Exactly one year ago, on 11 May 2013, General elections were held in Pakistan, and that is the date when I had my last MS relapse. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis on 31 January 2011, more than three years ago, which was a life turning event for me. In these 3 years, I have had 3 relapses, an average of 1 relapse every year.
My Third Relapse
I had my third relapse on the General elections day last year, when I made the stupidest mistake to go stand in the scorching heat of May in Lahore to cast my vote. We had planned to leave home early on election day and were at the polling station by 9 am. However, after wasting an hour at the polling station, we came to know that our votes were registered at another polling station, which was different from the one where we used to cast our votes every time. I was pretty much exhausted in that first hour and dragged myself to the second polling station. Luckily, the people and polling staff there was very helpful and we were done with our voting within half an hour.
I took frozen ice packs along with me to manage my body temperature, and also a bottle of cold water. I remember it was a very hot day and people were standing in the sun, patiently waiting for their turn. The security guard was also kind enough to let me in first when he saw that I was ill, was having difficulty walking and could not stand in the sun for long. By the time I came back home, my feet were sore and swollen from standing for so long, and walking all the way from the parking lot to the polling booths. My legs were heavy and fatigued and I thought it must be an exacerbation of my symptoms from all the heat and exhaustion. I came home, switched on the air conditioner and tried to rest hoping the symptoms would go away.
Much to my horror, I was quite weak the next day when I woke up. I was experiencing difficulty walking and my entire body was chronically fatigued. A day after that, my condition became worse still and I could not even walk without support. I fixed an appointment with my neurologist immediately and he advised me the usual corticosteroids (Solu-Medrol) dosage I take every time I have a relapse. I was hospitalized for 3 days, and the use of a high dosage of methylprednisolone given through IV helped shorten the MS attack and reduce inflammation. I was quick to recover from this relapse because I did not waste any time in visiting my neurologist.
A lesson well learned – Never to exhaust yourself and avoid standing in the sun for long because it can worsen your MS symptoms leading to increased inflammation and even an MS relapse.
My Second Relapse
I had my second relapse in April 2012. That was another stupid mistake I made. I had called my hair dresser at our home to have a hair cut because the weather had started to become very hot and I was avoiding going out on a hot day. She gave me a haircut and then she used a hair dryer to blow dry my hair. You must be wondering how could a simple hair cut and blow dry be linked to a relapse? I was totally okay when she was doing my hair, but the next day, I woke up with both my hands completely numb. It was as if my hands didn’t exist at all! The use of heat on my head was the real problem. I should not have used that hair dryer!!!
In the next couple of days, I stared losing all power and control in my hands and fingers. My right hand was affected more than my left hand. I started having difficulty writing, typing, holding a glass, eating food, combing my hair, brushing my teeth, and even wearing clothes. My sisters and mother used to help me with everything. They used to brush my hair, and feed me every time, because holding a spoon in my hands was also not possible. They even used to cut my nails, help me wear my clothes, do any writing for me I needed help with. Since I was having problems writing, I could not do my signatures also, and my bank accounts were totally inaccessible for me because I did not have an ATM!
Another lesson learned – Do not use a hair dryer if you have MS. It can worsen your symptoms and even cause a relapse!
It was the most scariest experience of my life. I used to spend hours crying at the severity of my condition. Recovery was not very quick after the use of corticosteroids (Solu-Medrol). I started noticing improvement after the third day of IV administration, but I had to wait a whole month for my hands to start function like before.
I posted a video on Facebook about the writing problems I had to face as a result of this relapse.
My First Relapse
That is another long story which I will share with my readers some other day 🙂 It was the day when I came back from India, and apparently exhausted myself on my way back.