Tag Archives: The Teenager

Going Round In Circles

circles When I’m experiencing them, I’m never quite sure if a sudden surge in MS symptoms is a relapse or not.

I only get the definitive answer when I wake up one morning (days, weeks, months after) and I just know it’s over – it’s kind of a retrospective thing.

Today, hallelujah, is one of those days. The murky fog has cleared, my energy is restored to its usual low level and the world seems a much brighter place. I look back over the last couple of weeks and realise just how awful things were.

To begin with, I ignored the numbness down my right side, the dodgy tingling hand, the weak arm. Then came the beyond-out-of-proportion tiredness and jelly-brain. As is usual with a relapse, my world shrank. I did the bare minimum and I did it badly. Work was a nightmare (Boss not happy) and when I got home I slept (Teenager not happy), woke up and barely moved from my sofa.

After that came the symptom that left me stunned – my body seemed to want to pull to the right, so walking in a straight line was a bit tricky. I ended up turning right an awful lot, so much so that I might as well have been walking in circles. I slammed into walls, fell with a thud into my washing machine and tripped down five stairs, ending up lying dazed on the floor, squished between the bottom stair and my bureau, finding a long-lost catnip ball in the process.

The most worrying episode was when I was in the shower the other day. Again, my body wanted to jerk to the right. Unfortunately this meant I fell out of the shower and cracked my head against the toilet. As I was lying there, I was ever so grateful I hadn’t knocked myself out as the thought of paramedics finding me naked on the floor, crying and trying to cover up with a single flannel was unbearable.

After counting the cobwebs on the ceiling and noting the gaps in the silicone seal around the shower screen, I staggered to my feet, put my dressing gown on and sulked on the sofa for the rest of the day. Again.

So it’s over, for now; I’m back to the baseline, which seems to rise with every relapse. Whereas before I fretted about every tiny symptom, diligently jotting them down in my ‘MS Symptom’ book (one from 2013 – ‘my nose seems to itch more and swallowing is a bit of an issue’), I now have a much more ‘yeah, yeah’ attitude. It’s about accepting it and living day to day.

I can say that now. If you’d asked me last week however, I’d have given you a withering look and sighed.

Progress?

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Letting Go Of The Reins …

mumWhen The Teenager was a toddler, I had one of those Maclaren buggies.

Lightweight and foldable, it was easy to navigate.

Especially for The Toddler, who quickly learned how to propel himself forwards with a sudden thrust, hoist the pram onto his back and toddle away as fast as his little legs could carry him.

We moved on to reins. He ran rings around me, literally, and they were quickly discarded. I was left to dash in all directions, grasping hold of a chubby wrist before he could come to harm or raid a nearby fruit and veg stall.

Now he is approaching 18, I am going through an accelerated crash-course in letting go of the bonded reins. I have taught myself not to grab his hand when we are crossing the road, remind him to brush his teeth or check he has his house-key.

Which is a shame for my spare-key-holder as The Teenager discovered one evening. Having left his key at home and unable to rouse me by fishing an array of plastic bottles from our recycling bags and chucking them at my window – I sleep spectacularly soundly – he called my friend who cursed the entire 40 mile round trip to let The Teenager into our house at 11pm.

This week, The Teenager went to a concert in Bristol, technically a whole other country away. I asked if he had the tickets for him and his friends. I queried his departure time. Asked if he had bus fare. Did he need a snack for the journey? A blankie? A teddy?

I joke, but when The Teenager sat me down for a gentle word, I listened. He is effectively a grown-up, although the youngest in his school year (I don’t hear the end of this – why he couldn’t have been born a couple of days later – to make him the oldest – or a few months earlier).

I explained to him that after almost 18 years of caring for someone, ensuring their very survival (a bit of drama – tick), it would inevitably be difficult to surrender the care role as quickly as he was assuming independence.

We bantered back and forwards, working out new ways of talking to each other. He agreed not to laugh at my new glasses (for reading only, not because I’m old – or maybe a tiny bit old) and I agreed to relax about his movements. I realised I didn’t need to know everything any more. I wasn’t arranging play dates, he was arranging days/evenings out for him and his mates. He could handle it. And so could I.

It’s a joy to witness a child you have nurtured blossom into adulthood and I’m in awe of The Teenager’s drive, passions and go-getting attitude. Despite everything we have been through these last few years, he is turning into an incredible person (I am of course biased).

His teddy (it’s actually a yellow duck, called ‘Ducky’) is now safely tucked away, his job done.

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Bored Now …

palletsThere’s a dissertation-sized hole in my life.

After an initial frenetic and unseemly hedonistic flurry of trash telly, food, books and gossip magazines, I’m very, very bored and can’t face another jumbo-bag of Bombay Mix.

It’s time to Take Up A Hobby, especially as I will also become an Empty-Nester this year.

I want to reassure The Teenager that I have a fulfilling hobby/social life and won’t be eaten by a pack of wild dogs, at home alone, surrounded by piles of old newspapers and junk mail while he’s away at Uni.

I have many options, some more promising than others. Inspired by The Great British Pottery Throw Down on telly, I investigated clay. Sadly, I don’t have an outhouse where I can build a kiln or a pottery wheel. Undeterred, I looked into air-drying clay, but you can’t really do that much with it beyond napkin rings and small plant pots, so another idea came to a dead-end.

I looked into jewellery-making and bought a magazine all about it. I know how to use pliers and a blowtorch, a pretty good start. I just don’t know how I’d cope with fiddly beads and delicate bits what with my dodgy MS hands. So that was that.

