Unlisted: How I Manage my Fatigue & Numbness

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This past week I focused on what it was like dealing with the symptoms of fatigue and numbness with MS. Not one to leave a week completely depressing, I wanted to discuss how I’ve learned to manage these symptoms. While this information is anecdotal, I hope you see it less as advice and more of “it might be possible to deal with these symptoms.”

Trust me, neither of these symptoms are fun and I would be more than happy to live without them altogether. My number one recommendation is to work with your healthcare professional at all times as they will be able to tailor your treatment to your needs. If they don’t listen, it will be necessary for you to advocate for your health and find someone who will listen to your desires.

Coping with: Fatigue

Fatigue, as I previously mentioned this week, is omnipresent. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t deal with it. I didn’t have much of it during my second and third trimester of pregnancy, but since giving birth it’s returned especially dealing with a baby/toddler and wonky sleep schedules.

I have learned to deal with it in two ways: chemically and emotionally.

Chemically, I drink a lot of coffee. Like. A lot.

I am probably doing myself a disservice with the amount of coffee I drink and how dehydrating it is to my body. When I am ready, I will go back to using the medication my neurologist prescribed, Amantadine. Amantadine wasn’t perfect and at times felt like it didn’t make much of a dent in my fatigue, but that was before I made lifestyle changes to be healthier. There’s a good chance it will be more effective, as I’ve found a lot of things to be more effective since dropping sugar cane from my diet.

Until then, I stick with what I know and that is drinking several Americanos throughout the day.

Emotionally, I learned to be kinder to myself when I am having a high-fatigue day. I still feel guilty when Ash has to take FMLA to help me out on these days, but after five minutes of his reassurance, I am generally good to go.

I engage in self-care on the high-fatigue days and allow myself to rest with no expectations. I also remind myself that Jai loves me no matter what and will grow up blind to my illness because it will be normal for him. Those days we go to a park where I don’t have to chase him too much or have a snuggle on the couch while watching a favorite movie. Sometimes I am able to convince him to take his afternoon nap with me and those are the moments I treasure more than anything.

While it isn’t his responsibility to take care of me, I have learned to adapt my days around my fatigue so it doesn’t interfere with my ability to parent Jai. And with that I feel less stress and frustration towards myself day-to-day.

Coping with: Numbness

Dealing with numbness is a little trickier. Mainly because there is no real way to deal with it beyond medication.

As I mentioned at the end of Wednesday’s post, numbness isn’t something I deal with as often as fatigue or other MS symptoms, so coping with it is less of an issue. I do, however, deal with L’Hermitte’s Sign which is part of the numbness on a more regular basis.

When I am experiencing the shooting tingling down my body, that’s a sign that I took too much on and I need to slow down. This is usually during a period of high personal stress, but like with all things MS, there may not be a reason for it. So I take this as a “sign” that I need to slow down and work on self-care though taking it easier on myself.

If I experience limb numbness again, I already have a plan of attack: speak with my neurologist immediately to get on a steroid routine to prevent the exacerbation from getting worse. I am also prepared to recognize that this sort of exacerbation is out of my control. Even if I was stressed enough to bring it on, it may have nothing to do with my stress levels.

MS does that. It does things sometimes for no reason.

The key is to not panic when experiencing this sort of exacerbation. Should I panic, I potentially make the situation worse while doing absolutely nothing to help resolve the problem. I have to be mindful of the moment and that moment alone while coping with the numbness and not think about the future and possible damage. Once I am on the other side of the exacerbation I can re-assess, but worrying about the “what ifs” can make my stress worse and increase the long-term damage of the numbness.

I still hate numbness as far as exacerbations go. I still want to avoid it at all costs, but I recognize that it will always be a possibility despite all the healthy work I put into taking care of myself.

How do you deal with your MS Symptoms such as fatigue and numbness? Are they effective for you? Send me a message with your experiences.

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