Mornings With MS: Was I Hit By a Bus?
Last updated: May 2023
As the first wisps of the morning sunlight begin to feather through the shades on my bedroom window, I am already very much awake. I am awake, forced from my slumber, not by an alarm, or my faithful dog (he prefers to sleep in), not by any choice of my own, but by my body. A body, that after decades of living with Multiple Sclerosis, wakes me up with pain. Burning, searing pain, as well as aches and spasms, all making it nearly impossible to fall back into a slumber.
While not an everyday occurrence, more days than not, I wake up with my body feeling like I’ve been hit by a bus. My morning punishment, as I call it, makes starting the day extremely difficult.
My morning pain with MS
Everyone gets some aches and pains as they get older, as the body has gone through the wear and tear of life; however, this is different than that. I normally wake with some sort of burning in my legs, as if they are on fire from the inside out. The rest of my body often experiences a dull pain that I describe as that painful sensation you get after you’ve been out in the freezing cold for an extended period of time, when you’ve thawed out, but now all the formerly cold parts just hurt.
My arms and legs often experience spasticity. When this happens, if the muscles are not involuntarily convulsing, then they are stiff, hard as rocks and immovable. Not only does all of this have a tendency to rouse me from my slumber, but it makes getting comfortable and trying to fall back asleep impossible.
Mornings aren’t pleasant
Prematurely being yanked from sleep by my pain often leaves me without an appropriate amount of sleep; combined with the fatigue that MS casts over me, the period of time after I wake up is rarely very productive. I may have been jolted from sleep, but that doesn’t mean I’m coherent. I don’t awake bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, despite being a big-time morning person in my past life. It seems unfathomable that I was once a person that was at the gym by 5AM and then the first person in the office. The thing is, even though that really wasn’t all that long ago, it seems like a fairytale to me now.
I wake up feeling beat up
Many days, I wake up feeling beat up. It’s never one isolated issue; my legs may be on fire, but one of my arms is also spasming, the rest of my body feels sore and stepped on, all while I feel encased in the concrete of MS-related fatigue. I often tell my roommate that it feels like I’ve fallen down a mountain and hit every rock on the way down. Needless to say, It takes a lot for me to pull it together in the morning.
Even though I regularly wake up in rough shape, I can usually pull it together and have a decent day. I find that sticking to a routine is extremely critical to me in the mornings. Not trying to rush anything is also important. I now start most mornings at a snail’s pace, which is far from the way I once began my days.
At times, that can be frustrating, but learning to accept that life is a little different has been the key for me to keep going. I don’t have a foolproof tip to not feeling so beat up each morning (despite trying many, many options), but I’ve learned that the most important thing is to adapt to it and not beat myself up even more because my life has changed.
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