Last Sunday I finally found the time to start my regular visits to “The West Wing” again and once I started it was really difficult to stay away. And now it’s difficult to not make this post a long one, gushing about the guys on the show and the stories and everything. I’ll do that in a post later, I promise. I’ve watched episode 6.09 and 6.10 last night, in which Bartlet suffers through a severe MS attack. Of course I watched the events unfold with slight unease, because a) I’m hypercritical when it comes to MS portrayed on TV shows / movies and b) I usually try to not think about what could happen to me one day. It ‘s not that I’m really want to be oblivious and ignorant, because I do know the facts and I know what could happen. But most of my MS attacks have been comparatively mild, so I’m trying to keep that in mind and I hope that my life with this disease will be compartively normal. And believe (or at least try to) that I won’t suffer from severe attacks in the future, when I haven’t suffered from severe attacks in the past. Maybe that wishful thinking. I’m sure, part of it IS wishful thinking. But it’s that wishful thinking that is keeping me sane. Because I usually am a glass-half-empty person and worry too much and anticipate the worst. If I did that with the MS, I would have gone crazy a long time ago.
So, what did I think of Bartlet’s MS episode and the way the storyline was told? Part of me thinks that they could have cut down on the pessimistic “you could also get this and that and suffer from this or that” talk. Probably because I don’t want to hear that myself ;-) But mostly because I’m afraid that viewers would associate this with MS in general. But every patient story is unique and different, and when it comes down to it you can’t really make a safe prognosis. At least all MS patients have that in common. I was a bit bothered by the fact, that the doctor that was accompanying him on the trip, didn’t start a corticoid IV right away. That’s like a basic of MS treatment, if there are signs of an attack. If you want the symptoms to disappear as fast as possible, start a high-dose corticoid IV. Everybody knows about Bartlet’s MS, somebody should have thought of putting enough corticoid IVs on Air Force One. Just in case!
Besides that though, I have to admit the storyline was pretty realistic. I never had such severe paralysis symptoms myself, but I know they can happen. I also know that a MS attack can hit you out of the blue and knock you off your feet. Literally or not. But MS attacks also tend to sneak up on you and unles you pay really really good attention to your body 24/7, you sometimes tend to ignore early signs. Because they might feel just be your body acting up on a stressful day. Or you think that this or that feels funny, but it pass on within the next few hours. And then you go on about your life. Because monitoring your body all the the time is not helping with staying sane. At least in my case it doesn’t.
A few weeks ago I suddenly realized my feet started to feel kind of funny. Numb and like pins and needles at the same time. It must have gone on for a while, probably at least half a day, but I just didn’t perceived it as a problem. You’d think after 10 years I’d already would have some experience with that, but that’s just the way it is. I thought about seeing my doc about it, but I also knew he’d put me through a corticoid cycle and I really didn’t want to do that at the moment. The feet weren’t really bothering me that much. And they’re almost on my way back to normal now, so…
What I’m trying to say is, that as MS patient you – or at least I a – try to avoid making a too big deal about every symptom or change you sense in your body. Or which you think to sense. Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish when to actually go to the doc and get corticoid to make the symptoms pass quickly and when to just try to sit it out on your own. Because the long term result will most probably be the same in any case.
So, would I run off to the doctor right away, if I couldn’t grab a pen and sign a document, because I couldn’t move my hand? Possibly. Scratch that. Definitely. Even though I’d most probably wait a couple of hours or until the next day and monitor it. In naive hope that it was just caused by some stress, I probably would try take it easy for a day or two. Something I should have done long before, so that the symptoms didn’t show up in the first place.
What I definitely would not do, if had experienced any kind of clear symptom of a MS attack (like a paralyzed hand) is to go on a business trip for a week *g*! Because I know that as much as I always hope it will pass on its own after a day, it very seldom does. So staying close to your neurologist and preparing yourself to have to take a sick leave for a week, usually is the best advice. For me. For any MS patient. Except obviously the one in the Oval Office. Not when he’s about to conduct a very very important summit in China. And basically not ever, because he generally has a very important job to do. He can’t just drop everything and stop working for a week… At least, he would never choose to do that. Health issues or not.
There you have it: One of the reason I will never make it to that chair behind that desk in the Oval Office. Not that I really want to do that job in the first place. And I’m lacking one important qualification to begin with: US citizienship :-)