Had my regular appointment with the neurologist yesterday. Every three months, I check in, we do a few simple tests, and just discuss how things are going with the disease. Yesterday's appointment was quite pleasant. I've made wonderful progress in the last three months. When he asks me questions about my balance, I can just laugh, because I do so many balance exercises in my Pilates class.
I did have two slightly abnormal things yesterday. The lower number on my blood pressure was high, even when I sat calmly and had it checked again. I blamed it on house anxiety. And during my tests, there were tremors in my hands. Since they showed up in both hands, it seems more likely to be a side effect of my medicine.
I also had some blood drawn yesterday. They do bloodwork every 6 months to make sure everything still checks out. Sometimes, Avonex can cause problems with the liver, so these blood tests can just verify that mine's still OK. I used to be so scared of the needle used for blood tests, and now I just laugh. Nothing like a weekly shot to get me over my fears in that area.
One of the nice things about these frequent appointments is the ability to ask questions in a timely manner. As most North Carolinians could tell you, allergy season is in full swing. Well, three months ago, I didn't care whether any allergy medications interacted with my medicines, but after a few days of sniffling and sneezing, I can assure you that I do now. The nurse ran me a list of all known drug interactions with my medicines, and now I know that I can take any allergy medicine I want when those snifflies return. And after seeing the list (or, more accurately, the lack of list), I can feel comfortable with any over-the-counter medicine now - I don't need to wonder.
Opening the Mailbag
Now time for my own version of viewer mail. One of the most common questions I've been asked, particularly right after being diagnosed, was "What does this mean for any family plans that you and Tim may have?"
I just got my latest issue of Inside MS, which is the magazine for the National MS Society, and they spent most of the issue discussing MS and pregnancy. The information from that matched up with information I've gotten from my doctor and other sources, like pamphlets and conferences.
The basic answer is: it has virtually no impact.
Most women with MS have fewer exacerbations during pregnancy, especially in the last two trimesters. The anecdotal evidence is so strong that there are research studies looking into female hormones and their effect on MS. As far as pregnancy, labor, and delivery go, a woman with MS doesn't usually encounter any special issues.
There is a 20-40% chance of an attack in the period right after delivery. Most people attribute this to the stress and lack of sleep that a new mother faces. This makes breastfeeding a question that needs to be pondered. Should a woman with MS breastfeed her child and take the risk of an exacerbation? Or should the woman get back on her medication and not pass on the benefits of breast milk to her child? From everything I've read and asked, it's a personal decision. My OB/GYN is a breast-feeding advocate, but he recognizes that my situation is special and is comfortable with whatever decision I choose. And since I don't have a child yet, I'm keeping my mind open. That's a decision Tim and I will make if we have a child.
I mentioned this in my blood pressure section, so I guess I should elaborate...
Tim and I are having a carriage house built. The floor plan is absolutely terrific, and this house will make our lives easier in so many ways:
* Cut down big time on commuting. For example, my commute will go from 20 miles (one way) to 6 miles. Tim gets benefits too.
* No more yardwork! Poor Tim, his schedule is not conducive to getting major yardwork done. And with my heat sensitivity, I'm not a whole lot of help. Now we won't have to worry about it.
* First floor master bedroom. Now when I get tired, or if I ever have any mobility issues, I can go to bed without climbing the stairs.
* Two car garage. Bye bye one-car carport, hello dry storage for both of us. Now in bad weather, we can take Tim's SUV without getting drenched to get in it.
* Very convenient shopping. There's a big strip mall right across the street from the community, so I'll be able to run errands without running all over the place.
* A community swimming pool. My neurologist encourages me to swim, since I can get exercise while keeping my body temperature regulated.
* Family close by. My parents and sister will be living in a different part of the community, so if I have an attack and need someone to drive me somewhere or run errands for me, I've got folks nearby I can call. I could even call them to pick me up at work if I have an attack there and can't drive home.
* We're getting a whirlpool tub! I love luxuriating in the bathtub, and this will be so much nicer than my itty-bitty tub.
I'm sure I'll be talking more about the house over the next year, while we go through the whole process of getting it built. It's exciting...but scary at the same time!