MS Presents ‘Horror Weekends’

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

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I have always liked the odd horror movie, the odder the better. I was a bit of a fan of the trash Troma Studio mob, where their tongue was so firmly in their cheek it usually stuck right through it.

For you youngsters out there, think the “Sharknado” franchise. In one film, a “sharknado” ends up in a pool hall. Of course, it was a right dive! I thank you.

Multiple sclerosis seems to sidle up to me most weekends and unleash true horrors.

It was Saturday night and I was tucked up safely in bed. I seem to remember having spent a quiet day pottering about, though it’s now just a hazy blur burnt out by what was to follow.

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A spasm began to break out in my right arm. Was it because I’d tried to cut down on the level of diazepam I’d been taking recently to dampen down such spasms? Instead of having a spasm every other night, as had happened previously, I’d managed five straight days without one. And I mean literally straight — no addled brain, no loss of whatever physical strength I had left, no seeing the world as some kind of drunken dream.

This is hilarious, considering diazepam is also supposed to help with alcoholism-related withdrawal. I’m not surprised, as it’s even worse!

The spasm quickly became unbearable. Two 5 mg diazepam capsules were immediately downed. That should do the trick, I thought. They’d quiet the attack and have the advantage of sending me to immediate sleepy-bye.

Sorry, not this time.

The edge may have been taken off, and what it would have been like otherwise is unimaginable. I started a low-level scream that went on for hours. The pain was too intense to sleep, and the drug was too powerful to let me deal with the practicalities to come.

I suddenly also had a burning urge to pee. Now, I’d already been through my usual nightly routine of going before bed. Because MS gave me early on the joys of an overactive bladder, I downed my usual 5 mg dose of solifenacin. It lasts 24 hours, so normality at least reigns in this area of my life.

Through the pain and the fog of my own war, it twigged that I must have a urinary tract infection yet again! That had triggered the arm. One infection sends everything else into hyperdrive.

After that follows a hazy, dreamy slapstick version of me with an inserted catheter trying to urinate twice into a urine bottle. Take it from me, the insertion of the catheter itself was like wrestling a small crocodile.

In the morning, it transpired that both times had failed completely. Still, it must have distracted me from the pain in my arm.

Don’t think the fun stops there, campers. Oh, no.

One of the attributes that kept me going in my career in the arts was dogged determination. It’s the same for those that become terrifically successful as well as the likes of us also-rans, who survived yet still flourished, albeit at a more humdrum level.

It also means that we must drive on, no matter what meets the hard place on the rock.

I convinced my family to let me try standing on my trusty Molift Raiser and be turned onto my shower seat a mere 3 feet away. They were against it, but that dogged determination is also myopic foolishness. My right arm turned out to still be on fire. I never made it.

With their help, I had my billionth slow fall to the floor. Pillows were put behind my head. A debate started as to what to do next. When I say a debate, I mean I was told unequivocally to shut right up.

An ambulance would take ages. If I could be dragged a foot or two — no minor feat — I’d be in range of the hoist. This was managed, and the specialist shower sling, which can be fitted in situ, was manipulated into place.

I was safely returned to bed and had to loudly admit separately to both my wife and my eldest son that I was indeed an awfully bad person. Or rather, a word to that respect.

Well, no respect, though it’s just part of life.

Answers on a postcard, please. That’s one for us oldies.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Wendy Hovey avatar

Wendy Hovey

I'd surely send a postcard if I could afford it but I no longer remember what I paid for these "forever" postcard stamps for the US, which for unknown reasons feature a variety of Crayola-colored fish and improbable-looking coral. It would probably cost a whale to send a postcard from the US to you. Do they have this in the UK? You pay some sort of fee and then you can always use the stamps even if you paid way less than what they actually cost when you use them.
So let me use this forum to say that I whale about your plight and wonder why the universe thinks it's right to visit all this on someone who devoted his career to making us laugh. The universe obviously has this wrong!

John Connor avatar

John Connor

Ta for your kind words and I much appreciate the double pun on your use of 'whale'! But as an existentialist I really don't think the universe has any porpoise.

Tom Anderson avatar

Tom Anderson

Hello Mr. Conner- I see you use a variety of aids, but here is one more. My take on spasticity is that it begins with what I call "silent cramping" (perceived as stiffness) and minor soreness, which then leads to spasms which are painful only if I am trying to use that muscle at the same time it is cramping or spastic. So what slows the whole thing down, and temporarily stops pain (for me), is a message with my handy Homedics hand massager. It is round with three legs that vibrate. I keep one in every room. Just thought I'd share. Best wishes...

John Connor avatar

John Connor

Cheeky! x

Wendy Hovey avatar

Wendy Hovey



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