Tag Archives: birthday

Happy 28th Birthday To Me!

birthdayI was diagnosed with MS four years ago this week.

If you’re anything like me, and each MS-diagnosed year feels like a dog year, then that makes 28 years I’ve had to get used to this.

And, whoah, do I feel every single one of those years.

Four years? Is that all?

But, as with any birthday, there is a lot to celebrate. Challenges? I’ve had a few. I’m still here. Bad times? Many, and I’m still here. Horrendous, vile, despicable times? Too many to mention but they are behind me now. This week is about having a look over how far I’ve come, not just about the hurdles I had to clamber over to get here.

The Teenager is thriving; he’s just finished his last exam, has actually hoovered his entire bedroom and emptied his bin and even decided to start cooking for us both a couple of nights a week, in preparation for university life. First up? Beans on toast. Yum. It’s the thought that counts.

Don’t tell the boss, but I love my job. The alternating work sites so I’m never bored, the camaraderie, the fresh air. I adore it. I can pick and choose my hours so medical appointments are never a problem. There’s no tutting or eye-rolling when I take a bit of time out to shake off the Uthoff’s or get to grips with foot drop.

I’ve just entered the dissertation stage of my master’s degree. It’s flown by and here I am. Completely unprepared and uncoached in academia-speak, but I will try my hardest. And when I hand over my hard-backed version to my tutor in twenty years, I will be beaming from ear to ear.

And last but not least, I have been through a major life-upheaval with my mum being ill. I found strength I never knew I had and thanks to my fabulous friends and family, I have navigated the ups and downs that a serious illness brings, only this time I am at the other side of it.

The downsides? I’m still working on my spontaneity – I can’t wait to say, ‘yeah, great, it’s 7pm, it’s a beautiful evening, of course I’ll join you’, or, ‘ok, macrame wasn’t quite what I had in mind for an exciting hobby, but, sure, I’ll give it a go.’

Or the usual gremlins – appearing drunk, tripping/falling over, wonky speech, dodgy hands, etc.

Yet for all that, I can’t quite believe how far I’ve come since the Bad Old Days of Deep Sorrow and Wailing. I think I am a kinder, more compassionate person and I appreciate every single positive thing in my life beyond measure.

MS might have laid down a challenge, but I challenged it right back.

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You’re Back In The Room …

RelapseI was in the van with The Boss last Friday, nattering away about my new devotion to chia seeds and almond flour, when, blam, there I was.

I gulped, slightly surprised, then said,

‘I’m back! I’m really … here. Wow.’

The Boss rolled his eyes. ‘You never went away. Believe me.’

‘No, really, I just know, I know, this relapse or whatever it was, it’s just suddenly gone.’

‘What, so can like, do some proper work now? And what the heck are chia seeds anyway? Actually, don’t answer that.’

It’s impossible to describe the sensation a relapse brings with it. Not just the usual problems, the tiredness, the wading through cotton wool soaked in treacle. It’s the disconnection, the sense of otherness. The sensation of being apart from people. It’s lonely.

For two weeks I’ve simply been focused on getting through the days. And this time around, I made sure I was still out and about, no matter how airy-fairy I may have seemed to everyone else. Please excuse my feet, dodgy hands, the slightly glazed expression.

For me, relapses descend quickly. I know the warning signs – the buzzy head, fuzzy brain and wuzzy feelings in my body. And just as quickly, they leave. Although they always leave behind some extra little symptom I never really had before. And the usual suspects remain.

I remember asking an MS nurse all those years ago, ‘but how will I know I’m having a relapse?’

She replied, ‘Oh, you’ll know.’

And she was right. Just like when I asked my midwife how I would know I was in labour. After she stopped laughing, I kind of got the feeling, yup, I’d know. She was right, too.

Anyway, the end of a relapse brings a certain clarity. The fog lifts and I realise just how much I’ve let slide. Which is fine. Life still goes on, despite it all. My mum very kindly disposed of the pigeon my cat wrestled home one morning and has brought me pesto salads and boxes of onion-y things to chomp on when I’m too tired to cook.

The Teenager gets his exam results and turns 16 next week, so the timing couldn’t be better. I tried to arrange a birthday meal with him the other day (having booked the day off work). I got a text back, ‘Can fit you in for brunch, 10.30 to 11.15. Any good?’

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Older. Not Wiser.

older. not wiserI clung on as long as I possibly could.

On my birthday last week, I loudly proclaimed that, actually, actually, I wasn’t technically 41 until 8.04pm, so basked in the fading glow of my 40th year for most of the day.

I had a leisurely morning, a leisurely lunch with my mum and a leisurely evening with a friend. Very leisurely.

