Unlike a bad dream, it doesn't come only when I'm sleeping, it doesn't go away when daylight comes, and even when my mind is occupied with hundreds of other thoughts and I'm busy with the "stuff" of living, working, and trying to care for my family, it lurks about and, without warning, it attacks, disrupting my cognitive and physical functioning, oftentimes bringing everything to a sudden screeching halt.
The problems are real, the pain is real, the symptoms are real...even if you can't see them. Unlike a common cold or minor injury, it doesn't happen and then get all better and go away. The nerve pain that accompanies an attack is excruciating and unlike any other type of pain. If you've ever had a bad toothache, just try to imagine that type of pain occurring in any other part of your body. It can affect any body part or function at any time for any length of time. The numbness, tingling, and weakness that often occur can mimic signs of a stroke and can be very frightening and debilitating.
I'm thankful that, at least for now, I have the relapsing-remitting type, where the MonSter attacks and one or more areas of cognitive and/or pyhsical functioning is affected for a period of time, then gradually resolves, although often not completely, so that I'm left with some residual pain or loss of function. Some of the symptoms I've had include vision problems and eye pain, vertigo and imbalance, difficulty walking, confusion, disorientation, difficulty processing information, slowed thinking, difficulty with speech, memory loss, numbness/tingling/weakness, burning sensations, spasms, reduced fine motor skills such as writing, unexplainable indescribable fatigue that can strike and suddenly render me immobile, pain - including what I describe as extreme "lightning bolt" type pain that takes my breath away and can make me collapse onto the floor.
Please understand, although altering lifestyle and making some changes can help, these cannot cure MS. Rest is not a cure. Less stress is not a cure. More vitamins or supplements is not a cure. Better weather is not a cure. Currently there is no cure. There are several treatments being used that seem to slow down the progression of the disease and/or reduce the severity of the attacks. In my opinion, most of the treatments that are being used are experimental at best.
It is my hope that by writing about my own personal experiences, readers will have a better understanding of MS, and some might also better understand me as a person and perhaps have just a little more tolerance and compassion. I would not wish this MonSter on anyone, but MS is no respecter of persons; it could choose you or one of your loved ones next.