It’s the afternoon and I’m shuffling around my house, trying to focus. I have my lists — all the tip books for MS suggest making lists. There’s the to-do-this-week list, the to-do-before-Christmas list, and the things-I-should-try-to-do-in-general list. There is, of course, the things-I-should-try-not-to-forget list. But the lists and lists aren’t helping me focus.
Oh, I know: The dishes need to be done. I’ll feel better when I’ve finished that! So, I start with the dishes and realize I might have more motivation if I had music going. I dry my hands and head to the stereo.
But then I see my computer and try to remember if I responded to that important email I received this morning. Yes, I see now that I did, but there are some more emails to read. I get overwhelmed with the amount of junk emails and chain emails coursing through my account and give up, deciding to play FreeCell instead. (What’s up with us MSers and FreeCell? Every MSer I know is addicted to FreeCell.)
My meds are giving me an awful taste in my mouth, so I get up to brush my teeth and drink some water. I see that I barely started the dishes, and dunk my hands into the soapy dishpan yet again.
Three plates and five minutes later, the 8 oz. of H2O has gone right through me, and I’m off to the bathroom. How on earth am I supposed to drink eight more glasses today? I might as well move into my bathroom.
The fog in my brain continues. The only thing I can focus on is my lack of ability to focus. I’m forever existing in this fog-like state. I think of the movie “The Fog”. Figures. Leave it to me to equate my multiple sclerosis to a horror movie.
But is “The Fog” the right horror movie? I’m wandering around, lost in my own little world, and not feeling quite right — almost zombie-like. Yes, zombies. Zombies are a good description. I’m an MS zombie for sure.
I’ll likely stay like this until I fall asleep, where I’ll be alive but dead to the world for at least 10 hours. Then it hits me — it’s not “The Fog,” but the “Night of the Living Dead.”
Somehow, thinking of my MS in terms of horror movies brings me comfort as I try to remember what it is I was supposed to be doing. “Night of the Living Dead,” that’s definitely the horror movie for sure.
Or is it? Sometimes, I just want to scream. Actually, I just want to scream a lot. Maybe my MS is actually “Scream”? I’ve always been a Neve Campbell fan, but does the movie “Scream” completely reflect all that my MS is to me?
It likely depends on what my MS is doing on any given day. Often, it makes me think I’m going crazy. I think of the classic line in “Psycho”: “She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes.”
I remember all the hysterical mood swings and weird symptoms I experienced before I knew I had the disease. I remember hundreds of instances of being convinced that I was getting the flu due to the insane body aches, only to have them disappear, believing myself to be a hypochondriac. I remember all the people in the world around me being totally off-kilter but acting as though I was the one who was screwed up.
Like when I had to go to my dry cleaner’s several times in one week insisting that they had given me the wrong pants:
“Yes, they fit. Yes, they are the same color. Yes, they have the same fashion label and size label. But these pants have cuffs at the bottom hems. My pants don’t have cuffs. Yes, of course I’ know if they were my pants or not. I will keep them as I need black work pants, but one day soon someone is going to come in and say they have the wrong pants and I’m telling you, I have theirs and they have mine. Feel free to call me when that happens and I’ll exchange them.”
My dry cleaner and I had this little diatribe over and over. Funny how the other customer never realized she had the wrong pants.
Yes, “Psycho” is the movie. That’s the one which most describes my MS. And it’s appropriate, as when I was a teenager I had actually waited on Anthony Perkins at a candy store only 10 days after seeing “Psycho” for the first time.
My friend Heather worked at the store, too, and she was too freaked out to wait on him, so it was left up to me. I gave him a whole extra half pound of penuche fudge so he wouldn’t bring out his knife and start swinging. Yes, “Psycho” feels right.
Bathroom again, but I stop to remove the pebble in my sock. Except there’s no pebble. What’s that annoying feeling? And that one, the sudden sharp jab in my left arm? And that one, the squeezing and releasing of my abdomen as if my stomach were in a vase? And here are those weird ear noises again — has my body been taken over by aliens?
That’s it, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” That’s definitely the horror movie which best describes my MS. It all makes sense now: Aliens have taken over and turned me into a screaming, psychotic zombie living in a deep fog.
Finally having this serious question answered (and finishing up what’s likely my tenth trip to the bathroom), I try again to remember what I was supposed to be doing. Oh right, the dishes!
I shuffle back and plunge my hands into the now cold water. As I do so, I feel awkward and completely out of sorts. I’m tired and clumsy and blinking from the glare of the setting sun. Funny how images of “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” begin to cloud my foggy, psychotic brain. Here we go again…
If your MS was a horror movie, which horror movie would it be?
A version of this article originally appeared on YvonnedeSousa.com.
Yvonne deSousa is living with relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis and is the author of “MS Madness! A ‘Giggle More, Cry Less’ Story of Multiple Sclerosis.” Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.