Weathering the Storm
Throughout my life, there are phrases I hear that just stick with me. This is especially true when I hear something that relates to my life with Multiple Sclerosis. Lately, the expression “weathering the storm” is one that keeps popping up in my mind. I feel like it applies to so many aspects of life with Multiple Sclerosis. This disease gives us many moments in which we simply need to hunker down and deal with it. Like a rough storm though, it’s important to keep in mind that it will end, that you will make it through, and you will even see sunshine again.
So many storms
The greatest example of a storm to be weathered, when it comes to life with MS, is most definitely when an exacerbation (or relapse, as some people call them) occurs. The sudden worsening of symptoms for a period of time can be a common occurrence, particularly for those that are not yet on a disease-modifying medication yet. Waiting for your condition to improve is an extreme exercise in patience. I’ve had so many where I really questioned myself. Will I walk again? Be able to use my right side again? Will this storm last forever? A sudden onset of an exacerbation is like a tornado that comes out of nowhere.
The treatment is a storm in itself
The common method to reduce the length (and damage) of an exacerbation is a storm to be weathered itself. Steroids, typically several days of an intravenous version, followed by a long (but necessary) oral tapering regimen, can be grueling. Harsh side effects, including bloating, a nasty taste in your mouth, and mood swings make taking steroids feel like you are being pummeled by a storm that never ends. When will I catch a break? The number of prednisone pills in the bottle feels like it goes on and on forever.
Triggers, new treatments, therapy, and more
There are many storms to weather when it comes to MS. The hot summer months when warm temperatures can have an extremely negative impact on our lives. The holidays, packed with enough stress and sensory overload to potentially trigger an exacerbation. Going through the process of trying to find a medication that not only works, but is tolerable by your body. The start of any therapy, physical, speech, mental, or another kind can feel especially hard in the beginning.
Sunshine will come
All of these storms are hard to get through, but you have to remember they will end. If you do what you need to do, an exacerbation will end. Even if you aren’t 100% afterward, you will get better, or you will adjust. The course of steroids will eventually be completed. The weather will get cooler, the holidays will come and go, and, with effort, you can find a treatment that works for you. When it seems impossible, you will eventually have successes in whichever therapy you are undergoing. All of these tough experiences that we have to endure do eventually get more tolerable or end. For every storm we have to weather, for every dark day that comes, there is sunshine to be had afterward; you simply have to hunker down and remember that every storm does pass.
The holiday season is among us and can be so stressful! Do you experience more flares during this season?