One of the results of multiple sclerosis, is impaired memory. This can make it difficult to recall, with any precision, the early symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.
Furthermore, my earliest memories are, more indicators than symptoms. It is difficult to know if I am making the signs fit the disease. Or I am correctly identifying early indicators of what was to come.
These memories, which have been returning gradually, while I have been thinking about writing this piece are somewhat grey. We are talking about events that have taken place over 50 years ago, for the very earliest memories.
I would challenge anybody, with or without multiple sclerosis, to recall, with certainty, events from over 50 years ago.
Knowing Multiple Sclerosis is not the same as Accepting it
I knew that I had multiple sclerosis before I had been given a diagnosis. My mother had been diagnosed with the condition several years earlier and I knew there was an alleged hereditary link.
It may come as a surprise, to learn that I went through a period of denial. I didn’t have MS, it was simply a trapped nerve in my back. That was the justification I came up with. And I wasted a lot of money paying a chiropractor to free my “trapped nerve”.
The chiropractor did not disagree with me. Why would he? I was paying him for his services.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle
I was clearly an educated man. Understanding what Multiple Sclerosis was. I could identify the symptoms and yet, I denied it.
Anyway, I digress.
Very early symptoms
As a child, I can remember being very intolerant to heat. When we were children, it was the norm to go out to play. We’re talking many years before games consoles and other such modern contrivances.
Children made their own entertainment, by climbing trees, making gang-huts from straw bales in the farmer’s field. We were outdoors in all weathers, at all times.
Hot and Sticky
During a particularly hot summer; yes, they used to happen. I was outdoors during the school holidays. My mother would not be home until late afternoon.
This must have been around 1970 or a little earlier. The heat was unbearable. My friends were running about as usual, making the most of the good weather. I just wanted to find a cool spot in the shade. I was ill.
Brain Blogger has a fer more detailed explanation of why heat affects the brain of the MS afflicted individual.
To the Ice Box
At the other extreme, hot summers tend to be accompanied by cold winters.
That winter or one soon after, we had been skiing at Glenshee. My father, myself and my two younger sisters set off for a day on the piste.
It had been a glorious day and the snow was awesome.
We left my sisters playing on the nursery slopes, while my father and I set off for some real skiing. My father had purchased day-tickets for the ski-lifts. The ski-lift tickets cost good money and we had to get as many runs as possible.
When he purchased day-tickets, he intended to get the the full use of them. At lunch-time we returned to the car to have something to eat. But, I couldn’t stop shivering.
Apparently, I started to look very grey and quickly became ill. Dad took us to the cafeteria to get a heat and possibly some medical aid.
It is quite probable that I had been suffering from mild hypothermia.. And it was only the quick thinking of my father than prevented something worse.
Temperature Extremes Intolerance
While my initial understanding of these early symptoms, was that I was intolerant to excessive heat. It has since transpired that I am equally intolerant to excessive cold.
This is not the same as temperature sense reversal, which I have written about in an earlier post.
Despite the poor memory of multiple sclerosis, I have a recollection from a time when I was only five or six years old.
This incident is my earliest memory of having a fainting episode. I awoke one morning in urgent need of the toilet. We had quite a long corridor in the house, leading from my bedroom to the bathroom. I jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom. I only got half way there before I passed out.
The memory has stayed with me, despite the fact that I may have been unconscious for only a few seconds.
I thought nothing of it, at the time. Just a reaction to moving too quickly while still half asleep. But now, with hindsight, this could have been a very early indicator.
These have been my, rather sketchy, accounts of my early symptoms of multiple sclerosis. If, indeed, they were early symptoms of this chronic illness. I am sure I will never know.
Have you had similar experiences? I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or any questions in the section below while it is still open.
Predicting the Future
I am well aware that I may be using these vague memories to make my case for early symptoms of MS. As a child, I knew nothing about multiple sclerosis. Therefore, I wasn’t looking for symptoms of autoimmune disease. That is not to say that they weren’t there.
In some ways, it would have been useful to keep a diary. This is not something I would ever have dreamed of doing as a child. None of us can predict the future. Indeed, I would be a good deal healthier and wealthier if I had been able to know what was in store.