My Handy MS Handbag

Sunglasses. Earplugs. Antibacterial wipes. Small perfume dispenser. Plasters.

Key ring with a medical sign. Batteries for mobile phone. Detailed emergency list. Extra medicines.

These are the ‘just-in-case’ items I always have with me when I leave the house.

During a recent visit to the cinema, I realized that my handbag was missing a few of these items. I was hoping my viewing of “Murder on the Orient Express” wouldn’t turn nasty; unfortunately, it did.

Two days before seeing the film, I experienced facial pain which reduced my adaptability to endure the increased, sudden sound effects and flashing lights of the film. Wearing earplugs and sunglasses in the cinema might look funny, but they serve a purpose. Not being one to give up, I stayed and watched the film. This was one murder case I would watch until the end.

I filled my ears with paper tissues, and tried to listen instead of watch. Neither worked.

The balance between do’s and don’ts is just a small one, but it is one I should have paid more attention to this time. I should’ve listened to the thoughts in the back of my mind telling me to check my handbag once more before leaving the house.

I sometimes feel that MS is an illness that knows how to let its unpredictable symptoms make an entrance. The “just-in-case” items exist for a very good reason. Call it a survival kit, or an “I so will not give in to you”’ rescue bag. At some stage, though you may not want to admit it, you will need that bag of goodies. I learned this the hard way.

One day while grocery shopping, I was nearing the tills when a sudden, very loud bang resounded throughout the supermarket. Being blessed by a set of otherwise well-working ears, I buckled over; it felt as if a lightning bolt just travelled through my ear, eyes, and side of my face. In that split-second, I wished for nothing more than to be wearing my earplugs. Trigeminal neuralgia, rather like “facial pain on steroids,” just told me it was back with a vengeance.

If I had my earplugs in that day, I would have been able to continue my shopping.

Nobody can control their environment all day, every day, nor should they be expected too. Even after years of trigeminal neuralgia making unexpected arrivals, I still cannot find a way of being completely prepared for episodes like these. Over time, things have been added to the handy handbag out of necessity. People have asked why I keep so many practical items in my handbag I laugh it off thinking “would you like to swap your central nervous system for mine for a day?”. If you know that unexpected MS symptoms have upset events in the past, boosting your bag with a few extra items could be the difference between sadly needing to go home, or happily staying until the end of an event.

I’ve become truly attached to some of my MS-related items. For example, because of osteoarthritis in my neck, I wear a scarf every day, even when I’m home, and never leave the house without it. Equally helpful are my sunglasses, which even sit on top of my hat in wintertime, and my antibacterial wipes, eye drops, and plasters are a godsend. Lastly, my handbag wouldn’t be complete without a big planner and a blue, red and green pen in case I hear or see new ideas, phrases or words I might later write about.

I’m sure Mrs. Christie would agree.

Other small items that might come in handy in your handbag:

  • Facial wipes
  • A small pill dispenser that holds medicines in case you end up in hospital and they cannot dispense your medicines straightaway
  • Antibacterial wipes are better than its liquid form, not just to clean your hands, but especially helpful for wiping a toilet seat
  • Small pack of plasters
  • Mobile phone battery boosters/portable chargers for your mobile phone should you need to contact someone
  • Safety pins
  • Foldable walking stick
  • ID and insurance cards
  • A small printed message saying you have MS balance issues for example, and you might need help standing up or getting to the bathroom. You can use this message anywhere you find yourself in need of a pair of hands
  • A printed Word document listing emergency details like the contact details of your family, physicians, hospital reference numbers, overview of medicines etc.
  • Set of contact lenses

Related Articles

Fad Diets and MS – What’s the Skinny?

Does your friend’s latest fad diet sound a little fishy? We’re sharing the skinny on the latest healthy eating trends and whether or not they could impact MS symptoms.

read more

Moving town with MS

LLY blogger Alexandra

shares her top tips to make moving house with MS a stress-free experience.

read more
Alexandra Reiche
Written by
Alexandra Reiche
This website intends to use cookies to improve the site and your experience. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to accept our use of cookies. If you require further information and/or do not wish to have cookies placed when using the site click here: About Cookies.
Don't show me this again