If you follow here, you know that my husband was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in December 2020 after 2 years of symptoms that could be brushed off as just getting older.
Here is what PPMS means for us. It is not necessarily the same path for others with the same diagnosis.
At Christmas in 2018, his balance issues began. He began using a cane for balance, especially outdoors. At times he appeared drunk and our joke was that he would not pass a field sobriety test. When he saw his PCP about the nagging back pain, Doc asked him to walk for him. His left foot was dragging. Doc ordered an MRI of the brain and a consult with a neurologist who specializes in MS. Hubby had been tested for Lyme and other more likely culprits. When those results were negative, it was time to consider a zebra rather than a horse.
COVID-19 slowed the process quite a bit. We live away from hubs where certain types of care are more easily accessible. It took a while before the vaccine arrived where we live and a bit longer to get an appointment. This was necessary before he could get a lumbar puncture which was scheduled in November 2020.
He went from using the cane, to a rollator, to a borrowed manual wheelchair and is now in a power wheelchair. He can no longer transfer on his own, which is difficult. From cane to manual wheelchair happened in about six months. He’s been in the power wheelchair for about two or three months. It’s helped him get outdoors.
Our day begins when I dress him while he’s still in bed. His left leg does not function, so it’s like dressing a 200 pound mannequin . He’s in pain every single day. After his pants are on, I position him on the bed with his legs over the edge and bring him upright so his shirt can be put on. I then get the wheelchair close to the bed and using a transfer board, I get him into the wheelchair. For now, he gets sponge baths until we figure out how to safely transfer him to the shower chair.
I then fix his coffee and juice so he can take his medications. Because his hands lack fine touch and also due to pain, I now fill his medication containers for the week.
At times he needs help with toileting. His brain does not give him enough time to transfer to a toilet chair in time, thus the urinals.
Holding a cup is sketchy for him now. At times I have to cut his food for him. I try to trim his mustache. He needs a haircut. It’s very long now and it needs washing. I pay attention to cleaning his feet.
At bedtime, I get him transferred into bed and undress him and give him a quick wash. He can’t roll to his right on his own, so I roll him over. He can roll to his left with minimal difficulty. Sometimes during the night, his body contorts due to spasms. He tries not to awaken me. I made him promise to wake me if he needs help and not to suffer in silence.
I stay up a little later than he does and watch mindless television just for the me time.
My heart is breaking. It seems he is slowly disappearing. He has his mind. His jobs are to order groceries online, do the bills and menu planning. I see his abilities disappearing. I don’t treat him any differently. We crack jokes and have an occasional breakfast out and have returned to in-person worship.
He’ll be 70 in the fall. I am afraid of losing him. I love him.