Ever play the What If game and it gets really, really sobering? Instead of, what if you had a million dollars, it was what if you lose one of your senses? (Yes, I am the worst conversationalist ever – beware party people, I turn dark real quick.)
That almost happened to me last year. I woke up one day and the vision in my left eye was practically gone. It was as though a windowshade was slowly being drawn over my eye. I was terrified.
I went to the eye doctor that morning. An ophthalmologist and retina specialist later, and it was determined I had optic neuritis. It’s a medical crapshoot predicting whether it is just plain old optic neuritis or the first sign of MS. I was in the latter half, obviously.
So what if I lose one of my senses? I think sight would leave me feeling the most vulnerable, most alone. Sound would be a tough one to lose, too. I must have music in my life to be happy. Taste/smell? Yeah, I’d probably miss those.
But touch. I had never thought about losing my sense of touch.
And then it happened — I was, apologies to Pink Floyd — uncomfortably numb.
In what was probably my third exacerbation of MS, the right side of my body became tingly, and my hand suffered the brunt of the symptoms. It was tight and felt pruny, like it had been wrapped in duct tape and left underwater overnight.
I lost all sensation in it.
Touch has to be the the sense we take the most for granted. Certainly, for me, it is one of the most powerful.
My baby blanket had a name: So Soft, which is what I presume Little Me described it as to anyone listening. My So Soft lasted until I was about 7, and by that time it was nothing more than loose scraps of molt literally hanging on by a thread. I have a vague memory of rubbing the frayed edge between my thumb and forefinger until I fell asleep. If I think hard enough about it, I can still feel the satiny ribbon up against the more coarse cotton.
I think I’ve always been fascinated with touch. In college, I had this velvet shirt I called sexy shirt. Not because I looked hot in it or anything, but because I would, without even realizing it, rub it.
To then not be able to feel, to be robbed of the tactile sensations that are part of every facet of life, was excruciating.
There was no difference between a metal slab and a plush blanket when I ran my hands over them. My cats, while I could feel their shape and weight, were just nondescript objects as I tried to pet them. Good thing I’m a southpaw — my right hand became pretty useless for about two months.
My world, while back in Technicolor and rich with sound, was decidedly less wonderful without the sensation of touch.