Thursday, September 12, 2019

Multiple Sclerosis: The cause of my MS.

Could something from 1971 point to reason I have multiple sclerosis?

When I was a teenager, my father earned extra money by doing did odd jobs for realtors like constructions, painting, cleanup. From the time I was 8 and until I was 18 and enlisted in the Marine Corps, I would go to many jobs with him. I think he had is own right of passage rules, because starting high school, he assigned me the high jobs like roof repair. I had no fear of heights. My enlisted ended in 1971, I  was 21 and often I would help him.  From an incident 50 years ago, my mind is still clear about what happened on a 1971 summer day.

Dad asked me to carry a bundle of shingles up to the roof where others worked. Putting the shingles on my shoulder, up the ladder, and walking across the roof, I put the shingles down for the roofers. I turned around to start down the roof, my legs froze. I could not move. Dad was calling me to come down for another bundle. I could barely hear him. He must have sensed something was wrong. He called out to one of the roofers to check on me. I am still standing frozen. The roofer looked at me, waved for my Dad to come up. The other roofer came oven and the three of them helped me to sit on the roof.  Dad told the roofers to help him get me down. They sat me on the roof. By pushing and tugging they slid me down to the ladder and help me turn over. One on the ladder, Dad is talking me down and help put my feet on the rungs while the roofers held my hands,  At halfway down, I could hold onto the ladder legs. And a few more rungs I was down.  Sill a little wobbly, Dad help me to lean on the pick-up.

A few minutes passed I was fine and could do other work. The building only was just a one-story house. During those few minutes, I was frozen with fear. Before the incidence, I had no fear of heights nor standing on the edge. The crew and I  had a good laugh about being me being afraid of work.  I never worked on a roof again. Forty-five years later, the exact same thing happened. I was at the gym, exercising on a spin bike. I felt fine, not physically exhausted. But, when I stood up, my legs froze, they would not move, I could not tell them to move. Standing there for a few minutes, the stiffness passed.  The legs became wobbly, and I was able to move to the next machine.

For 45years, the incidence on the roof caused self embarrassment. I did not understand. I always felt I let my Dad down. I showed weakness on the job but also the image of a Marine being afraid of a little old roof. I knew I was not a coward, I just did not understand what actually happened. Twenty years after the roof incident, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. When the incident happened in the gym, I knew exactly what happened. Both the roof and the gym incidences was an MS exacerbation. In my life with MS, I spend a lot of time studying MS from the inside-out. systems perspective, not from the biological science perspective. The incident in the gym was a breakthrough event in my studies about MS and fatigue. For movement, we need three resources. The physical prowess to move. The neurological coordination of body systems. And, the cognitive capability to plan movement with the ability to send coordination orders for the plan.

The incident on the roof and in the gym was MS neurological fatigue. Both incidents had exactly the same pattern, frozen legs.  fear of being a lost and defenseless, and rest relaxing the frozen legs. If my analysis is true, then in the twenty years, before the MS diagnosis, from the time I was 21 until 40,  I experience undiagnosed  MS symptoms.  In 1976, I was a field engineering for a medical instruments company and my service territory was the central western states and the land area was a third of the United States.  The work involved fixing equipment in hospital labs and at university reseach labs. Travel to the cities meant flying. In a week's time could be one to four flights a day. In and out of Denver, to Salt Lake, to Phoenix to Albuquerque and back to Denver was an easy week.  Once I was so fatigued, I had to spend several days in a Salt Lake hotel room just resting.  I remember tossing the keys to the valet, bearly being able to walk to the front desk. I had to sit in the lobby and rest before going to my room. I thought I had the flu, but now I know the symptoms were from an MS attack.  When I returned to Denver, the family doctor gave me some vitamin shots along with bed rest. I was 25. A few months later the fatigue happened on the last flight home to Denver.  Will power got me to the parking lot and my car. For two days only I walked between the bedroom and the bathroom.  One the third day, I went to the family doctor again. More vitamin shots and rest.  At 26 I was burned out and 4 days later I quit that job.

The story just sounds like being overworked. The fatigue was MS.   At the time,  the fatigue appeared as job stress. The one thing I recall was not walking well and the legs being wobbly. Years later, I learned that wobbly walking is a symptom of MS. 

Could something have happened to me between 18 and 21 that caused MS? I am the only MSer in generations of past and present family members. I have an idea about what happened to me that is exclusive of others. I am still working on the idea.

Once I identified the fatigue pattern, I could recall other fatigue events before and after diagnosis with the same pattern. I named the pattern the -n event for the no-neurological coordination. Each fatigue event is different,  only a few are  -n severe disabling events. 

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