulling my strings, twisting & contorting the nerve pathways responsible for voluntary muscle movement and balance. I don’t take anything for it (a cruel twist of fate is my body can’t tolerate the drugs designed to help) but the plus side is I can use my shaking hand to scratch an annoying itch or give a bloody good back massage, haha! Then, there’s the weird internal vibrations – tremors that happen inside your body. You can’t see them, but you can feel them. They give you a quivering feeling inside your arms, legs, chest or abdomen like a rippling wave sensation. Do you remember that freaky feeling when you were pissed as a fart ( ah – those were the days) and closed your eyes? – it was a weird internal shudder that ran from top to toe. Now. times that by 10 but you’re stone cold sober and you’re not even close!
Rattle: These are the rattling sound effects in my head (hyperacusis). It’s the hypersensitivity to noise and sounds that’s a common issue among us MSers, it’s like been acoustically linked to the loudspeakers that only you can hear. Everyone’s experience with hyperacusis is unique, but it’s a heightened sensitivity to every day sounds like honking horns and traffic – people chattering in restaurants effects me the most. Remember that scene in the Mel Gibson movie “What Women Want” where he’s in a department store and could hear every woman’s thoughts all at the same time with added volume – well that’s what goes on in my head in crowded places. The most irritating and disturbing sounds are usually high-pitched noises like a smoke alarm or the noise that emanates from MFH at night. Sometimes I don’t leave the house as I literally can’t face the real, yet ever-so noisy outside world.
Roll: Trying to stay vertical with MS is a challenge I set myself every day – MS has turned me into a Weeble, wobbling and stumbling my way through the day – how did that irritating advert lyric go? “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down” – oh yes they bloody do, frequently!!! I know what’s about to happen – as I try not to step on the dogs tail, it’s already in motion – I’m going down – like a WWB wrestler… It all happens in slow motion yet lasts about three seconds, and through lots of forced practice, how I handle those three seconds will make a big difference in how soon I pick myself up or if I have to lay there on my back like a stranded turtle, all legs and shell, until I’m rescued. Imagine, if you will, Big Daddy throwing Giant Haystacks over his shoulder and the way they hit the floor – the show-stopping smack-down (those of a certain age will know who I’m talking about!) – you need to try to spread the impact and land on a body part that’s soft, like your side or in my case, a bottom the size of two bowling balls… (I now have a very high regard for my wobbly bits!) Tripping over with MS is not pretty but, stuntmen and paratroopers (who know a good deal about falling) offer these words of wisdom:
Don’t fight the fall – Don’t stick your arms out – stay loose and for god’s sake land on your side!
Having a sense of humour is crucial when living with MS and this Billy Connolly joke always tickles my fancy… Chic Murray once told me he fell in the street, and a woman said to him, “Did you fall?” He said, “No, I’m tryin’ to break a bar of chocolate in my back pocket.” I would highly recommend using this brilliant one-liner next time you trip in M&S if only to see the reaction you get when asked the same question – priceless!!