The multiple sclerosis ‘hug’ is a tight feeling around the torso of some people living with the condition. I understand it to be caused by the spasms of intercostals, the muscles present in between the ribs. It is hard to describe, and harder to live with. I was afflicted by several symptoms of MS before the hug came, but it was the hug which alarmed me enough to seek a doctor.
It came on slowly. It wasn’t a constant sensation, this tight-band feeling just beneath my breasts and all the way around my torso. It felt like I was wearing a 34 bra on my 36 frame, uncomfortable, but not painful. It came and went, depending on my activity level.
I’m not sure of the exact date it came and stayed, but it has been constant for a year. It is easily the most insidious of my suite of MS symptoms. It changes the shape of my ribcage when it becomes very tight. On a good day, it is a 3-4 on a scale from 1-10. Most days are a 5-6, and when relapsing, 7-8. I don’t want to know what the worst of it feels like.
Last month, I realized it was about a full year old. I decided it wasn’t going to just go away. I gave it a birthday of May 1st and told everyone I was going to name it since it was a real thing. Everyone knows I’m a namer-of-things, so this isn’t anything out of the ordinary.
This MS hug is now always present, but it is never seen. It is always in the background and always unpredictable, yet if it wasn’t for the hug coming to join my party, I might not have sought medical attention. I could have had my treatment delayed and been far worse off than I am now.
So to that, I have decided to name the constant hug around my chest Boobs Radley. While many people identify with Scout in the story ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ I identify closer to Boo, and so does my hug ;) I’ll probably shorten the in-novel nickname to an even shorter nickname for my purposes.
If you can’t live with it or rip it out and burn it, you ought to give it a name and throw a party for it.