Lost Time and More
I was thrilled to attend the ACTRIMS 2018 conference in San Diego, in early February. Who wouldn’t welcome the chance to be in sunny weather while my home state of Ohio was in the throes of winter? ACTRIMS, the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research In MS, is a gathering of scientists to review their latest findings and thoughts on MS and its treatment. The three day conference was full of reports I want to share with you, but I also tacked on a few extra days of relaxation before heading home.
Blame it on 8D
Now almost two weeks later, this is the first writing I am doing about ACTRIMS because unfortunately the souvenir I brought back from San Diego was the kind we all wish to avoid – I contracted the influenza B virus. I blame it on the person in the seat across the aisle from me – 8D on my San Diego to Dallas flight. Shortly after takeoff, 8D commenced with sneezing, blowing and stuffing nasty used tissues into the seat back pocket. As hard as I tried to avoid it, I had to breathe during the 2.5 hour flight, and obviously inhaled some of 8D’s germs. Two days after being home, I came down with what I thought was simply a bad respiratory cold – sneezing and blowing but no high fever or the usual chills, or the aches you would associate with the flu.
I toughed it out from Wednesday until Sunday, when I finally gave in to the fatigue and went to urgent care for the official diagnosis of Influenza B. And so, I officially join the thousands of others who suffered through this virus, which has affected all of the US.
I thought MS fatigue was bad
The worst for me was the exhaustion – I though I knew fatigue well because I have MS fatigue all the time. This flu fatigue was 10 times worse – and kept me off my feet. Every bit of energy was needed just to roll out of bed. Taking a shower or changing clothes was a long drawn out process, because I had to stop and rest. I slept 20+ hours a day for several days.
No, I didn’t have the flu shot this year. That’s something I have religiously done for 20+ years, but I put it off this year because I was on a new MS treatment and wanted to clear the vaccine with my doctor first. I just never got around to asking or having the shot – that’s a mistake I will never make again. The vaccine may be not so effective this year, but any added protection I might get will be worth it.
It is now 9 days after my first symptoms appeared, and I believe I have turned the corner. I was hungry today at lunch and ate more than chicken noodle soup. I’ve started doing laundry- washing everything I may have come in contact with to prevent reinfection. And I’m writing about this experience. Until now, just looking at a screen caused pain in my eyes from the lighting. Writing about ACTRIMS will continue to wait a bit longer.
The medical experts say it’s not too late to get the flu vaccine – if you haven’t already, you should consider it. I know I wish I had done it sooner. I’ve lost over a week of days just waiting for the flu to pass – I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else.
Hoping you're well,
How well do people around you understand MS?