Tag Archives: The Teenager

And Exhale …

exhaleAfter The Teenager collapsed in June, we were so lucky for him to be referred to a neurologist, thanks to the advice of one of the fabulous MS nurses.

Within the month, I was sitting with him in my usual MS clinic, him fidgeting on his phone, me controlling my breathing.

I had been there just the day before, for an MS nurse appointment, hoping for the results of my latest MRI scan (nothing yet, gah).

We were called through by a neurologist I hadn’t seen before and he instantly put The Teenager at ease. He took a detailed case history then ran him through an extensive round of tests, a little hampered towards the end by The Teenager’s exceptionally ticklish feet.

The upshot is, there is nothing obvious that would point to MS.

I let out the breath I had been holding.

However, there is something a little odd in his presentation so he is being sent for an MRI of his spine. And that’s fine, I can deal with that. I think. The neurologist explained about blood flow through the spinal cord and blockages. It could be a lot of things, but probably not MS.

What can I say? The relief is immense, for both of us. We just needed to know either way. His collapse was unexpected and shocking.

So now we can concentrate on his summer of exploration, that strange suspended time between A levels and University. Before he heads off on one of his many summer trips though, he has my graduation on Monday to sit through …

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The Ugly Spectre Of MS

noThe Teenager collapsed last week.

As with most teenagers, he had his phone glued to his hand at the time and managed to text me in work:

‘can’t get off the floor, come and help me. I’m scared’.

I couldn’t get there straight away so sent others, who managed to pick him up off the floor.

By the time I arrived home, he was marooned in his bed, in pain and confused.

I took him to the GP and the chiropractor.

The evening before, we had been in A&E with extreme nerve pain. And were referred back to his GP.

Some tests were run.

He has been referred to a neurologist.

He mentioned a few symptoms that made my blood run cold.

He has been working out at the gym. That will be it?

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Kicked The Basket, Stayed Calm …

don't take me homeI worked the whole bank holiday.

I didn’t mind too much; I’d had to stay at home during the height of the sudden heatwave and had ploughed my way through numerous box-sets on telly, fanning myself with one of The Teenager’s discarded school files.

I was hot, bored and bothered. MS heat intolerance is miserable.

Friday was The Teenager’s last official day at school. Ever. I unpinned his timetable from the notice board in the kitchen with a deep, sad sigh. I woke him up for school for the last time, waved him off to his last ever school assembly, with his last ever lunch money in his pocket. He popped back briefly a couple of hours later and I daubed his face with camouflage make-up, hung dog tags around his neck and waved him off again.

He was taking part in the Sixth Form Leaver’s tradition – a pub crawl around the local area, ending up in the city centre. This year’s theme was ‘military’ (last year’s was ‘American Football’). There’s a long road between pubs outside my house and every year I see the endless line of kids walking past, chanting loudly. Perhaps with Manchester in mind, watching the procession of students walk past dressed in various forms of khaki, singing ‘Don’t Take Me Home‘ made me cry.

That was 2pm. I heard him come back home at 3am, rise again at 5am and leave to get the train/bus/tram to Manchester to watch one of his favourite bands at Old Trafford. Plus, he’d remembered to lock the door and let the cat out. Impressive.

Anyway, on my way to work this morning I stopped off at a local shop to pick up some lunch. I was wandering around the aisles, debating microwave lasagna vs. chicken pieces when, wham, I went flying. Foot drop? Nope. Someone had left an empty basket in the aisle, one of those wire ones, so not readily visible. I picked myself up, a little bruised and embarrassed. I heard laughter. I turned round and the woman at the counter was looking at me and … laughing.

Not asking if I was ok, not coming over to help. She stayed behind the counter. Laughing. I kicked the basket. It knocked into a display of sun-cream (Are You Protected?) which wobbled a bit and a few bottles fell off. I kicked them too, the irony of sun cream too much to bear.

I picked up some chicken pieces and went to the counter. She was still laughing. I asked if she was serious. She said, ‘You wha’?’, raised an eyebrow, finished checking her phone and rang through my items with a studious boredom that was actually pretty impressive.

I got to my car. Took several deep breaths. I should have gone back. I could have kicked myself along with the sun-cream.

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Could Someone Rewind This Year Please?

tiredWell.

It’s almost May and it might as well be February, as I’ve been in an MS-imposed hibernation since then. All my Grand Plans for 2017 have come to zilch.