Anyway, after blowing out my candle (singular – I’m now too old to merit one per year) and making a desperate wish (nope, not telling), I scribbled a list of everything I would might achieve over the next twelve months, now I was of a Grand Old Age:

  • I will create a Capsule Wardrobe. A classic trench-coat, several well-cut pairs of trousers and a few silk blouses that hang just so. Plus some select pieces of discreet, yet classy jewellery and a couple of well-chosen scarves, which I would learn how to tie in many different ways, like all the French woman do.
  • Likewise, I would ditch the student wardrobe I’ve been cultivating for the last few decades. I would consign my ‘It’s Your Round’ t-shirt to the charity shop pile, along with my Gap hoodie, washed so many times, it’s faded from bright green to vomity-puce.
  • I will begin a proper skincare regime, with different creams for different parts and different times of the day. Day cream, night cream, afternoon cream, eye cream, neck cream, ear cream and hand cream. I would be slathered.
  • I will consider a National Trust membership, which will give me unlimited access to three thousand sites, ensuring a delightful day out every weekend for the next two hundred years. I will not go straight to the gift shop/ye olde cafe; I will instead join a guided tour and follow the held-aloft umbrella with all the other tourists. However, I will still buy a jar of honey/jam from the gift shop before leaving.
  • I will learn how to cook and love risotto. And a proper Sunday lunch, rather than going for a Carvery, along with a twenty-deep queue of other people. Who nick all the roasties before my turn. And steal all the gravy, tsk.
  • I will no longer hide the fact I highlight TV programmes I want to watch in the Radio Times, with my special fluorescent pen.
  • I may invest in a foot-spa. And one of those things that makes your bath ripple like a jacuzzi.

Yup, I have a plan. I already feel older than my years with this pesky MS – the cog fog, the pavement-watching, the dozing off in front of the telly. Should I embrace it?

Thinking about it, maybe I shouldn’t. I’ve just had a letter from the university I’ll be joining in September. A lovely invitation to Fresher’s Week. Really. Should I stay or should I go?

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Just Gimme The Cake (And No-One Gets Hurt)

41 and countingIt’s almost that time of the year again – whisper – hint – one more candle?

Yup, even before I’ve recovered from my 40th birthday (or to put it more starkly, the first year of my fifth decade), my 41st rolls round in less than two weeks.  Wouldn’t you know.

I’m at the very great age now that people start putting fewer candles on my cake, not more, i.e. four rather than forty. Perhaps making up the deficit with an indoor sparkler. Fire hazard? Sparing my feelings? Or just cheapskates?

And not only that, my cute, bonny wee baby turns FIFTEEN a mere week later, the effrontery. He was actually due before my birthday in 1999, but was so lazy he decided to doze off and hang around a bit longer before tidying his ‘room’, a portent of what was to come.

Anyway, with the onset of August, and the inevitable countdown to Christmas (grrr), it’s time for me to gaze at my naval once more. I do a lot of that. It doesn’t get me very far, but at least I’m seen to be trying.

So what do I wish for this birthday? Looking back at all those fruitless wishes of yesteryear (My Little Pony with the lightning strike, Cabbage Patch Doll twins, Fuzzy Felts At The Zoo), I won’t be getting my hopes up.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • I pretty much have all I could possibly want. My joy was complete when I brought my new bread-maker home a few days ago. And my new set of ceramic pans arrived this afternoon. Bliss.
  • I am grateful for all I have. Even when I hold my breath on entering The Teenager’s Lair. I’ve just been up to check – four plates, three forks (should I be worried?), a pyramid of coke cans on his windowsill, a pile of GCSE revision books stuffed into the corner and a pair of swimming trunks on the floor.
  • I have to save all my angst and energy for September, when I start my MA. I am now fully enrolled and fully scaring myself silly.
  • After it threw that curve-ball of vertigo at me a few weeks ago, MS seems to be on half-days for the summer. It won’t last, but I can pretend.
  • It’s raining. Hallay-loo-ya. Goodbye hot weather, heeeeellllllooooooo cool breezes and rain. Lots of it. Uthoff’s, begone.

Before The Official Date, I am chillaxing (ooh, get me), in the knowledge that this month will be Cake Month. Oh, and the next. It’ll be my two year Blogging Anniversary. How did that happen?

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That Was The Decade That Was

happy 40thOn the eve of my foray into my forties, I’m indulging myself by looking back on the last decade.

This time ten years ago, I had no real idea which direction my life was taking. My twenties had been a whirlwind of travelling, angsty, late-night discussions in dark cellar bars, falling in and out of love and The Teenager (The Baby?) who made a late, messy and noisy arrival eight days after I turned 26.

I swapped crisp white shirts and hours spent lingering over black coffee and Gitanes for years of finger-painting, wet wipes and traipsing round the local parks. At 32, after four years of study, I qualified as a homeopath (or psychopath, as The Child proudly told his school teacher and anyone else who would listen). My clinic took off and I adored my work until the recession brought it to a sudden halt. I switched my attention to a degree course in health and social care, laying careful plans for the future.

The years passed. Endless sleepovers, fish fingers, day trips, gold star stickers, football magazines and scooters. Rugby kits and shoes got bigger and dirtier each year, those tiny baby slippers a ‘was he ever that small?’ distant memory. As he got older, I could even have friends over for girlie nights in without the fear of a near-naked child hurtling at top speed down the stairs, entirely decorated in felt-tip pen and a Superman cape. And now he’s suddenly a full-blown Teenager. All six foot of him. I adore him, even when he grunts, raids the fridge and holds his hand out for yet more money.

MS dominated my late thirties, turned everything upside down and we’re still picking our way through the aftermath. Career plans have changed as have priorities. I was unceremoniously sacked from my job, I fought back, I moved on.

MS certainly isn’t the best method for working out what’s important in life, but it’s helped. Everything is more in focus now and I take nothing for granted. So how were my thirties? Probably the decade where life shifted on its axis. The dreams and expectations I had at the start of them are long-gone. In its place is the realisation is that anything is possible. I just need to get out there and make it happen….

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