A Glitch in my Sensory Perceptions
Paraesthesias are defined as “Abnormal sensation, typically tingling or prickling. (Pins and needles) caused by pressure on or damaged peripheral nerves.” Another strange phenomenon of MS. Apparently up to 90% of people with MS experience paraesthesias of some description. These anomalies are caused by lesions on the brain or spinal cord and the resulting damage to the nerves from demyelination. Sometimes exacerbated by fatigue or MS heat intolerance, sometimes they are just there. People who have these feelings describe them as as burning, tingling, stinging, pins and needles, sharp shooting pains, pain, the sensation of insects crawling on your skin and wetness. Yes, you did read that right, wetness.
Many times I have felt like I have walked smack bang into a cobweb. It’s on my face, my right side, in my panic I try to pull the strands off, brush them away but there is nothing there. On closer examination and much looking into mirrors for spiders that are non- existent, I eventually determine there is nothing there and eventually understand its just one of my paraesthesias.
I experience pins and needles in my hands, feet and legs, head. Certainly annoying but I just try to shake them out, if this doesn’t succeed in their removal, I just do my best to ignore them until they dissipate, sometimes a lot easier said than done depending on the duration. Often it is short lived but sometimes it can go on for hours and hours. Sometimes its like an ant crawling on my skin. I actually physically brush it off only to discover nothing there, still the sensation persists.
“Are there ants crawling on me? “
“Umm no Bec, there is nothing there.”
People must think I’m crackers. Then there are the incessant itches. My back sometimes at bedtime comes alive. I could tear holes in it. Many times I’ve asked Miss O, “ Is there a rash? Is there anything there?”, only to hear that no there is not a damn thing in sight. The worst one of my paraesthias for me, is the spot on the back of my left leg. It is only the size of a fifty cent piece, It’s an itch that feels like it goes straight down to the bone. No matter how I scratch and scratch I get no relief. I want to stab the back of my thigh with a skewer or something very sharp and pointy and get right in there and manipulate it till I find the spot and banish it forever or better yet, dig the little sucker out and physically acknowledge its very existence. Just when I think seriously about grabbing something sharp to do just this, it vanishes. Mind boggling and seriously annoying.
I get a numb left foot and ankle. It feels like from the bottom of my calf down there is nothing there? Sometimes when I wake from slumber, it honestly feels like my foot has been amputated, it feels like nothing is there? On closer inspection, my foot is there. It’s not actually numb? More like decreased sensation? I have to physically touch my foot to make sure it is there and re-assure myself, yes, I can feel that. Its just a strange sensation and oddly annoying.
Then there is the piece of hair that mysteriously keeps getting on my face? I try grabbling it and brushing it back but Yes you guessed it, there is nothing there???
Lets not forget the feeling of wetness. Sometimes I seriously feel like I have spilt water on myself. I can feel the water dripping slowly down my leg or chest. I go to wipe it and yes, you guessed it. Nothing there, nothing at all. I’m perfectly dry. Weird.
Occasionally when Miss O hugs me, something that is certainly not usually painful becomes a painful experience. I seem to have a heightened sensitivity to my skin, the slightest touch, hurts me, any pressure hurts me. Thankfully this is almost always a short lived thing because as humans, we know we cannot live without touch.
Some days, I seriously think I’m going mad but logically I know I’m not. Its OK, It’s just my MS screwing with me. I can still walk and talk and work, so for the most part I release my annoyance to the universe and get on with whatever I may be doing but if you see me scratching incessantly, I promise I don’t have a communicitable disease, its just my nerves misbehaving, sort of short circuiting if you like?