Saturday, April 22, 2017
Black Swan MS
I learned about Black Swan events recently as they relate to investing. Multiple Sclerosis symptoms and progression seem to me to be personal Black Swan events. Nassim Nicholas Taleb developed the theory based on the history of black swans being thought of as an impossibility. It was a known fact that they didn’t exist. So when black swans were discovered it was a surprise and significant, and in hindsight black swans seemed like something that people could have predicted or should have expected.
Being diagnosed with MS was an enormous Black Swan event in my life. Suddenly the extreme fatigue, numbness and bowel issues that held no explanation for many years were obviously indications that something was wrong with my body. The signs were there, but I didn’t recognize them as related to each other or of any significance. Given how much these symptoms impacted my life, hindsight makes me seem foolish for not connecting them to a major health issue.
Most recently, my feet started buckling more frequently with a frustrating experience of losing the ability to walk temporarily. It surprised me. It made me realize that MS is affecting my legs much more than I’d thought. And in hindsight I remember all of the dismissible moments when my feet would buckle. There were times when one foot would stop supporting me while standing among friends. Other times while walking, one foot would shift so that I lost my footing on flat ground and needed to catch myself. I just thought they were odd, one-off unexplainable experiences. Now I recognize them as a very common MS symptom that I already knew about - spasticity. What is obvious to me now seems like it should have been obvious to me then. In my defense, the frequency and impact previously had been low. Since they’ve increased, I see a pattern and progression.
Now that I know what’s happening, I can work with my doctor to try to offset how my body is behaving. I’m continuing to do stretching, strengthening and movement activities, and I’m adding medication, massage and physical therapy. My shoe choices are also changing to reduce embarrassment and possible injury. It’ll take time and effort to see if I can change the course of how MS affects me.
It’s like reading a book or watching a movie where all will be revealed at the end. I’m living in the middle of my story, and by the end the mysteries of my body will be pieced together, explained and understood.