Quiet beach at sunset

Meditation and medication

People with MS can be a desperate bunch when seeking ways to manage our symptoms and I am no exception, but not without reason.

I am prescribed an alarming consumption of Gabapentin to the tune of 3,400mgs a day.  Just let that settle in for a moment because that is a scary amount of pill popping.  But as it helps to alleviate excruciating discomfort of trying to cope with what I can only call MS-related Parkinson’s, it’s necessary.

The sensitivity of my nerve ends meant that for the past eighteen years I couldn’t sit or lay down without reaction or discomfort. The medication works, kind of, in one way or another, which is not the same as saying “Hey, it works!”.  I put up with it because some relief is better than nothing. But after nearly twenty years it gets old.  

Then there are those nightly toilet breaks which only compound a truly miserable MS Room 101 existence. On the other hand, it’s not as though I haven’t tried something other than traditional medicine. In my time I have turned to all sorts of alternative medicines and practices.

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I close my eyes, I inhale and exhale - and concentrate on positivity, rest and relaxation

The fact is nothing worked; that was, specifically, until the last week of October. That was when, thanks to my wife who urged me to try, I started to meditate. For a while I’ve even been wanting to increase my dosage of Gabapentin to the maximum of 3,600mgs a day but then where do I go after that? So for me, or maybe her, it was the latest act of a desperate man to try something. Anything.  

Yet as I write, after such a short time since I began meditating, and although I can’t say I’m fixed or cured, it feels like something extraordinary has happened to make me believe I could be on my way.  

I still can’t say why or how focusing my mind has resulted in a calming of my MS-related symptoms, but it appears to have done just that. I meditate once or twice a day.

I close my eyes, I inhale and exhale – it’s all about controlled breathing – and concentrate on positivity, rest and relaxation.

Without question, something has connected with me in a way that nothing else has including, the ultimate miracle, a less active bladder at night and a body that no longer feels like it’s suffering from Parkinson’s symptoms. Well, at least, not as acutely, and every little helps.

After only a couple of months of daily meditation maybe the relief I get is psychosomatic.  Perhaps it’s nothing more than a placebo effect of meditating to the candle smell of freshly cut roses or even just wishful thinking on my part. Yet waking every morning feeling more optimistic about the day ahead convinces me that it’s not.

Martin is a writer and literary consultant. You can find out more about his work at martinbaum.co.uk.