This latest relapse has been tough and it’s taken all my diminished strength to get through it.

As always, life shrinks to the absolute bare minimum. It’s a case of getting through the day. The pain has been crippling, the fatigue all-encompassing.

As I emerge from my MS cocoon, it seems the world has moved on. I’m still wearing my Nordic sweaters and ordering ready-made hearty soups from Tesco. I’m watching dark Swedish dramas on telly and wondering where to introduce dramatic black paint into my house. In short, I’m still in Winter-mode when everyone else has dusted off their shorts and barbecues. S’not fair.

If I had the energy, I’d host a pity-party for one, just like I did way back when I was first diagnosed. It’s been an incredibly long relapse compared to the usual three-weekers.

Anyway, enough whingeing. The Teenager and The Cat have been getting on with their lives in the meantime and handily for them both, I’m pretty much always available to speak to as I loll on my sofa trying to maintain a semblance of normality. I’m a captive audience:

  • The cat enjoyed her course of steroids (it cracks me up that she was on the exact same ones as I’ve taken for relapses in the past) and her fur is growing back. Mind you, her tail looks a bit weird as it’s still fairly bald at the bottom.
  • She’s being bullied by a new cat on the block, resulting in sudden scamperings into the house, nearly giving me a heart attack.
  • Two mice have been left right outside the back door. I stepped on one of them.

As for The Teenager:

  • He pushed his way through the 1000-strong crowd on the Common outside my house to get a selfie with Jeremy Corbyn when he spoke here last Friday. Random, but true. Jeremy looks slightly bemused.
  • He has finally worked out how to use the oven; luckily the house didn’t blow up when he left the gas on overnight after cooking a couple of chicken breasts. But at least he got his protein.
  • I attended an overnight MS Society Council meeting at the weekend and said to him in a misplaced spirit of generosity, ‘why not have a couple of friends round?’ And, ‘feed the cat’. Long story short, ten hulking teenagers were squeezed into my house, my recycling bags are filled to the brim with beer cans and I’m still finding bottle tops down the sofa. The cat is alive.

Hopefully, I’m turning a relapse corner and I can start playing catch-up on the year which is passing me by in a blur of supreme inactivity. Or maybe I should throw the towel in and start writing my Christmas list …

p.s. I know there’s a spelling mistake on the picture – just too tired to correct it …

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Write Of Passage …

signatureWith one signature, that was it. Done.

I had met The Teenager in our local building society after school finished the other day.

At, 17, it was time for him to take control of his savings book, still tucked inside his ‘Children Saver’ folder, complete with a smiling dragon. Previously, he needed both our signatures to access his Christmas and Birthday money, much to his annoyance. And mine, especially when I had to meet him after work to withdraw a fiver for a gaming magazine he absolutely had to have.

We approached the counter, and after much convincing that this 6′ 4” Teenager was in fact 17, we signed the forms, transferred ownership into his name alone and left, leaving behind the smiley dragon folder.

And that was that. I recalled the day we opened the account together – the temper tantrum when he was offered a red dragon money-bank and not the shiny gold one. The negotiations, the store-room rummagings and the crying-hiccups until they found the last gold one. He clasped it in his tiny hands and stopped crying long enough to peer over the counter and rasp a tearful, ‘thank you’.

And there we go – The Teenager now has his own bank account, building society account, National Insurance Number and numerous other bits and bobs. From the Red Book he had as a baby, where percentiles were jotted down and compared with the average, to his GCSE results, he has a trail of paperwork and all the complications that go with it.

I clearly remember my very young son hitching up his dungaree strap and asking me (in nursery!) why his name was so long and why he always ran out of paint when he had to write it across the top of his painting. Simple – Christopher might be his full name, but he could choose what he wanted to be called. He chose Chris (natch) and for a time wanted to be known as ‘Kit’. At that point, he luckily had no idea just how complicated and long his surnames were.

Anyway, today has been a milestone. I’ve started a file for The Teenager, with all his info that I usually file under Family Stuff. It’s a weird separation, but forward-looking. He can take it to University with him, and have everything in one place, until he loses it and I tell him I’ve copied everything, just in case.

So as he inches towards adulthood, I take more and more of a back seat. It’s another stage, successfully navigated. When I was first diagnosed with MS, my only wish was to remain well enough to see him through his teenage years and out into the big wide world.

We’re almost there.

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