Recently, I have had several people ask me to define or explain “slump week” as it pertains to taking Tysabri. As I sat trying to come up with a “blanket answer”, I realized that there isn’t one. Each person that has MS is going to have a different form of MS. Their symptoms and ways of dealing with those symptoms will also be different. Then I thought, “who is the person asking the question”? Do they have MS? Have they recently started Tysabri and they are afraid of “Slump week”? Maybe they are trying to explain what slump week feels like to someone else that doesn’t have MS?
While I am always happy to talk with people and try to explain, not everyone is comfortable talking on the phone, meeting in person, or even just reaching out to someone in email. So, I will attempt to explain it here and hope that it helps answer the question for some of you.
For those of you that are afraid of slump week, let me start by explaining what it is NOT.
It does not mean your MS is getting worse or that you are experiencing a flare up. It may feel like it in the beginning, because your MS symptoms may be a bit more noticeable. You may be a bit more “foggy” than normal. Your legs may feel heavier than usual. If you fight fatigue, you may feel like you haven’t slept in days even though you just woke up from a full eight hours. Basically, it feels like your MS symptoms are more pronounced than your personal norm. Everything feels a bit “off”.
It’s also Important to know that not everyone goes through slump week. For those that do, it isn’t necessarily a full week of more pronounced symptoms, and it may not happen every time before your next infusion. If you have MS, you hopefully have learned by now that there are ways to work around your challenges. Maybe you can’t walk as long, or as far as you used to, but have learned that a cane or frequent breaks can help. The cool part is knowing that, IT WILL PASS!!!!!
For those of you looking for a way to explain it to someone that doesn’t have MS or has not experienced Slump week, think about your audience and try to use something from that person’s life to explain. For example, if you are explaining it to someone who is a caffeine addict, ask them to think about the way they feel before they have had caffeine for the day. What if they had no way to get that caffeine fix? They would spend a lot of time trying to come up with a work around for it, and that is probably time that they were supposed to be accomplishing something else. Maybe they would be late for work, because they had to stop to buy some form of caffeine. Or worse, while they were driving to pick something up they almost got into an accident because they didn’t have enough caffeine to focus on driving. Of course, this example would not work for someone that doesn’t drink caffeine, but you can try to find an example from their personal life to use. You can also explain that it’s like having a full week’s worth of Mondays in one day. Another example is sitting in road construction, you will get where you are going eventually. It doesn’t actually cause you physical pain, but it does make you uncomfortable.
Ask them to imagine being given a task or several tasks, but not being given the tools they need to complete the task. Sure you can probably find a way to make it work or wing it, but that is frustrating and tiring, not to mention very time consuming and usually unproductive.
As I sat trying to think of an analogy that would work for everyone to explain slump week, I came up with quite the list of examples of life experiences that cause “regular”people to feel frustrated, or unproductive that you might be able to use when trying to explain slump week. Ask people to think about how they feel when these things happen to them, then tell them they have to do it over and over again numerous times in a day. THAT is what slump week FEELS like. It’s not gonna kill you, but it’s not any fun 😦