Getting Ready for the Day Has Become Pretty Difficult
As I have mentioned in the past, I am very routine oriented. Nowadays this helps me remember to do everything that I need to do but even before Multiple Sclerosis (MS) came into my life I was a creature of habit. This was particularly true about my mornings; I am definitely a morning person and so I have always had a pretty concrete morning routine. But lately a lot of the things that I have always done in the morning upon waking up has become especially difficult and therefore exhausting so I wanted to go over how MS has impacted my morning ritual as I am sure many can relate to this.
Challenges when showering
The very first thing I do when I wake up is hop into the shower where I let the cool (sometimes even cold) water help wake me up. Many people with MS probably know that the simple act of showering can be both challenging and even a little terrifying as well; just read Devin Garlit’s well-written article on the perilous subject. All I will say is that for me? Well, my balance really sucks so there have been quite a few moments where the thought, “oh no, they are going to find me dead on the floor with no clothes on, oh no, not like this, not like this!” has raced through my mind as I desperately tried to reorient myself in such a way that I would stay on my feet. Another issue that I will randomly experience is being unable to tell what the temperature of the water is right away. Cold water feels hot and hot water feels like… cold water? Or liquid electricity but that one has become pretty rare for me now. Either way, the problem there is that getting burned is really easy so I had to learn to identify the weird sensations I would get as actually being hot and cold.
Vision problems while shaving
Now my least favorite thing in the world of getting ready for the day; shaving. I used to just shave in the shower every single day but as I have slowly become less able to tell where my body parts are in relation to each other, that has become way too difficult. So then I started shaving in front of the mirror but guess what? Between my nystagmus and my oscillopsia it is really hard to see the detail of what I am doing since everything appears to be moving. But even that is not so bad compared to another visual issue I have; when I try to look too far to the left or too far down my visual symptoms get violently worse even appearing to double despite one eye being closed! Not to mention if I look too far down I am looking under the edge of my glasses where I can’t see anything no matter how I adjust my glasses (thanks optic neuritis). This makes me not want to shave very often since I do not own a large series of mirrors from an Egyptian pyramid that if all positioned properly would allow me to see the bottom of my chin/neck without contorting my head and my glasses.
Fear of contact lenses
Oh that reminds me, my eyes! When I was first diagnosed with MS I started wearing glasses and at first I was ok with that. In time though, I started noticing little issues (like not being able to look all the way to the left and right or all the way up or down because my eyes would then be trying to see outside the rim of my glasses) that really started bugging me so I tried to start wearing contacts but while they eliminated the peripheral vision issue I quickly realized I was now faced with a few new issues. First of all, I grew up seeing my Dad wear contacts and listening to him talk about some of the “horror stories” associated with them like how one time the lens broke while he fell asleep wearing it, piece of it went behind his eye, and he had to go to urgent care to have it removed. I am sure contacts have come a long ways since then and it’s probably not so much of an issue anymore but I was always afraid that I would fall asleep wearing them and then something like that would happen and obviously, with MS fatigue, falling asleep at random times is to be expected. My second issue was that they were great for seeing far and doing everyday things but when I tried to sit down and read I could not see as clearly. Maybe my prescription just sucked? I don’t know but I started developing issues with ataxia and intention tremors so whenever I tried to focus on doing something carefully I would get a quick muscle spasm. As much as I love poking my eyeball really hard and dropping my contact lens into the sink it just became too difficult so back to glasses for me.
Lacking the dexterity to brush my teeth
OK, I got a little sidetracked there, so showering, shaving, and then… brushing my teeth! This one drives me nuts because my fine motor skills and dexterity are not at all what they used to be. So simply holding my toothbrush while I brush and manipulating it around my teeth (dexterity) is a little challenging. And the brushing motion (left, right, and in a tiny circular motion) itself is a challenge depending on which side I am doing (left or right). I do use an electric toothbrush now which I feel really helps but you still have to move it in a brushing motion so the whole “brushing your teeth” part of my morning has really become a messy process.
Contemplating buzzing my hair off
Last but not least is “doing my hair”. First of all, I have almost always had really short hair because it was easy to manage; just a little gel and I am ready to go out. But after one of my last MS treatments, I started losing a lot of hair in specific spots so I decided to let it all grow out a bit so that maybe it would be less visible while it grew back. Well, I finished that treatment a little over a year ago and so far it’s not really coming back in so that idea pretty much failed and now I just have so much hair that I have to battle to try to look presentable. It’s pretty exhausting after everything else I just mentioned so most days I just wear a hat. No effort required. In fact, I am contemplating just buzzing it all off because, since I pretty much wear a hat every day, I wouldn’t look any different to anyone only then I would probably feel way more comfortable (no messy hair) and my mornings would be a lot easier. I hate having this much hair, it’s “too much work” when you are already exhausted from taking that shower, trying to shave, and brushing your teeth.
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?