Body Tremors: That was a 10 on the richter scale

Have you ever lived through an earthquake? It’s such a strange feeling and can be quite scary. I woke up to one once in the middle of the night. I remember my bed shaking as if someone had grabbed ahold of the headboard and was tossing me about. Thankfully it was a minor quake and no damage occurred, but even something small like that was noticeable, scary and remembered.

This morning my bed was shaking. My first thought, “Oh no, another earthquake.” It took me a minute to focus and then I realized it wasn’t my bed that was shaking, it was me. My body goes through some really crazy tremors. Some last a short time, others can last all day. My legs, hands and head involuntarily twitch and shake.

The tremor in my right hand is the most annoying of them all. It’s not easy trying to put on my socks when my hands keep missing my feet, or trying to type on the computer as I miss every letter I reach for so I end up doing the hunt and peck instead. Even trying to eat with a spoon or fork can be quite entertaining. Food will bounce around, fall to the floor, and the utensil will even miss my mouth entirely. And don’t even get me started on my experiences of trying to drink from a full open cup. Let’s just say I have plenty of coffee stained shirts as evidence of the mishaps that occur.

Sometimes the tremors are internal. What I mean by that is my body feel as if it’s shaking, but you can’t physically see it. It’s as if every nerve in my body is on high alert and quivering. It is exhausting and can be quite uncomfortable. It’s kind of like that feeling you get after holding onto a lawn mower handle for an hour, then you stop mowing the grass but you hands still feel the vibrations. Take that feeling and imagine your entire body feeling like that. It’s an internal buzz that doesn’t stop in 10 minutes. It keeps going, and going, and going. I think it outlasts the Energizer Bunny.

Then there are the visible tremors. The ones you can’t hide. It seems like the more I try to fight them, the more pronounced they become. I even get weird twitches in the muscles in my face, thighs, hands and toes. I’ve been known to scare myself as my leg kicks out in front of me for no reason or my fingers start twitching.

Multiple Sclerosis is so unpredictable. Most of the time I’m okay when the bizarre things happen. But to be honest, I have moments when it really gets to me. It seems like those times have been happening more and more lately. I try hard to not focus on the symptoms or the unknown craziness of this disease, but when things get to the point where I’m feeling the weight and sadness pulling me down, I do what we all do…I let it all out and cry, scream and sigh feeling defeated.

When storms come and bring about a lot of damage, it’s only natural to experience sadness and grief; to feel overwhelmed, misplaced, uncertain of tomorrow and simply hoping to get through today. But once the shock is over, that’s when the rebuilding begins.

So after I allow myself a good cry and have vented every emotion imaginable, I remind myself that I’m not defeated and that it’s time for the rebuilding to begin. That’s not always easy to do, but it’s doable. Give yourself a break. Pause and have a piece of pie. Don’t be so hard on yourself for being human and feeling. Take a deep breath, wipe the tears, blow your nose and keep going.

9 replies
  1. Terry
    Terry says:

    yes, tremors that come on unexpectedly can be alarming … When i turn in for the night, my first few minutes lying down are when i notice the whole body tremor … but it lasts only a few minutes … until I get up a few hours later and then return to bed, and the tremor repeats for another few minutes. Today at the dermatologists (for more skin cancer biopsies) the full body tremor made an appearance in response to the painful injections at each biopsy site … I reminded my dermatologist that it was an ms tremor, not a fearful response to the pain. Don’t know if he believed me or thought i was making an excuse…

  2. Roland Clarke
    Roland Clarke says:

    I can so relate to many of these tremors so thanks for making me nod and even smile, Penelope. There’s strength in knowing that we are not alone. I have one tremor that I call my piledriver as my leg goes up and down as if it was attempting to bash a hole in the ground.

  3. Peggy
    Peggy says:

    Thanks again Penelope …. such truths about MS. Have lots of not just coffee stain shirts..pants..all sorts DRINK. And as you say.. my leg kicks out… Why I don’t drive! And one of the reasons had stop working those not being able type issues…

  4. Karen
    Karen says:

    I feel for you, tremors are awful, internal and external. I call them electric shocks as that is what they feel like to me, it’s like being zapped and having your limbs jerk and shake. Just another fun thing to deal with. Wishing a good day for you😎

  5. Gale Vester
    Gale Vester says:

    Internal or external, tremors are terrifying at first, but they do find a downward slope, where they calm down…to only ramp up again.

    The only earthquake I’ve experienced came to Copenhagen, Denmark, in the wee hours of the day, when I couldn’t sleep anyway, so I slipped out of bed to the living room, where I was doing whatever it was online, when BANG! No sound effects needed here, ’cause it didn’t last terribly long anyhow. But my husband (then boyfriend) slept through it! If I were to sleep through my bodily tremors, well, I’m not at all sure what would happen.

  6. Christine Fielding
    Christine Fielding says:

    Hi there
    A few years ago, I was seeing a psychologist for anxiety, I was trying to explain to him that my skin felt as if it was trembling. He told me it was not a symptom of anxiety. But me ,in my own wisdom decided that it was as it had started with the anxiety symptoms.As I got better,the trembling stopped, reaffirming my self=diagnosis.A few months ago, I started with jerky movements in my hands while using my keyboard, I self-diagnosed it was because of the carpal tunnel symptoms.Then I read your email this morning and…..wonder of wonders,it all fell into place. Hahaha,what a relief to know what it really is. I also felt better on reading the piece on forgetfulness.As my doctor told me, you cant presume everything is to do with MS, so I did nt. And yes, it took me ages to write this, I had to keep using backspace button as my finger kept pressing one key repeatedly. Ah, such is life…..and MS,

  7. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    Thanks for your honest post Penelope. I have been through the same thing. Back on February 22 2011 at 12:52 pm (local time) I was putting out some recycling in our wheely bins and everything started shaking and I thought I had a relapse. But it wasn’t me, the whole place was shaking and then came the rumble. It was a 6.5 Richter earthquake and lasted a good minute at first, then it hit the fan and we started down a very rocky road with in the first year we had 10,000 after shocks above 3 Richter scale. There was a lot of things happening during that time and enough to fill a book.
    But we are still here in a broken home and that’s another volume.
    I have been fortunate that I don’t get tremors from MS so external shakes were the norm for a lot of people.

  8. KT
    KT says:

    I can relate to internal tremors especially, but also visible twitching. Sometimes I am just laying there and suddenly my entire body twitches so hard it hurts. It’s like one giant convulsion. I am sorry, Penelope, you are having more problems with it. Thank you for, again, showing I am not alone.

  9. Meeya
    Meeya says:

    Oh my dearest fellow warrior ,
    you described just the morning I had today, when a combined cramp & tremors made it very hard for me to get out of my bathtub after taking a shower … 😭
    Lucky me – by the time I finally managed, the tears had dried and I was ready to face the world again…! 🙂
    And guess what – I indeed was rewarded, and had a lovely day, meeting wonderful people!!
    Hoping you were just as lucky today, and with best wishes!


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