It is now just over a month since I’ve been home and I’m still not too sure what to think. As I wrote in my last blog I've been experiencing more difficulty and haven't really seen any new improvements. Since my MS is secondary progressive it is very uncommon to experience an attack. An attack or exacerbation is defined as any new or worsening symptoms that remain longer than 24 to 48 hrs. I definitely know what an attack is, although I've been attack free the last 2 1/2 years I have had many throughout the last 13 years. What I've been experiencing recently could easily be construed as a new exacerbation but I cannot chalk it up to that. Along with increased difficulties I've been having with my walking and mobility, the last two weeks have brought new symptoms into the picture. They're not new because I haven't experienced them before but because I haven't felt the symptoms in a very long time. What I'm talking about are sensory sensations in my legs, my left in particular where a feeling of cold develops and an uncomfortable increased sensitivity to touch. It feels similar to tingling from my thigh right through my foot but with great intensity as though I'm being pricked anywhere I touch. These new symptoms have definitely lasted longer than 48 hours however they are not constant and seem to come and go usually appearing in the evening when I'm tired or fatigued. Many of my MS issues that are hidden most of the time will often appear when I'm feeling a sense of weariness and this is why I can't classify my recent problems as an attack.
After having explained these new concerns there is good news to express as well. The vibrations that I feel in my hips and legs that have plagued me for the longest time have been rarely noticeable. My bladder control seems to have improved so I can hold my urine much longer and I typically only have to get up once in the night. Athletic therapy is going well and my therapist does see improvement week to week. I still have a difficult time motivating myself to perform my exercises on a daily basis but I am seeing progress. I see my therapist once a week and she typically gives me six or seven exercises to do every day until I see her the following week when she will assess my development and come up with a new routine. The goal is to isolate certain muscles and movements to perform properly so that when I do start working out I won't have different muscle groups fighting against each other like they do now with simple tasks like walking up stairs. It is a slow process but one that will be very valuable in the end. Unfortunately my insurance company doesn't see the value and does not cover athletic therapy which is ridiculous and something I now have to fight them on.
My acupuncture therapy also seems to be going very well, I still go twice per week and Dr. Tse is very optimistic that he'll be able to help me. At the end of each acupuncture session he has me lie on my stomach to perform what he calls suction cup treatment. In this process he rubs olive oil along my entire spine and uses a lighter to extract the air from a small glass jar creating a suction affect which he then slides up and down my spine. The entire procedure only lasts about 30 seconds but he is adamant that it is very important. He would like to see this method applied to my spine every day but this is easier said than done since it requires the help of another person. As I don't have a girlfriend to help, this only leaves my roommate Rob and I don't think either one of us are very comfortable with situations like this. Not that it's that big a deal but it's kind of like getting a back rub from another guy which is a little awkward and definitely less enjoyable. The bigger problem is that Dr. Tse has to train the other person how to do it properly meaning we would have to meet in his office located in Calgary and this is not possible. I suggested we could videotape it but he didn't think that would work so I'll just go without that procedure on a daily basis which he agrees is okay. The reason why he is optimistic about helping me is because he performed a test where he inserts a needle into the back of my calf until I can feel it hit a nerve. The fact that I can feel this nerve is a very good sign as most people with MS that he has treated are not able to. Dr.Tse has also taken a keen interest in stem cell transplants and will be phoning Dr. Jack in China to learn more and discuss my case.
It is still much too early to determine whether the stem cell treatments have been successful and you know what they say, “Patience is a virtue”. While I can't explain why I haven't been feeling great or why new symptoms have been creeping in I remain optimistic and committed to all of my rehabilitation efforts. I know one thing, the subzero temperatures that we've been experiencing don't help matters! On a cheerier note, at least we'll have a white Christmas this year which is always nice for my siblings returning home from California. I'm looking forward to a very nice Christmas; I'll have my whole family together this year. This is also my year to have my children for Christmas and I will have them for at least 10 days over the holidays. Christmas morning just isn't the same without children so I’ve even invited my ex to join my family for the kids Santa Claus surprise and gift opening. Hopefully this won't be too awkward, I have forgiven and made amends long-ago for my children's sake but I'm not too sure how the situation will play out for my brother and sister. In the spirit of the season and in particular this wonderful day celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, I'm sure everything will be peaceful and friendly.
I WISH EVERYONE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY, HEALTHY NEW YEAR!