Life with MS – Part Two – Medication

I have been dosed up this year, like I have never been dosed up before.

I mentioned in an earlier post that having MS is a little bit like having an uninvited monster following you round everywhere (mine has been clinging onto my right leg all morning). In order to stop the monster from suddenly flipping and getting all aggressive on me, I need to give it some drugs. The main ones are:

Steroids:
The first drug prescribed was a massive one-off dose of steroids (methyl prednisolone). To give you an idea – patients with severe asthma are sometimes prescribed approximately 40mg of this steroid every day to combat whatever it needs to combat for them. I took 500mg per day for 4 days. This was in order to fight the inflammation in my brain and give my body the kick start it needed to repair the myelin damage in my brain and spinal cord.
Benefits: it cleared up a non-MS related dodgy knee
Side effects: bad indigestion for a week, nasty metallic taste in my mouth, short temper (just ask my family), increased appetite (despite the heartburn) and therefore weight gain.

Gabapentin:
This is an anti-convulsant normally given to epileptics, but can apparently help nerve pain in MS patients. I take it for the pins and needles, the ants under my skin and any other nerve-related pain that I am experiencing. I think it was supposed to help my eye problems as well. I am gradually working my way up to the full dose of these (900mg a day) which I should be on by Christmas – I am currently on 600mg per day.
Benefits: I am not up to full dose yet and it’s still early days but I get the odd window of normal sensation in my hands every now and then and my L’Hermitte’s sign has cleared up
Side effects: Drowsiness – I feel very sleepy in the evening and sometimes during the day. Hallucinations – I am seeing quite a lot of things that aren’t there – I saw someone standing in a corridor at work the other day staring at me, when I looked again it was a filing cabinet – along with movement glimpsed out of the corner of my eye this is getting to be a fairly frequent occurence.

Beta Interferon:
I inject this under my skin three times a week (Mon, Weds, Fri). I am currently on a 22 microgram dose which is increasing to the full dose tonight (44 micrograms). The purpose of this is to interfere with and suppress my body’s auto-immune system to stop it attacking the myelin around my nerve cells.
Benefits: supposed to increase the time between relapses and make each relapse less severe. It is too early to tell with me, but I’m glad I’m on it.
Side effects: Not up to the full dose until this evening which is when the fun supposedly starts, but I have already had achey muscles and hot flushes. I inject before bedtime so that I can sleep through any nastiness but I can feel a bit crappy on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings (aches and hot sweats). The injection sometimes leaves a bruise too.

Immunisations:
Because of my suppressed immune system I have already had my flu jab, and I am expecting to have jabs for meningitis and something else (I can’t remember what).

Omega 3 for vegans and vegetarians:
I made a diary entry, just over a year ago where I equated taking Omega 3 with improved cognitive performance. I noted that I was more able to “think on my feet” and wasn’t forgetting as much stuff. I think it probably co-incided with the start of a remission period, but I reckon it’s worth a shot, so I have started taking it again.

Ibuprofen / Paracetamol:
to combat the effects of the Beta Interferon.

Of the drugs above, I may take the steroids again next year at some point, depending on my symptoms and the Gabapentin is under review. It is a “dirty” drug apparently so side effects are quite common. If my body gets used to it, fine, but there are other drugs I could try in it’s stead.

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