Tag Archives: masters

Silent But Deadly

sometimes you just have to pick yourself up and carry onMy MS is fairly silent. (ish)

To everyone else, just not to me.

It screams and yells in my face but is deftly hidden within my body, keeping its deviant symptoms tucked safely away, all the while wreaking havoc.

To other people, I could be a malingerer, a fantasist. A bore.

The biggest problem is in the detail; the description – try explaining in plain English what it feels like when an MS lesion hits the speech part of your brain and you can’t string a simple sentence together?

Or when your hands decide to go on strike; it’s no fun pouring a kettle of hot water over your hands instead of the coffee cup.

Then there’s the biggies – fatigue, balance, foot drop, brain fog. All perhaps innocuous to others but they add up to a walking, talking disaster area for me. Put them all in the MS Blender at once and I am a joke.

It’s why I shy away from actual real-life shopping. Too ┬ámuch choice for my brain, likelihood of dropping stuff, tripping over shiny floor tiles, looking drunk, fumbling with change at the check-out. Gah. I am the person my mother warned me about.

What about the nerve pain? The constant jangling, buzzing, painful sensations, as if I’m trapped in some ghastly game of Operation, unable to fish out the funny bone. Over and over again.

MS fatigue divides my day in half – great first thing in the morning, useless when the sun goes down. Foot drop follows me wherever I go and I’ve made friends with my local cobbler – as I hand over yet another pair of flat shoes/boots to be re-soled. And as for brain fog – it’s a plague. As I’m sure I mentioned earlier. And maybe before that?

It all adds up to a pretty depressing picture. And it is.

Or could be.

I’m adapting, however slowly. I’m getting used to the curved-swerve-followed-by-the ‘whoops‘. I write endless notes to myself, to jog my battered memory. I hold the bannister when I walk downstairs and I threw out the dodgy shoes long ago. When I trip, I now do it with grace.

As MS takes a new and unexpected turn, so will I, and force it to do things it’s never had to do before, such as our current Master’s module in ‘New and Experimental Writing’.

That’ll teach it.

Tagged , , ,

It’s A Hard Life, Being a Student…

studentIt truly is.

Especially the evening lectures, when The Teenager cranks up the guilt:

Can you bring me back some sweets?
Nope, there’s carrot sticks in the fridge.
Can you bring me back a drink?
Nope, there’s Council Pop in the tap.
I need help with my homework.
Welsh isn’t one of my languages.
I’m calling Childline.

And with that, he strops off upstairs and turns his music up. When I get back later, he’s slumped on the sofa chucking the carrot sticks at re-runs of Countdown.

Anyway, apart from that, it’s the essays that are my main challenge right now. I had imagined, when signing up for a Masters in Creative Writing, I would be stumbling around in artistically-put-together clothes (garments?), staring at the clouds then scribbling long words and my meaningful impressions of life in a shiny new notebook.

There were two problems with this. First, MS brain has reduced my observations to, ‘the clouds were pink. And white. And a little bit fluffy’. And, ‘the cat ran away. And then came back.’

Second, I hadn’t expected to write essays about writing essays. I had no idea there were so many theories and ‘-isms’ in writing. I am currently staring at a stack of books about ethnography as a research method. Out of the eight books, I have found five quotes, and two of them say pretty much the same thing.

The university library is a scary place, full of very young intelligent-looking people. And it’s very, very quiet. They can hear me scanning and dropping my piles of books a mile away. The machine hates me and the librarians at the desk tut.

I also have to write a portfolio of short stories by the end of December. This is going ok, but I seem to be writing very dark stuff. Ho hum. No idea why. But, as with everything over the last three years, I am nothing if not determined. My putty brain is being stretched to capacity. And I have decided to, gulp, publish the last two years of my blog as a book. At least I can then call myself a writer/author/deluded. I think.

I told The Teenager about my grand literary plans and he stared at me aghast. However, he quickly recovered and suggested ideas for new blog posts I could write about him. I interrupted him and told him the blog wasn’t fiction. He muttered something under his breath in Welsh, swiped the last scone and disappeared.

Tagged , , , , ,

Drowning, Not Waving

DunceOh dearie, dearie me. Oh my.

I started the Masters course in Creative Writing last week. How hard could it possibly be? I love reading. I love writing. Simple?

Er, no. I am a fish out of water. Or prawn. Squid?

It started so well. I made my way to induction, swimming and elbowing against the tide of children headed for the canteen. They were very, very young and I felt very, very old. Mumsy. Grey. Got my ID card. The woman who took my photo said, ‘you can smile you know love, it’s not Crimewatch.’

I grimaced, picked up my card and joined the young folk in the classroom. And I loved it – learning something new. Filled with enthusiasm, the first lecture loomed. Wasn’t too bad, took notes, swotted up. Then a different lecture about research. Without warning, the tutor switched to Swahili and the four hours passed in a blur of ‘why am I here, what am I doing and when will they unmask me and chuck me out?’

Then, the first writing assignment. I knew I could do this. I’ve been writing a form of flash fiction for two years with this blog, each post around 400 words but (hopefully) conveying so much more. I was chuffed with my effort, slaved over it, rewrote it, obsessed about it.

Let’s just say, I Don’t Get It. I am panicking. I wrote a terrible story. I adore my course, I love the research. I just don’t think I have what it takes.

Tagged , , ,