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My Relapse


Thursday August 21 2014 11:00 AM

I think I have an aversion to the World Cup. In July 2010 I ended up in hospital, and was subsequently diagnosed, with MS. Roll on 4 years, and I was back. I was in a different hospital, and the relapse was totally different than my previous one, but the drill was the same. 

In the 4 years after diagnosis, I didn’t have any full-on relapses. I have symptoms all the time, I often feel like death warmed up, and there are days I can barely put one foot in front of the other. But, I’ve been able to live with it and, for the most part, get on with life regardless. 

Winter time is my friend. When its cooler and dark, and I can stay indoors wrapped up and in front of the fire. I usually don’t feel too bad during winter. The worst time of year for me is when spring turns into summer. That time of year when the rest of the country is hoping for heat and sunshine, and to lie out in parks during their lunch, you can usually find me skulking indoors.

This year I started feeling “off” in April. It usually takes me a few days to cop on to the fact that I don’t feel well, but I can remember feeling the onslaught of exhaustion at Easter. My leg was annoying me; my arms were heavy and awkward. I was off-form in general. I was still able to do my normal day-to-day stuff, but it was getting slower and laborious. I wasn’t overly worried, telling myself and others “well, this happens every year” and ploughed on.

Six weeks of feeling unwell later, in the last week of May, a full-on relapse hit me smack in the face. On the Wednesday evening my eyes were unusually sensitive to light. After work we’d headed off to do our grocery shopping and the lights in the shop were too bright for me. I was walking around with sunglasses on, like an eejit, squinting and making faces at everything. It’s grand, I thought, I’ve been busy at work, the pc has left my eyes tired.

Thursday morning I woke up feeling ok. My eyes were a bit sore, but my house is dark and working from home means I can keep the blinds down on a sunny day. I worked all day, feeling a bit uneasy, but nothing I could put my finger on. After work, my husband came in to the room, and when I turned my head to look at him, he was blurry. Isn’t that funny, I chuckled, I can see you in soft focus. The blurriness stayed all evening, and I headed off to bed early.

By the Friday morning, I had complete double vision in my right eye. I convinced myself it was tiredness that I needed a BIG cup of coffee to wake up. I sent the hubby off to work as normal, and set myself up at the pc to start checking my emails. 

Two BIG cups of coffee later, and my eyes were still banjaxed. I was sitting at the pc, typing with one eye closed. Not very productive or sensible. I have been told I am stubborn when it comes to my MS, but on Friday 30th May, I gave in. I called the GP, got a referral letter, and packed my bag to go to Sligo. On the Friday of a Bank Holiday weekend. Hey, if you’re going to do it, do it right!

I’d never had Optical Neuritis before, it was a new symptom for me to deal with. It’s a pretty hard one to ignore too. It’s very unnerving not being able to see if something is in front of you. The journey to Sligo was awful. The double vision meant that instead of just seeing cars on the opposite side of the road, passing us, I could also see them coming towards our car at an angle. It also made me nauseous, which isn’t pleasant on a 2.5 hour drive.  

I got admitted into hospital for 5 days, I had to have an IV steroid. Once a day, I’d get hooked up to a drip for about half an hour. The rest of the time I slept a lot. I was exhausted from the relapse and from the heavy dosage of medication. After feeling off for two months, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I needed to rest and recover, and as I couldn’t escape the hospital, I took advantage of the time away from normality and rested up.

When I got home after the 5 days, I wasn’t back to myself at all. In fact, I felt worse. My eyes took another week to clear up, and I was still on heavy medication.  It’s only now that my family members have started commenting on how much better I look. I can honestly say I didn’t realise how unwell I was until I started to get better.

I sometimes think I don’t have MS, that I’ve imagined it all and that I am spoofing everyone. The relapse made me realise that it’s not all in my head. I had a follow up appointment with my neurologist last week, who said other patients have made similar comments. I guess when we’re all functioning as normal we don’t realise how hard our bodies are working to fight this illness. And sometimes we have to give in.

But, I am a stubborn article, who doesn’t give in easily. So, yeah, I blame the World Cup.


Author: Niamh McCarron

Tags: relapse, symptoms, opticalneuritis, vision, ms


Sue Gardener

Thursday August 21 2014 11:39

I had a relapse this year in Feb/March so far every relapse hits my legs/feet, stress brings it on & Grandad had just broken his hip, 3 weeks later he sadly he died in hospital & 2 days after that I was in the same hospital when I accepted I could ignore this relapse no longer. 5 days & IV & I was back home. The recovery time is slow though, I've only just stopped walking with a stick & started taking the dog for very short walks, I remain positive but the never knowing if you're gonna wake up to a good day or a bad day ability wise is the hardest thing to deal with.


Thursday August 21 2014 11:54

Thank you for sharing, I really do feel that our bodies work over time for a normal days work.. I managed to get away for a few days and slept 2 hrs every day! It was heaven, if only it could be done everyday :)

Aidan Mc Donnell

Thursday August 21 2014 12:24

Isn't this MS thing strange You hate the summer because of the heat. Where my wife, who has PPMS, suffers from the cold and hates the winter.

Monica Farren

Thursday August 21 2014 13:28

Thanks for sharing. I can relate to everything you've described and have had optic neuritis twice. Have been on Tysabri since Nov 2007 and have only had one relapse which was related to stress brought on by a car accident. I don't believe in letting MS dictate what I can or can't do. I just had to learn to live life at a different pace.

Niamh Mc Carron

Thursday August 21 2014 15:10

Thanks for sharing your comments, it's great to hear other experiences.

Kay Brosnan

Thursday August 21 2014 16:23

Just found out that I have MS lost the sight in my right eye six weeks ago I thought it was hay fever or something silly woke up Sunday morning with a chronic headache went to the chemist went to work sight still not back so by Wednesday went to doctor ended up in Cork hospital for two weeks. Went back to Cork last Tuesday and it was confirmed relapse ms :'( I'm 40 still trying to get my head around it I feel good still working full time with an amazing hard working boyfriend just nervous its my first time even going on to a forum like this BUT I don't feel so much on my own now so thank you.

Joan Jordan

Thursday August 21 2014 19:02

Another great blog Niamh! Optical Neuritis sucks- so does the World Cup....


Thursday August 21 2014 20:15

Thanks for sharing your personal story Niamh. Your story has helped me to understand my brothers (MS for 25 years) behaviour and needs, especially related to the weather!


Friday August 22 2014 16:15

I have m.s. and epilepsy. I hide when the sun gets strong cos it completely wrecks me best for me is an afternoon nap. Sleep when tired if I can. I don't go into overdraft with my tiredness as it always catches me.
good to read your comments.

Niamh Mc Carron

Tuesday August 26 2014 09:22

It's so nice to get your feedback, glad our posts are helping others.

@Kay Brosnan- sorry to hear about your diagnosis, I would welcome you to the club, but it's probably not one you want to be in! I am glad to hear, that you're feeling pretty well otherwise, that will stand to you. The MS Ireland website and FB page are great places to start if you need more info.

Lucina Russell

Tuesday August 26 2014 22:44

Niamh, only reading your blog now. Hoping that you have made a full recovery now. Your comments about wondering if you have imagined you have MS made me smile. I think we all wonder that sometimes. It's a lovely thought all the same !


Wednesday May 27 2015 13:16

Missed this last year. Sorry Niamh. Great read

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