No Vacation for MS – #67

When I was first diagnosed, the doctor thought I had some kind of ear infection from flying back and forth to Germany. After two months of not getting better, they did an MRI to see if my ear crystals were out of whack. My ears looked great and my brain….not so great. Almost every time I have flown over the past ten years I get off the plane with altered equilibrium. It usually starts mild and by the end of a trip it is much worse.

Unfortunately, this past weekend was no exception. I flew out of Salt Lake on Thursday to surprise a friend in Florida for her birthday. My first mistake was picking an overnight flight. Mark and I flew out of Salt Lake at 7:30 pm. We got into Denver at 9:00 pm, flew out of Denver just before midnight and got into Ft. Lauderdale at 5:30 a.m. EST. The other mistake was thinking that all I have done with the interferons would build up some sort of resistance to this problem. I had mild equilibrium issues over the weekend but when I got home last night, I knew things were bad.

I went to sleep and prayed that I would wake up feeling great. I had a great nine hours of sleep and woke up feeling great. My prayers were answered but not for long. Within ten minutes, the dizziness was back. I don’t even know if dizzy is the right description. It feels like things are moving around me (like the floor) which throws off my balance. If I am sitting down, I feel like I am in a boat. If I am moving around, things get worse and it is hell to be in a small room as all the walls seem to be closing in. Just as I remembered from the last time this happened, it is exhausting and really nauseating.

I don’t know how MS could be aggravated by flying on an airplane. The only thing I can think of is sleep disruption. Flying combined with time changes have meant lack of sleep for me. I did nap, even on such a short trip but it did not seem to help.

I also learned that heat impacts my MS. I know this is not unusual but I was hoping I would be an exception. Laying out by a beautiful pool by the ocean, I got really hot and my feet went numb. I immediately went in the water to cool down and we didn’t stay very long. The numbness subsided almost immediately although I have been a little tingly ever since.

Is it possible that this flight related problem has nothing to do with MS? I would doubt it but it all just seems so strange.

I am trying not to get frustrated but knowing how hard I have been working to feel well, I feel stupid that I put myself in a sleep deprived situation. I did have a blast and am so glad I took the trip. My friend was so surprised!I am leaving for Mexico in a few weeks for a real vacation and need to get this resolved! I am reluctant to take the steroids if that is what the doctor recommends because a. I HATE STEROIDS and b. if I take steroids now and then have the same problem when I travel to Mexico…what is the point? I would love any input from anyone who has flares when they travel or any insight on this.

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2 responses to “No Vacation for MS – #67

  1. Gretchen Steele

    I can’t really adress the flying part, as I never fly but – I do know that lack of sleep and being “over tired” will often cause flare up of vertigo for me. Also, since we ride ( I am a passenger only these days!) so much on the motorcycle, any speed above about 80 really causes me to have vertigo, as does riding beside someone with with very loud vibrating pipes on their bike. And trust me, vertigo on a motorcycle is whole new experience! Don’t know if any of this was helpful, but just some more thoughts on vertigo. For me, the steroids really don’t help the vertigo much…and I HATE STEROIDS TOO!!!

  2. i love steroids. but that’s not really helpful to you.

    could this be a pseudo exacerbation, like when people get hot or when i don’t eat enough? i think the limit is 48 hours – if the symptoms don’t go away after 48 hours then it is a relapse.

    i can see how the exhaustion of a red eye could cause an exacerbation or a pseudo exacerbation. it also sounds like planes just do something weird to your brain, if you’ve been having issues for ten years. so maybe whatever that weirdness is gets a lot worse with the ms.

    i’m not sure why you think there is no point in taking steroids if you are going to mexico. if you take the steroids now, they should protect you for the next couple of months and if the problem is an ms exacerbation the steroids should protect you past the time you go to mexico. but on the other hand, if you are having an exacerbation and flying exacerbates your ms, you probably shouldn’t be flying so soon anyway.

    i think you should call your doctor and see what he says.

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