Tag Archives: multiple sclerosis

What’s Five Years Between Friends?

fiveWhen I was a kid, five years was the difference between mittens with a string through both sleeves and a proper pair of gloves to make snowballs with stones in them (I grew up in Scotland, natch).

Or being in Primary School and Secondary, where you got your head flushed down the toilet on a daily basis.

Five years is huge. Massive. Like, really big.

Now, on the cusp of my five year MS-Versary, it feels … weird. I don’t feel that much older or more informed. I still tug those metaphorical mittens, making sure they’re safely attached.

Perhaps with an illness like MS, with so many new medicines and numerous medical trials, we struggle to find out exactly where we fit in the MS Scale, Bad to Worse.

I remember clearly the night before My Diagnosis. It was Make Or Break. I was going to present my neurologist with every last scrap of evidence (carefully assembled in my MS Notebook of ‘Most Notable and Curious Symptoms’). I was fully armed. After ten months of wandering in the wilderness, experiencing relapse after relapse, I was ready.

As it was, that same neurologist peered at my brain on his computer and said, ‘yes, MS’.

I was stunned, hugged my MS nurse for a very long time, clutched the leaflets she gave me, went downstairs and bought a Boots Meal Deal for lunch.

I went home. I cried. A lot.

Now, five years on. I’m much more savvy, sure. I’ve re-adapted a whole lot of things in my life. My main aim upon being diagnosed was to get my son in to University and I’m now mere months away. I’ve almost done it.

However, he’s no longer fooled with my Sofa Command Centre. It scares him when I sleep a lot and I don’t blame him. This last relapse has been a cruel trial at one of the most important junctions of his life.

But I’m still here.

I’m sanguine now, I think. I hope. Life is easier now I have accepted how much more difficult it is. Which sounds strange, I know. Last week, I thought my epic relapse was over and then, blam, I fell asleep twice in one day. First time was on a site visit. I was in the van, which was a bit awkward -the boss woke me up strapping soil pipes to the roof and I thought I was being attacked by vampire snakes.

I’ve taken to working in our new office, which is lovely as I have coffee on tap and I can play music on the Mac. I create colourful charts and add up scary figures for the boss.

Ultimately, this MS-Versary will be understated. Long gone are the days of my Pity Party For One. I don’t rant and rave. I don’t rail against the injustice. I will only put up one banner, and have two or three party poppers.

I will reflect. On what it is to be human. We will all get sick. Just some of us sooner than others, natch?

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You Don’t Matter …

marchThere are 13 million disabled people in the UK, with 89% of them eligible to vote in the upcoming General Election.

13 million.

Have you heard any of the political parties address us and our needs directly during the election campaign?

Have you been overwhelmed with election promises about rolling back the savage cuts and stigma we have faced since the recession began way back in 2008?

Of course you haven’t. We don’t matter. Our purpose is purely as a scapegoat – when the chips are down, blame the people least likely to be able to fight back. It’s cheap but brutally effective. According to the tabloid newspapers, we all drive top-of-the-range free cars, doss around at home, unwilling to work and more than happy to leech off the state.

Yet this election is central to our future and we need to make our voices heard. A few facts:

  • 1 in 5 disabled people struggle to pay for food.
  • 1 in 6 wear a coat indoors as they are unable to afford heating.
  • The number of physically disabled people deemed homeless has increased almost 50% between 2010 and 2016.
  • Motability cars are being removed from disabled people at the rate of 700 a week – or 35,000 a year – due to reassessment from DLA to PIP.
  • 85% of people with MS will be unemployed within 10 years of diagnosis.

If I hear (No Saint) Theresa May appeal once more to ‘ordinary hard-working people’, I will scream. What is ordinary? Normal? What if I’m disabled and still work hard? Well, Theresa, I guess that makes me extraordinary, given the almost insurmountable barriers in my way.

At the last general election, I cornered one of our MP-hopefuls in the street as he was campaigning. I politely asked him what he was going to do about the disabled parking abuses rife in this area. He couldn’t get away quick enough. It’s a non-problem. I challenged someone who had parked, without a blue badge, in a supermarket car park on Monday at around 8am. His reply? ‘Disabled people don’t get up early, what’s your problem? Now **** off’.

It seems we face a battle on two fronts – being ignored by all the main political parties and the increasing hostility by the general public (whipped up to almost hysterical levels by the media, owned by billionaire political party donors).

I despair. Frankly, I’m worried.

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I’m A Finalist …

tubeWho would have thought one little line in a blog post would lead to so much?

That’s what happened when I mentioned in passing that I had been refused a taxi at Carmarthen train station, on my way to a meeting (it was a short fare, I offered a decent trip but he didn’t want to lose his place in the queue – of three taxis …)

My post was actually about The Teenager and whether he (and the cat) would survive me being away for one night.

The media picked up on it and long story short, I won the case against the taxi driver, after enduring a gruelling grilling from the Licensing Committee (the driver denied the altercation ever took place – CCTV proved otherwise). It was uncomfortable to say the least and I asked for him not to be punished unduly (this was Christmas, a prime season for taxis). All I wanted was a little more awareness.

