The MS Astronaut Returns After a 10-day Hospital Stay
So, where off Earth have I been?
Nothing as adventurous as a space flight, I’m afraid, but a more prosaic litany of mishaps.
First, I did crash, but that was from a vicious steroid withdrawal. My body went limp. Later, it would become even limper.
A small wound on the back of my heel worsened until it looked like it had been attacked by the Alien. Maybe the steroids had something to do with it. Regardless, my temperature reached 104 F (40 C) and I was duly carted off to the hospital.
It turned out I had cellulitis and ended up in the hospital for 10 days.
So, why the “MS astronaut” sobriquet?
When an astronaut or cosmonaut returns from a protracted stay on the International Space Station, their body can feel like a rag doll. No matter how much exercise they attempt on board (including running on the odd, space-adapted COLBERT treadmill), they lose calcium from their bones, causing them to weaken. It takes an inordinate amount of time to readjust to the stronger pull of gravity on Earth’s surface.
After 10 days in a hospital bed, I felt exactly the same. The occupational therapist had gotten me out of bed a few times using a Molift, but he relented when he found me asleep one afternoon.
I’d taken to afternoon siestas (OK, that is the very definition of a siesta) as it was the only time the ward was relatively quiet. My body must have been in self-healing mode, as it seemed to have turned into a cat. Not the running around or purring bits, but the ability to spend most of my days asleep.
Being a vegan in the hospital also turned out to be the same ol’, same ol’. There were microwaved “TV dinners,” but each contained nearly as much salt as my recommended monthly intake. Strange for a hospital! Everything else made in the kitchens was effectively a different take on potatoes and baked beans. I gave up, cut out the middlechef, and ate jacket potatoes and baked beans every day.
However, my diet changed.
I hadn’t been weighed in about three years. The hospital had movable hoists with a built-in scale. I was shocked to find out I was 255 pounds! Having biscuits with my coffee was now off-limits. From now on, I could only eat bananas and oranges. Dessert was also fruit. Luckily, the hospital served a very good fresh fruit cup with grapes, pineapple, and occasionally mango. Lunch was cut down to a hummus wrap and a naked side salad, because mayo was the only available accompaniment, and it’s obviously not vegan-friendly.
My diet remained the same for the rest of my stay.
Luckily, I like baked beans and jacket potatoes, but it will be a while before I indulge again.
A week later, medical staff weighed me again and I was down to 247 pounds.
Admittedly, some of the weight loss might have been the result of all the lymph fluid disappearing from my legs. It’s amazing what lying down for two weeks can do for a fella. When I got home, my calves were like sticks. All of the muscles I built up over years of playing sports had unsurprisingly disappeared.
I’ve spent the last few years indulging in snacks and vegan ice cream, but no longer. It’s fruit all the way down.
Now that I’m home, my weakness has continued. Carers come four times a day, and I’ve been trying to lift myself upright onto the Molift at lunchtime and teatime. Some 30 minutes ago, I managed it twice!
I’m back, baby. I apologize to my two readers. Did you miss me?
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