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Pill Popping

During the last four months my MS has been stable.  The most balanced it’s been since diagnosis.  Nothing has radically improved, but nothing has got worse and most mercifully no new symptoms have arrived.  It feels as if I’ve not known another period like it except, of course, I have.

Although I was diagnosed with MS in 2010, my ‘onset’ came at the close of 2007 with an undiagnosed bout of optic neuritis.  When it cleared up in early 2008 I had no symptoms to speak of for two years.  This was the  ‘remittance’ mentioned in the moniker of my disease that I’ve not known a lot of these last couple of years.  In 2008/9 I  was unawares I was enjoying it.  A double blessing undoubtedly.

It was when I thought about these two periods of relative calm and what was similar about them that I realised I was on the oral contraceptive pill during both periods.  I came off it after my diagnosis which led into a year or so of worsening health.  As was featured in the news recently here in the UK, pregnancy has long been observed to have a positive impact on autoimmune diseases.  Hence the simulation of pregnancy or rather the increasing of the female sex hormones in the body generated by the oral contraceptive pill has also been investigated for its positive impact on MS (more details here if you scroll down).  Although larger studies need to be completed, those undertaken thus far have showed that the OC pill seems to overall have a positive impact on the course of MS and may also delay the onset of MS in women susceptible to the condition.

So the pill works for me, now.  It might not continue to work and it certainly does not work for everyone. Yet it is proof that it’s often worth trying different strategies with the disease until something sticks for you.  It only seems a shame that when I mentioned I was coming off the pill to my neurologist a month after my diagnosis, none of the research into the hormonal aspects of MS, however tentative, was mentioned.  Having been more noticeably effective on my disease than either of the DMD’s I’ve so far taken, the pill seems to be the trendsetting trainer of my dreams and it turned out I had them hanging around at the back of my wardrobe all the time!  After I turned out positive on the new JC Virus stratified test which became available earlier this year, I decided not to move on to Tysabri, so the discovery that the pill was having a stabilising impact was a reassuring one.

As ever with this capricious disease there is no knowing when this period of calm will end.  Yet that it exists and has existed, has improved my hopes for my own condition as I approach the five years mark from its onset.

3 comments to Pill Popping

  • sarah

    hi
    it is so interesting to learn about the pill having a positive impact on ms. i am 33 now and was diagnosed when i was 26. i have had 3 children since and have definetly had a marked improvement since being pregnant. when i am pregnant i have no symptoms at all and overall my attacks are far reduced and further apart. i think i will just keep having babies!
    great website! ;)
    sarah

  • Martin Craig

    alas alack, I am a bloke – nonetheless, the opening lines of your post rang so true with me. I similarly had a sequence of undiagnosed symptoms going back at least as far as 2007. In 2009 I had a humdinger. Since then, I’ve had 2 more akin to the early ones. In my naivety, I believed all relapses to be ‘humdingers’, the others being ‘symptoms’. Speaking to my MS nurse recently, I learned that what happened in 2009 was exceptional and that all the others were ‘normal’.

    This information came on the back of a recent period of desolation. It has all worked out sort of good for me, though – the new information coincided with the final realisation that I’m not the man I used to be and to accept it and that I can’t do things I used to do. This prompted me to embark on an indulgence of who I probably always thought I should be. That is, I’m more inclined to speak my mind.

    It also coincided with a return to college books I should have read 30 years ago, namely the existentialists.

    Another milestone was remembering a documentary I saw years ago, “Some Yo Yo stuff”, about Captain Beefheart who had MS and who died in 2010. I remembered a quote from him, “I approach the world gingerly, because the world touches too hard.” This quote has resonated so strongly with me recently.

  • Interesting, like Sarah I felt great during pregnancy and also while I was breastfeeding. My son is now 3 years old, and most of my pre pregnancy symptoms. Sadly fatigue refuses to go away, but we can’t have it all I guess. I came off the pill before diagnoses so I wouldn’t really know if it was any difference on that for me.

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