I gave up knitting just after my diagnosis and I gifted my guitar a couple of weeks ago. My sewing machine was donated to a friend years back and crochet confuses me. However, I can make mini ghosts from toilet paper, a bit of thread and a black Sharpie but that’s seasonal.

Upcycling pallets was my next great idea. I see a lot of pallets in my line of work. What if I were to take one apart and put it back together to make seedling racks, coffee tables or outdoor sofas? After having a look on Pinterest, I realised it had already been done to death. The other thing I see a lot of at work are sewer pipes but I can’t see anyone wanting to buy a table made from the stuff, even with the ewwwww/exclusivity factor.

So I’m back to what I know a teeny-tiny bit about – writing. I shall write. I will suffer for my art, drink black coffee and pace the length of my house, anguished and deep in thought. I will produce the Next Great British/Brexit/Scottish novel.

I do have an idea in mind. It’s gathering pace and I think it could just work. So I’m going to put up all my failed-hobby bits and pieces on Gumtree and invest in some hand-ground extra-strong coffee. I’ll tell The Teenager I’ve taken up ballroom dancing, but between you and me, I’ll be writing. Watch this space …

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Goodbye, I’ll Miss You

mastersLast week, after two years hard graft, I handed in my dissertation.

As I pressed the ‘send’ button, I expected to be flooded with euphoria.

I envisaged cracking open the Champers, unwrapping a bar of Dairy Milk and viewing my cleared desk with bliss.

Reader, I cried.

I felt bereft. I couldn’t bear to leave my desk. My books were neatly back in their shelves, mounds of paper shredded or filed. I had a fresh page on my notepad. The scribbled ramblings I had wasabi-taped to my walls were in the recycling bin,.

All evening I wandered around the house, sadly picking up my stapler, stroking it and putting it back in its place. I opened a book about critical thinking skills for old times sake. I rearranged my Sharpie pens in their pot, light colours to the front.

What was going on?

The Masters has been a cruel mistress, luring me in then kicking me in the guts, leaving me anxiety-ridden and confused. At other times, I would be in seventh heaven when I manged to string a couple of sentences together that actually made sense. Many a conversation with The Teenager would be interrupted with me suddenly saying, ‘hang on, an absolutely genius point has just popped into my head, gimme a bit of paper.’

I struggled to write academically, my sentences more often than not beginning with, ‘I think my work is good and getting better’. Whole days, weeks would go by when I wrote nothing and every time I walked past the papers on my desk, I would sigh.

In the week since I pressed that button, I’m lost. I’m binge-watching trashy shows, reading trashy novels and eating trashy comfort food. I feel weird. I don’t miss the anxiety and I do feel chuffed I finished it. I just … miss it. I guess it’s because I nurtured it from nothing into something I’m proud of, despite the lack of long words and sentences.

The Teenager, my eternal sage, put it bluntly yesterday: ‘Are you sure you wanna do a PhD? Not sure I can handle it. Did you get the chicken nuggets in yesterday? I’m starving.’

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Food For Thought

chickenMe and The Teenager try to go out for a meal every couple of weeks.

It’s a chance to catch up, do some mom-and-son bonding and generally put the world to rights.

So yesterday, armed with a 40% off voucher, we headed to our local Harvester.

Not the most glamorous of locations but it suited The Teenager down to the ground, given he’s on a training programme for which he wolfs down 5,000 calories a day (he has an app, he counts them).

I probably eat the same amount, minus the high intensity exercise, but at least we have something in common.

Anyway, we settled down in a booth and read over the wipe-clean menu. I checked out the low-calorie options, dismissing them quickly. A burger. With fries and a huge dollop of mayo. Sorted.

I asked The Teenager what he fancied.

He looked up from the menu, snapped it shut and yelled,

‘Chicken! A whole chicken!’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah. And some ribs as a side. Just the little ones. I’m not, like, greedy. Check out my pecs mum!’

He flexed his muscles for me to admire, tapped his stats into his apps and wandered off to the salad bar, bringing back five rolls. He ate them and went back for five more.

I played with my diced beetroot and grated carrots.

Our meals arrived and he duly took a photo and uploaded it to social media before tucking in.

‘So’, I began, ‘how’s the studying going?’

‘Can’t talk. Eating.’

‘Ah. Chicken looks nice dear.’

Within five minutes, there was a plate of bones in front of him. He scooted off to refill his free refill glass for the fourth time.

‘So. How’s the studying going?’

‘Good, ta.’

‘I was thinking about trying that fasting diet. You know, to shift the pounds. What do you think? You’re the weight-loss expert.’

‘Mum. No. No way.’

‘Why not?’

‘Ok, so you take in 500 calories. You’ve got no energy. But ….’ He paused. ‘Like, d’uh, you have MS? Bit stupid, no?’

‘Ah, I see. Good point.’

‘Mum, you know when I’m a millionaire and I buy you a house, or a big shed, and I go round the world and stuff?’

‘Erm, yup?’

‘Well, I’ve worked out how to do it.’

Silicon Valley? Inventor? Rugby player?’

‘I’m going to become a … competitive eater.’

‘Right.’

‘You know, there’s loads of people on YouTube. They make a fortune. Did you see how fast I ate that chicken? Did you?’

‘Well, yes?’

‘Google it. There’s a restaurant near us. Going to start there.’

I googled it. There’s just one problem.

‘It says here you’ve got to eat everything, everything, including all the lettuce, tomato and onions. Lol.’

‘Mum, don’t say lol.’

‘You don’t eat salad? Bae.’

‘Mum, don’t say bae. Or peng or dench.’

‘Just saying. Groovy.’

‘Mum, I feel a bit ill. I need to get home before my stomach explodes.’

We left. He groaned in the car all the way home.

Until next time …

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