Friday, 4 January 2013

Invisible Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of this disease are clearly visible. You can see the difficulty in walking. You can hear the slurring of speech. the loss of arm use, the exhaustion and the challenge. There are symptoms you cannot see, some of them physical and some of them emotional. There are a couple of awkward "invisible" physical symptoms - muscle cramps and excess saliva.

It is the perversity of this disease that the very muscles I cannot control will attempt to exert control over themselves at random times. They cramp up without warning, usually at the most inopportune, embarrassing or difficult time. It mostly happens when I am physical in some other way, such as moments of personal intimacy, when I am trying to do something that requires focus and attention. Talk about your awkward timing.

The doctors tell me this is an automatic response in the weakened muscles. The muscles want to fire but I lack the nervous system to control the rate of contraction. The muscles just fire at will. Out of the blue my leg or my foot will cramp up and it will take all my effort to relax or uncramp. That which I am trying to do becomes secondary. Uncramping becomes primary. I hate to think of what will happen when it gets into my arms.

The excess saliva is an even more perverse problem. They don't know why it happens; current thinking is that is has to do with an increased metabolic rate. The excess saliva problem isn't much of a problem during the day. I just wipe it away or swallow it before it gets loose into my shirt, although that will become difficult when I lose the fine motor control in my hands and my ability to swallow.

At night I am asleep and cannot respond to the excess saliva. This means I drool in my sleep. It's embarrassing and certainly does not present a pleasant aspect for someone sleeping next to me. I wake up feeling the wetness to discover that my pillow or my quilt is soaked in my own spit. Again the perversity of this disease; if I sleep poorly I usually wake up and notice the saliva before it gets too bad. I can respond to it. When I sleep well I sleep right through the drooling, waking to an unpleasant, moisturized morning.

Last night I slept well.

No comments:

Post a Comment