41. 50 shades of MS.

It was the night of Valentines Day. The house was quiet. Suddenly the silence was broken by a loud groaning sound that could be heard oozing through the floorboards upstairs. The noise gradually got louder until a strained voice shrieked ‘Don’t stop!’ and the groans climaxed into an ear-pinching yelp. The cats sought refuge under the sofa. 

Whilst this could be mistaken for a home re-enactment of scene from a recently released film … it was not. 

For the last 12 months or near enough I have been having real problems with muscle tightness and stiffness (no rude jokes please). It mainly affects the backs of my legs. It’s like the muscles are in a knot, all scrunched up, and are incredible painful. They feel tight to the touch. 

Apparently this is yet another symptom of the varied and downright odd condition that is MS. 

Let me explain. 

In order to move your arm, the muscles at the front of your arm shorten or contract (increasing the tone) whilst the muscles at the back of your arm lengthen or relax (decreasing the tone) (tone being the resistance to movement or level of tension in a muscle).

Sometimes the brain signals are interrupted midflow and the muscle is left in the shortened or contracted position hence the tightness and discomfort. From what I have read this can also happen if there is damage in the spinal cord … the message to relax the muscle either doesn’t get through or gets mixed up and so the muscle remains tight. A bit like Chinese whispers I guess. 

It’s incredible how many bodily functions are controlled by the nervous system. So when your nervous system is a bit doolally some crazy stuff is bound to happen.

And so on Valentines Day evening my very understanding husband was attempting to relieve my leg muscle tension using a very painful sport massage foam roller thingy whilst I almost cried with the pain. Who said romance was dead?! 

The week after this I got my first physio appointment. 

The physio asked me to rate the pain on a scale of 1-10. ‘About a 4’ I replied. ‘I have had a baby’

‘You must have had a really bad labour’ she replied.

Given that had been about a 7 I took this as a compliment and clinical confirmation that I am hard as nails. As I did the fact she was impressed at how far my legs can bend back towards my head.

And so she gave me a series of stretching exercises to try to help the muscle tightness business.

And it was whilst I was there I discovered I cannot walk in a straight line.

I have always known this though you understand. I have been told on many occasions by people I am walking with as I make them verge out infront of an oncoming tram or into a privet, that I am not walking in a straight line.

As I tried to walk along a painted line on the ground, one foot infront of the other, the problem was obvious. I am just too wobbly and don’t have the requisite balance. In particular my right leg, the one that has always been particularly mischievous, refuses point blank to step on the line.

I’d be screwed if ever required to walk a tightrope. 

I left, my circus / acrobatic ambitions shattered, with my muscle stretching exercise sheets in hand…

… but with the excuse that next time I am snaking along the pavement it is not down to my heels or one to many g and t’s … But this crazy thing they call MS.


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