Change – That is a fact of life for people with MS, ain’t it? Every day, change is a part of our personal worlds – change in daily symptoms, change in medications, change in coping skills, change in family dynamics, change in the stages of life. So being able to deal with change in a positive manner is a critical skill when one deals with a chronic illness such as MS (or many others, for that matter).
Sometimes, no matter our efforts to mitigate change, it still happens. Recently, despite my Yoga and walking, I have noted a significant increase in pain…my MS leg pain in particular. Being the scientific geek that I am, I have been marking everything on a calendar, trying to see a pattern over the past number of weeks. Well, the most blatant pattern correlation to my fatigue and pain is my peri-menopausal wonky cycle – I now have break-through leg pain that brings me to tears on a monthly basis, despite my exercise schedule for pain management. So my peri-menopause stage of life is increasingly aggravating my MS symptom management negatively. WTF? How do I deal with that? And…How do I explain that one to friends and co-workers??? (“Why was my report late? Oh – Well, you see my monthly hormones are jacking up the pain in my legs to excruciating thresholds, which is in turn jacking up my fatigue levels to comatose levels, which makes me more foggy-headed and addled and very nauseous, so it takes me longer to get things done and figure things out…um, what did you want again?”) What’s a woman to do, eh? Chocolate, you say? Hmm…
I used to deal with any increases in leg pain by taking a hot relaxing bath before bed. But now, add to that a new monthly symptom of bad headaches & migraines, and the fear of a seizure being triggered by these hormonally-induced symptoms of pain and fatigue – well, baths can now be a source of stress for me rather than a source of relaxation and pain-reduction. The increase in pain and fatigue symptoms has in turn created a new anxiety – when my cycle is near, you can find me checking every morning to see if I have new bruises, a bitten lip, wild crazy bed-head – or anything to indicate that I may have had a seizure in the middle of the night. Hard to know for certain – and 18 months to wait to get in to see a seizure specialist to find out (and that’s the short list)!
Along comes Yoga to the rescue! It’s gonna be benificial to get through this stage of life (MS or not) too. (Check out tips at Yoga Journal.
Talk to any MS doctor, and they will probably look at you askance if you mention that your MS symptoms get worse with your hormonal cycle – but you know your own body best – so who better to track it than you? The challenge is to figure out how to live comfortably with it!
MS and the aging female body in the change of life – hang on for another fun leg on this MS roller-coaster ride!