It’s like trying to do internet research on a laptop with a virus. The damn thing keeps freezing. Your brain becomes inexplicably wedged between one thought and the next—trapped in the endless loop—little hourglass on the screen—thinking, thinking, but never arriving.
Eventually you have to give up and reboot; which is to say you have to take a nap and hope that a little rest will restore a few of the washed out bridges.
MS is like trying to write a book on a stone wall with a dull three penny nail.
And so forgive me. I ask it from the outset.
Do you know how long it has taken me to write these few lines?
I am the man in the iron mask. The birdman of Alcatraz. I am tunneling to China, tunneling to eternity. I am locked in the Tower of London. Off with his head! What head? What hand, what foot, what leg? I am the man of adamant, turning to stone. I am a phantom pain, the itch in an amputated limb.
What is MS like?
It is like going to sleep at night and then waking in the morning to find that you’ve begun to turn to stone, starting from your toes and then climbing up your calves and thighs like some kind of malevolent cement.
"And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile."
So said Daniel in his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Did Nebuchadnezzar have MS?
Your legs have turned to stone as you slept, and yet they ache to the bone. Your kneecaps feel as if they been bruised by a hammer and your feet feel as if a spike had been pounded through fiber and bone.
A primitive sort of fear crackles through your body, dancing like exposed electrical wires. What if this is it, the revelation in real time of the ever present lurking fear, the fear that you will wake up and find you are unable to walk?
You pull your legs up. You place your feet on the floor. They may as well be bricks or doorstops or potatoes. You slap your skin, massage your calves. Then you get up quickly, lurching toward the nearest handhold—the table, the clothes rack, the unsuspecting Labrador.
And you walk—not well—but you put one foot in front of the other, weaving like a child’s sand-filled punching bag, and you walk.
What is it? What is it really? What is it clinically—this thing that turns flesh and blood to stone, that tunnels through the brain like a worm in an apple, that reduces nerve fibers to squirrel chewed telephone wires, feet to turnips, toes and fingers to rubber erasers, hands to ham hocks?
(to be continued)