Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Monday, 23 February 2009
What I want to make sure is that this blog is not a place where I update you on my woes! I actually don't feel I've got any - just challenges to overcome!
I was reading "The Key to Everything" this morning by Norman Grubb and he says the exact same thing: "This is what (the Christian) life is basically: Another living His life in me. You've got the key to everything. Every problem becomes an opportunity. Every tough spot becomes a chance to enjoy the luxury of seeing Him deliver us out of it. And you welcome such spots."
So, let this blog be the beginning of things. He may deliver me out of my illness or He may not.
That's fine with me. What He will do, whether I'm healed or not, is to 'deliver' me into a new place in Him where it doesn't matter what happens to this body anyway. And all for His glory.
Sunday, 22 February 2009
No one knows what causes it, but there are a few pointers to why someone might get it. Of course, I've only found this out since being diagnosed and didn't pay much attention to it before that.
Scotland is the world's capital for MS. We have more here than anywhere else in the world. In fact, the further away you get from the equator, the more MS you find - with the exception of Norway, and I'll come back to that later. This suggests that sunlight may have an effect. Sunlight helps us produce vitamin D, therefore the less sunlight the less vitamin D. It's apparently estimated that two-thirds of the Scottish population are vitamin D deficient. We should all take supplements or eat more oily fish. Let's bring Norway back in here - in the north of Norway, they eat far more oily fish and this seems to be a factor in reducing the incidence of MS and therefore bucking the trend of the rest of the northern hemisphere.
As in my own experience, viruses appear to cause or trigger MS. In a talk I was at a few months ago given by a Canadian specialist (the Canadians are well ahead of us in MS research) he cited an example of a pair of identical twins. One had had a specific virus and the other one hadn't - the first had MS and the second one didn't. This doesn't mean every time you have a virus you're going to get MS! There are other factors involved and not all of them known or understood.
Known factors are:
- A genetic susceptibility
- Lack of sunlight and hence
- Lack of vitamin D which is made by the action of sunlight on our skin.
So, what's the effect? The nerves are covered in an insulating coating called myelin. Think of an electrical wire covered in a plastic coating. Well, the myelin gets damaged and the signals are disturbed or don't get through at all. This can cause weakness, paralysis, pain and lots of other unpleasant effects. Strangely enough, it's our own immune system that does the damage - in medical terminology 'autoimmune'. Our antibodies and defence cells attack our own nerves. The disease affects me in several ways: firstly, weakness in my legs, difficulty with balance and severe pain on one side of my head/neck. Luckily, I've got great painkillers. The other serious effect is fatigue. I run out of energy by late afternoon and spend the evenings resting or sleeping. That helps the nerves recover and I can walk better after sleeping for a while. Interesting.
It's a progressive disease, which means things get worse. But, there's no telling how long it will take. MS is also categorised into subtypes, but I'll write about that later.
Remember, this is only my understanding of the illness. I might alter my thoughts after more reading. But enough for now.
Saturday, 21 February 2009
In time, I hope to add some videos of some of my own music and some other pictures of friends.
Be warned! Your picture might be up here next!
Friday, 20 February 2009
I first saw the neurologist at the Southern General Hospital in March 2008. He was very thorough. Testing reflexes and eye movements. I could do all of the tests he asked me to do except for the walking in a straight line - in what we used to call 'baby steps' - I fell over! He wanted me to do this with my eyes open then with my eyes shut. Luckily, he was good at catching! As a result of this problem, he ordered an MRI scan of brain and cervical spinal cord. I had to wait a few weeks for this, but eventually got this done. It was like being inside a large vibrating and noisy cylinder. I found it OK though, other than having a coughing fit part way through. I was given a review appointment to see the consultant in June 2008, which was when I discovered that I had MS. It was a bit of a shock, I suppose, but this is where my Christian faith really helped (we either believe God's in control, or we don't). I committed the whole matter into God's hands and I've never felt bitter or 'why me?' at anytime then or since.
So, I had to learn to live with a progressive neurological illness - and so did my family.
My walking was getting quite bad, and by July/August time, I had to start using a walking stick. Not all the time, but increasingly since then. Coming right up to date, I use the stick always when out and about and also at work, which took a bit of getting over the embarrassment.
I'll leave it there for now and write more about MS support and what life is like now.
Thanks for reading!
Eventually, after four weeks, I gave in and was taken by my wife, Susie, to the docs. He listened to me and to Susie. I was finding it hard to put a sentence together as I couldn't concentrate on words and meanings, etc. (couldn't read or even listen to music as it took too much effort). The doctor agreed with Susie that I was probably suffering from depression. And, true enough, when I filled out the questionnaire he put on front of me, I had to admit that I had depressive symptoms. "But, what about this dizziness I've got? And this strange numbness in my head on the left side?" I asked. He said that depression could bring strange symptoms and it would all probably go away. It didn't. It got worse. Much worse.
That was in July 2007. By Christmas, the numbness in my head turned to pain and my balance and walking were getting worse. I loved walking. I was out on the West Highland Way almost every day (we live beside a section of it), and although I wobbled a bit like a drunk man from time to time, I loved getting out and being among the hills and moors - watching the timid deer in the distance and the buzzards soaring overhead. I could never tire of that.
With some difficulty, I returned to work around Christmas 2007. I had seen a psychiatrist (remember they were still treating this as depression and I was looking for all the help I could get!) who arranged for me to work half days for a month to ease myself back in. I was back to work, but I knew something was far from right with my health - and I was pretty sure the problem was in my head - so, I asked my GP to refer me to a neurologist. The GPs words were "OK, but they won't find anything."