According to the MS website, “numbness of the face, body or extremities (arms and legs) is one of the most common symptoms of MS. Often it’s the first symptom experienced by those eventually diagnosed with MS. The numbness may be mild or so severe that it interferes with the ability to use the affected body part. For example, a person with very numb feet may have difficulty walking. Numb hands may prevent writing, dressing, or holding objects safely. People with MS who have severe facial numbness should be very careful when eating or chewing, as they may unwittingly bite the inside of their mouth or tongue. People with numbness over other parts of the body should be careful around fires, hot water and other sources of heat, as they may suffer a burn without realizing it.”
I am going through a period where my lips and mouth are very numb. This numbness affects me in two ways. When I try to talk, my words are hard to form and I hesitate to speak for fear of not being able to say the words I am trying to say. The second way it affects me is when I am trying to eat. I am always conscious of chewing my jaw accidently or biting my tongue. I also have a problem with feeling the food in my mouth and worry about not chewing it correctly and possibly choking. Being able to swallow is a struggle for me at times. I choke easily and have to really be careful when swallowing.
Many people with MS talk slowly. As the disease progresses with some, speech is one of the things that is noticeable as a symptom. Not only can they not form words, but the words are not readily available in their minds. This, as I have already said, makes a person talk in a slow, mumbling type of speech.
As I have said before, the numbness in my right leg is present all the time. I have gotten to the place that I really don’t think about it much anymore. I am always cautious when going up and down stairs or walking where I have nothing to hold on to. I drag the leg around and try to make sure that it is holding me up before taking a step.
With all the jokes about women talking so much, I guess many men would love for their wives to have a numb mouth and not talk so much. My husband is not in that category. We love to discuss things and really enjoy our conversations. I try to keep up my side of the discussion, but when I can’t, he just slows down and lets me catch up at my own pace. Sometimes, we just sit and enjoy the companionship of each other.
I think that I have gotten so used to writing my thoughts, rather than speaking them, because of these problems. Not only the numbness in my mouth, but also the cognitive problems, have made me write my thoughts more because there are so many times that I cannot say them. When writing I can take my time and wait for the words to come to me. I try to go back and make sure that I am writing what I want to say, but often read them at a later time and realize that they may make sense only to me. I hope that some of the things I write relate to others in the way that I am trying to say them. If not, at least I tried and did not give up. I guess that is all that we can hope to do with this disease!