17. self pity/general sad-sackery
The last is my favorite. It's so easy to feel sorry for myself and to forget that I made all of this happen. On my own. Well, after I was pointed in the right direction anyway. But I took the initiative, I started the search for a local doctor supportive of CCSVI in April. So in just a little over 2 months I've managed to track someone down and make it happen. A doctor who has now (so I've been told) said he wants to make this his "life's work". I did that. Pretty badass.
But I'm also guilty of putting all my eggs in the CCSVI basket - and I've already admitted to doing that. Especially when you see a before video like this and an after like this - not even 24 hours later, how can you not?! I have to repeatedly remind myself that Denise Manley (the woman in the video), God love her, is very blessed and lucky but not an example of status quo. So much so, in fact, that there's a facebook support group titled "Post CCSVI Slow Recovery" with 269 members. One of the doctors in Poland, Dr. Simka, tells his patients to give it three to six months. And there are many variables. The two biggies:
- When were you diagnosed?
- Where are you on the EDSS or Expanded Disability Status Scale? The range is 0 (perfectly healthy) to 10 (dead). I'm a 6.5: "constant bi-lateral assistance (canes, crutches, braces) required to walk 20 meters without resting", in case you're curious.
Those are some loaded questions. Maybe you were diagnosed in 2007 but started with onset symptoms in 2000 - it just took that long for a diagnosis. Or you could be a 0 on the EDSS but have crushing fatigue, cognitive problems, issues with speech or hearing. Thing is, no two people have the same disease course. Period. Ever. So how can you have any accurate expectations of what your recovery will be like? You get your blockages fixed and the blood starts to move freely but then what about all of the iron deposits on your brain and/or spine and years of nerve damage? Why does it have to be so freaking complicated?
So here I am, almost two weeks post-procedure. Have I shown improvements? Yes, absolutely. As many as I'd hoped for? Not even. But that's my fault. Shame on Susie. And my husband warned me. I don't like to acquiese on this one. I am eternally optimistic and he is the complete opposite. But I need that right now - not complete skepticism, just a rational voice, for crying out loud. I am such a sucker sometimes. Don't get me wrong - in no way was I duped. I had a legitimate problem that needed to be fixed. Finally, something in this disease that can be fixed. But it's not happening fast enough for me. Gah!
Infamous list-maker that I am, I documented all of my symptoms etc prior to going in on June 18th. I also got footage of me walking. I wished I had gone more in depth - shown how bad my balance and spastiticty were, for example. But it's too late to do anything about that now. Here's my before list (with more sensitive topics removed to spare me some dignity):
Current MS symptoms (diagnosed 10/2001; last relapse 07/2006):
numbness (middle of back down to feet)
cold sensation in legs
tingling/creepy crawly sensation in legs
weakness (both legs and feet – worse on the left side)
involuntary leg twitching (in evenings)
left foot drop
spasticity in legs and back (can't bend left knee unassisted)
clonus in both feet and lower back
neurogenic bladder (always feel like I have to pee)
unable to empty bladder
minor fine motor skill problems with hands (buttoning shirts, etc)
double vision when over heated or anxious
Ampyra 10 mg 2x/day
Flomax 0.4 mg 1x/day
Novantrone IV every 4 mos (1 dose left)
Toviaz 4 mg 1x/day
Restoril 15 mg as needed (app 1x/mo)
Xanax .25 mg as needed (app 1x/mo)
L-glutamine 500 mg 3x/day
Biotin 1000 mcg 1x/day
Vitamin D3 5000 IU 1x/day
Diet: omit soy, dairy, gluten, alcohol, refined sugars, red meat and limit fruit.
Currently have/use the following medical equipment:
3 wheeled walker
hand controls on car
single prong cane
AFO for left foot
Click here for my before video.
I started to keep track of my post-procedure symptoms and any changes in a notebook. Here's what I've written so far:
Venogram/Venoplasty performed 6/18/10
- warmer feet
- spasticity gone (legs no longer tense and then relax when I stand up after sitting or laying down)
- clonus improved (gone from 8-10 beats to 2)
- easier to go to the bathroom/empty bladder
- sleeping better
- only got up once during the night to go to the bathroom instead of the usual 2-4 times (with meds)
- feet are not hypersensitive to touch
- L'hermittes sign gone
- legs are less numb
- feel sturdier
- usually by 3:00 I'm ready for a nap but I breeze through the afternoon and find that I'm not tired at night.
- left foot drop improved
- stood at the kitchen sink doing dishes for ten minutes (normally when my legs start to get tired I stick my belly out and lean my hips on the edge of the counter for stability – that never happened) and then stood at the stove for five minutes making breakfast
- bent down to wipe some water off of the floor and didn't have to hold on to the counter for support
- standing and talking to my husband with my arms crossed, not holding on to the walker
- numbness continues to improve; sensation is returning from waist to toes
- able to bend and swing legs into car instead of putting my hands behind my knees to bend them and place them in the car
- stood at bathroom sink washing my face and didn't lean into it with my forearms for support
- able to pull on shorts (seated) without having to hike my legs up with my hands into each leg
- flexibility improved (laid on my stomach and was able to grab my foot - left and right and bring it towards my butt)
- sit to stand (twice) without holding on to anything
- clonus returned (not sure I was checking it the right way before)
- walked with one forearm crutch around house (during work day)
- legs not feeling as sturdy
- cold sensation in feet and legs returned
- couldn't sleep last night; woke up three times to go to the bathroom
- legs and feet feel warmer (sensation-wise)
- walked with one forearm crutch for a few hours
- walked (waddled, more like) down the hallway - about ten steps - without holding on to anything, 3 or 4 steps at a time very, very slowly
So, placebo? I think not. But full disclosure: I started Ampyra about 3 weeks before I went in for the procedure, but I stopped it two days before to get a baseline for how I was really feeling (I've yet to notice a difference in leg strength from Amypra; just sensory changes). I was off of it for 6 days. I called and spoke to a pharmacist at the drug company who said it is basically like starting from scratch - and it's supposed to take 2-6 weeks to kick in. That was encouraging in the sense that, any improvements I am seeing are from the venoplasty, not Ampyra. I filmed myself walking about a day after I started the Ampyra and it's exactly the same the "before" video I filmed on the 17th - proof positive that the Ampyra is not clouding any actual improvements from venoplasty alone.
The walking/sensory improvements aren't all day every day, either. There is an ever-present ebb and flow, one that I could do without. But the two very first improvements (with spasticity and bladder) have stayed constant through out. I have to at least be thankful for that.
Should I be happy with what's happened to this point? Of course. But I'm forever looking for the next thing - and it's difficult to let yourself down from a full on crusade... you want that high to continue. Worst part? I've never been a patient person, so this is a real struggle for me.
Thankfully I've spoken to many people who were/are on the same track as me -celebrating little by little, incremental improvements. So let's just see how this unfolds. But I hope I can simmer down a bit and be a little more philosophical about this. Or I'll just have to get on some crazy pills. And I really don't want to take any more medication...