The Rug Tickles Under My Feet

People diagnosed with relapsing forms of MS know that the disease can flare-up in exacerbations and hopefully get better and back to normal in a short period of time. Of course, things don’t always go that way. But that is what we are taught to expect early in the disease.

As folks live longer with MS, we may notice that things don’t always go in predictable cycles. You might have a relapse and symptoms get better. You might relapse and symptoms stick around. Maybe you just learn to deal with the new stuff and keep on keeping on.

My MS symptoms

My MS resides primarily in my cervical spine. My symptoms — which are many if I want to think about it — have focused on sensory issues, muscle weakness, spasticity, balance issues, heat sensitivity, fatigue, vision problems (optic neuritis), depression, and anxiety.

Recently, I was reading discussions and moderating within our Facebook community. A newly-diagnosed person wanted to know if symptoms, including numb bottoms of feet and insect-bite-like stabs on top of feet, ever went away. She wondered if she were just going to have to live with the pain/sensations forever. I responded.

When my feet became numb

Early on after diagnosis (and I can’t pinpoint when), my feet became numb. In fact, all four limbs have had varying degrees of numbness for years. My neuro nurse and I used to joke, or rather I joked with her when she conducted the pin prick test.

“Go ahead, make me bleed,” I would say with a smile. “Just feels like a dull poke.”

When she finally reached a spot that had real feeling, I would jump and gasp.

“Ouch, I felt that!”

When that ouch appeared before she reached my knees, it was a good day. When she made it all the way to my torso, I often felt discouraged. This was around the time that I learned numbness of all four limbs earns you an automatic EDSS score of 2.0 on the widely used disability scale.

Getting used to not feeling things

Over time, I just got used to not being able to feel things. That has its advantages at times. One time I had to have an IV placed in a very sensitive spot on the side of my hand. I didn’t even flinch which amazed the nurse. I learned it was a sensitive spot not from person experience but from the nurse telling me so.

Then one summer I was walking around the house barefoot, something I do year round, and stopped. What was that exactly? I noticed that I could feel the rug under my foot. Not just feel that I was walking on something cushioned, but that I could actually feel the fibers as I slowly rubbed my right foot forward and backward against the surface.

The rug almost tickled. I sat down and rubbed my feet back and forth. The sensation was glorious. Front. Back. Side to side. Circles. Oh the circles, those were cool.

Sensation returning

The sensation returning was not a sudden event. It seemed to happen subtly over time. It was just that I had finally noticed it.

I spent some time just appreciating the gentle feel of the rug tickling my feet. I think I may have even released some endorphins in the process. It felt very much like how my parents would gently tickle my feet when I was a child. I loved that feeling….and still do.

So I was pleased to be able to tell the newly-diagnosed community member that, yes, numb feet may unexpectedly become non-numb feet. You might not know when it will happen. You might not even really notice when it happens.

Someday you may find yourself pleasantly surprised to discover that the rug under your feet tickles.

Thanks for reading!


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