Like many things in my life, it began with cake.
Leaving a friend’s house after enjoying a slice (okay, two slices) of delicious cake. I turned to say, ‘thanks for the cake!’ but it came out as ‘thanks, Kate’. Odd. I tried again. Same thing.
I went home perplexed. The Teenager was away for the weekend and over the course of the next two days my speech deteriorated, I was exhausted and my balance was shot. I knew something was seriously wrong.
I eventually ended up in hospital, talking gibberish. The clues were all there. The overwhelming tiredness over the previous six months, the dodgy walking, the simplest tasks taking forever. Throw in a childhood in Scotland and a parent with MS and I guessed the rest.
I assumed I would be diagnosed there and then (ha!) but that was just the beginning. Until I had a further relapse, I was in Limboland with no idea how long I would stay there. It took a year to hear the dreaded words, ‘highly active/rapidly evolving relapsing remitting MS’.
That year was probably the worst of my life. The lumbar puncture was a vile, medieval torture, the MRIs were terrifying and I lost count of how many blood tests I had. I lay awake at night, rigid with fear, worrying about the future. A lot of people say the day they are finally diagnosed is both the best and worst day of their lives. I agree. After all the waiting, the anxiety, the fears, it was a relief to finally have some answers. But it doesn’t make it any easier.
My main priority was to keep life going on as normal as possible for The Teenager. I would sleep in the afternoons, setting my alarm so I was awake just before he got home from school, duvet tucked away behind the sofa. I hid my anxiety. I became best friends with the pizza delivery man.
Those were dark, dark days. They are behind me now and an uncertain future still lies ahead, but isn’t that true for everyone? And as for cake, well, it certainly hasn’t put me off…