The Feather on my Face and Bubbles in the Ocean
It touches ever so lightly, the feather tickling my face. Sometimes it shows up when I’m reading a book. Sometimes it’s there in the shower but never seems to get wet. Other times I try to scratch it away. But it’s a persistent little bugger and I just have to put up with it.
Strange sensations or dysesthesias
Strange sensations—like my errant feather—are common with multiple sclerosis. The official name for them is dysesthesia, literally “abnormal sensation.” While sensations such as my feather are common, it doesn’t make them any less WEIRD!!
The first time I noticed the feather on my face, I thought it was a loose hair. I reached up and brushed it off my cheek and eyelid. The brief touch seemed to make it go away….for a second or two. But the hair fell back into place. So I ended up pinching around my face, even going to a mirror to look, before I finally gave up.
Learning to live with the weird symptom
I just had to put up with it. In hindsight, I find this somewhat funny. I mean, if it were my husband tickling me with a feather on my face, I wouldn’t put up with it. If it were a piece of fuzzy cat fur, I wouldn’t have given up so easily to remove it.
But because it was MS, I just said, “oh well, there’s nothing I can do, I guess, while this ‘feather’ is driving me crazy.”
Enduring, accepting, or ignoring, depending on the day
Over the years, there are lots of things about MS that I just endure, or accept, or ignore, or whatever verb seems appropriate at the moment. Sometimes I think that I get so used to those odd sensations that I don’t recognize when something REALLY happens.
There was that time that an ant so graciously (not!) bit the top of my foot. The bug-biting sensation is so common that I brushed it off, before I found myself brushing off the actual ant that was biting me again.
When I’m asked about symptoms of MS, I tend to overlook some of these odd symptoms or sensations. They don’t keep me from doing what I need to do. In fact as I’m writing this, I’ve got an interesting sensation going on.
Buzzing or "jumping bean" feeling
I’ve written previously about the “jumping beans” that I sometimes feel when I’ve been out cycling. Well, today the sensation in my legs reminds me more of a trip to Alaska we took some summers ago. Rob and I went on a whale-watching excursion where we observed both humpback whales and orca whales.
The humpback whales do a thing called bubble-net feeding where in a cooperative fashion the whales blow bubbles to corral a school of fish to the surface to be consumed in big whale gulps. It’s exciting to watch.
My legs feel like they're caught in a ring of bubbles
At the moment my legs feel as though they could be caught up in those rings of bubbles. If I use my imagination, it almost feels as though I’m in a bubbly hot tub, without the heat or the water. Not entirely unpleasant at all.
Multiple sclerosis can truly be weird sometimes. I don’t mind these strange sensations so much, particularly since they don’t interfere with vision, mobility, thinking, or breathing.
Finding the calm in the weirdness of MS
If I close my eyes and listen to some relaxing music, I just might be able to pretend that I’m at some exotic spa where feathers and bubbles can “take me away” from the stresses of living with a chronic disease.
Be kind to yourself during this stressful time and see if you too can't find the calm in the weirdness of MS.
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