I spoke on the radio, appeared in news articles and was filmed at home during a relapse – hence my stunned, pale face. Not helped by the fact that I was wearing a white blouse.

Anyway, I am now a finalist for the MS Awards, in the Campaigner category, and a big thank you to whoever nominated me. I’m due to go to London on Thursday evening, ready for the ceremony on Friday. However, I’m a little wary as, well, um, I’m big. Huge.

I ordered a bunch of clothes off various outfits and split seams, cried and stamped my foot.

I sent them all back.

I ordered more, and miracle of miracles, one of them actually fits me. The size will remain a closely-guarded secret. And so it is, I will be all in black – slimming, lol – mysterious, and, well, slimming, hopefully.

I met a friend for coffee this morning as I’m working from home, so can spread out the paperwork over the whole day. She bigged me up and told me to sail forth and go for it.

I will try my hardest. In the grand scheme of things (a phrase we say a lot in work), does it really matter? The best part of being there will be meeting everyone else – I’ve been to two other ceremonies (yup, I lost out twice before) and really, the people make it. There are so many inspiring, incredible and utterly gobsmackingly amazing people, it’s just a joy to be in their company.

So with that in mind, I will big myself up (lol), push my shoulders back and, um, sail? Does one sail after reaching a certain size?

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Perception Is Everything …

wombleHaving worked the entire bank holiday weekend, I’m shattered and filled to the brim with bricks/wood/steel beam measurements.

Not the best position with an MS-brain like mine.

During this relapse, The Boss has been picking me up and dropping me off for work as my legs go a bit wonky and my head is somewhere in the clouds.

Lovely. Not only do I save petrol, I also cleverly factor in Gumtree pick-ups, such as yesterday;

‘Um. Boss. Y’know years ago we did that job in that street opposite that car place?’

‘Oh, yeah? That was ages ago?’

‘Yeah, should we drive past? See if they did that thing we mentioned?’

He finally twigs. I come clean.

‘S’was on Gumtree. Same road. Free plant pots. Silly not to really?’

And so it was, I picked up loads of free plant pots  on my way home yesterday. Excellent. I had used my powers of innate perception.

I hate my routine at the moment – work, home, work, home. With a relapse, there’s no space left for anything remotely meaningful.

Except random free offers of plant pots. I spent a happy half hour scooping earth I’d bought two years ago into a free pot. There was a worm in every handful. But I was kind of happy.

Perception. I could look at it one way:

Tragic divorced single parent with an incurable neurological illness, nudging late early 40’s.

Or:

Exuberant, vibrant, independent 43 year old parent of an awesome Teenager, with an abundance of spirit … and MS’.

I mean me; I’m talking about the same person.

And that’s why I’m trying to re-frame my life – if I see myself one way, people react. The other way, people react. So, maybe I should shove all my sad-person preconceptions to one side and big myself up for once;

‘Fat MS womble, taking on the world?’

I’m embracing the F-Word at long last – Campath-Induced Grave’s Disease be damned …

p.s. this post derives from a random conversation with The Boss about the remote possibility of me venturing in to the dating world again …

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The Relapse Silver Lining …

brightI’ve had to think hard and dig deep, but there really is an upside to coming out of an MS relapse.

Bear with …

I’ve looked over my previous blog posts and, wow, I’ve written some fairly depressing stuff, but I guess that’s the point of blogs – honesty and real life, warts and all.

I’m not one for sugar-coating MS, as regular readers will know. There’s highs and there’s lows. Lots of them.

So now I’m emerging from this MS relapse hibernation I mentioned previously, it’s time to move on and concentrate on the positive.

I don’t know about you guys, but coming out of a relapse is like slowly waking up to the world again and all it can offer. Dullness is replaced with bright, blinding colours. Clarity snaps through my mind like a tornado. The impossible becomes ever more possible.

It’s so difficult to explain. For months, life has been lived in a sludgy, treacle-like substance. Putting one foot in front of the other has been the sole aim. Sure, to anyone else, I’m holding it all together. Only I know how disastrously things are collapsing inside.

Fear. That’s the worst symptom of a relapse. Fear of MS progression, fear of treatment failure, fear of the future. And above all, where do I fit in to this world where everything is a battle – parenthood, work, studying, being a capable member of society?

I might feel like I have achieved nothing during the relapse, but in hindsight I have. I’m still taking part in research projects, still attending MS meetings, still contributing my voice. I can do a lot with a laptop, despite the Wifi being a bit wonky when I’m lying down on the sofa.

I stood outside my back door yesterday and looked at the plants I had nurtured since seedlings. Achievement? Absolutely. I heard The Teenager singing in the shower; a confidant, blossoming young person with a bright future. Achievement? Hell, yes. My proudest and most shining example of hope over adversity. We’ve shared an incredible journey through MS together and now it is time he branches off and heads towards his dreams.

I am aspiring to be grateful for everything life throws at me. My first lesson has already happened – The Boss is picking me up at 7.15 tomorrow morning and my job is to write down lots of boring stuff.

No matter what, I will be the epitome of cool and count roof tiles and bits of wood. Just when I thought my life couldn’t get any more exciting …

 

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