Tremors and Spasms
The other night, I was trying to fall asleep, but every time I was just about to "cross over" into the dream world, I would be startled awake by my Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This made me realize that I have never really talked too much about the tremors and spasms Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has brought into my life.
My MS tremors and spasms
First, let's start with the very thing that got me thinking about all of this. Tremors. Or maybe spasms? Or both? I don't know, anyway. To be more specific, I am currently talking about tremors and spasms that only seem to occur while I am lying down trying to fall asleep. I very rarely experience any sort of tremors or spasms during the day, but for some reason, when I am in the process of drifting off to sleep, it's like this symptom, that was previously dormant, wakes up and just wants to party! I'll be lying in bed and my thoughts will be starting to fade as I slowly slip into the first stage of sleep but then, out of nowhere, I am instantly snapped back into being wide-awake because my shoulder will violently jump forward.
Primarily impacts me at night
It's almost like how a "sleep-start" will wake you up because you randomly feel like you are falling, but instead, I am startled awake by my shoulder spasming. And it's not subtle; it's like someone snuck into my room and tried to yank me out of bed by my shoulder! After I am jolted awake, I'll try to get back into the "falling asleep groove" but... just as I'm about to fall asleep... it happens again! Once this thing starts, it will just keep happening, and it's always just before I start to fall asleep.
But between these spasms, I will also begin to experience tremors as well. In fact, I have lied there in bed actually watching my shoulder, and it will literally start to visibly tremor for a bit right before a huge spasm hits! Like the rumble of a volcano before it blows! Eventually, often with the help of medication, I manage to fall asleep. So much for relaxing before bed and not going to sleep while stressed out! I tend to think of it like my MS knows I want to sleep but it doesn't want me to because it's, well, just a huge jerk! So it (the fictional character that is my MS) just sits there and waits for me to start to doze off, and then it leans over and shakes my shoulder with a good amount of force in order to keep me awake.
As far as tremors and spasms when I am awake? As I said, I don't experience them all that often, but there are a few exceptions. The most common symptom in this category I get while awake is called an intention tremor, at least that's what I was told this is called. I used to have really steady hands; for example, I used to do computer repairs that involved removing tiny screws, replacing bad capacitors with a soldering iron, and basically just handling a lot of small objects that had to be moved with intricate precision. Over the years since my MS diagnosis, my fine motor skills and dexterity have gotten worse, but I have learned to work around that for the most part.
This is why I generally avoid soup
However, something else came up when it comes to working with my hands that I can't seem to find a way to work around. Intention tremors. You see, my hands won't really shake as much until I actually try to do something that causes me to really focus on keeping my hand steady. The most simple (but one of the most frustrating) examples I can give you is when I simply try to eat soup. I know the soup is hot, so I try to slowly raise the spoon to my lips so I can just sip at it, but because I am thinking about trying to keep my hand steady, it starts to shake and usually ends up causing me to spill my soup all over the table or burn my mouth. So I generally try to avoid soup because of this.
Frustrating beyond belief
Luckily, none of this stuff is painful, it’s just really annoying. I mean REALLY annoying. When it comes to the tremors and spasms I sometimes get before bed? Well, it’s already hard enough for me to fall asleep with all the insomnia issues I have, so this just makes it that much more difficult. As far as trying to physically function during the day? It’s beyond frustrating when I can’t do a simple task that I have been able to do all my life like using a screwdriver. It used to be so easy that I never even had to think about it, but now? I can barely even place a screw (if I can do it at all) because my hand just starts trembling, causing the screw to fly off the screwdriver and across the room and go missing until I, of course, step on it in the middle of the night while walking barefooted to the bathroom after already having struggled to fall asleep because of the tremors and spasms in my shoulder.
I guess I would say that it being "frustrating" is a huge understatement, can you agree? Does this happen to you too?
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?