A Leek, A Thistle and A Diagnosis

flagsThis year we’re toasting the 25th anniversary of our family’s move from Scotland to Wales. Sláinte, Iechyd Da and cheers!

In the summer of 1988, with Bros and Glen Medeiros  riding high in the charts, I played The Proclaimers endlessly on my tape recorder, gulping back tears as I listened to repeated renditions of ‘Letter From America’ whilst  unpacking my boxes.

My Welsh friends now tease me that after all these years, surely I’m more Welsh than Scottish, especially as I now get a lump in my throat when I hear the Welsh national anthem? This got me thinking. Does it really matter if I feel more Welsh than Scottish or vice versa? It’s a bit like MS. Once you’re labelled with it, does it then define who you are?

When I was a pretentious 20-something gadding around Europe, if someone asked me where I was from, I would loftily declare that I was a Citizen of the World. Cringe. I mean, really?

But there’s something in that – I think what it boils down to is a sense of belonging, not labels. When I started my Welsh secondary, once the initial curiosity about me had died down (‘do you have electricity in Scotland?’, ‘why do you sound like an extra from Taggart?’), I found my own place in a group of like-minded people, drawn together by our shared passion for The Cure, Kraftwerk and Doc Martin boots. The nationality label didn’t come in to it.

It’s the same with MS. I’ve lost count of the number of people who say to me, ‘Oh, I know someone with MS, I’ll get you guys together’. Um no, it’s ok thanks. We may be just like any other group of people bound together by a common background, but we all find our own place within that group. Some you get on with, some you don’t.

Like any group though, it has it’s own language. When people with MS get together, they tend to get the basics out the way, i.e. RRMS, diagnosed x years ago, on x treatment. Similarly, when we first moved here, we quickly learned that sannies were called daps, rolls were baps and the Welsh word for carrot is ‘moron’.

What am I trying to say? Just that I may have MS, but I’m much, much more than that label. A Citizen of the World, if you like….

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20 thoughts on “A Leek, A Thistle and A Diagnosis

  1. Jenny Best says:

    Once again….brilliant. You are SO going to win that award for best blogger.
    I feel much the same …. being an English person that moved to Scotland 25 years ago. To begin with I had my accent mocked and thought of as ‘posh’ but people soon accepted me for myself and, as you say, we are drawn together because we are drawn to certain people.
    I have, though, been introduced to a couple of people just because they have MS….on both occasions nice relationships have evolved. Perhaps this is cos I was only introduced to them because they seemed like minded AND had MS. Anyway, I do like having friends with whom I can openly talk about MS. I don’t ever want to be a moaner to my friends and husband so an occasional moan with a fellow MSers helps!!
    Best wishes to you Scottish/Welsh lady from me the English/Scottish lady xx

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Aw, that’s lovely, thank you!
      Our paths may have crossed 25 years ago, lol.
      I’ve also met some fab friends with MS – big shout out to Eiona and Babs! But yup, I think you have to have MS and have things in common apart from that.
      Funnily enough, when I go back to Glasgow, I get teased for my ‘posh’ accent and when I’m here, I get people doing Russ Abbott impressions. Can’t win!
      I’d love to win the award, but am up against some serious and fabulous competition. Just being at the ceremony will be enough! Me and The Teenager at the Dorchester, lol. Will they let us in??

  2. Kerri says:

    I’m an American who has some heritage from Wales. Spent an afternoon there once years ago – lovely memory. I think the best support person for a person with MS is not another person with MS. There can be such a thing as too much information at times and newly diagnosed don’t always like seeing their potential future. That’s just been my experience. Healthy people do like clumping us together though, like it’s a hobby we have.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Loved your comment about it being a hobby!! Very true. I have friends with MS and friends without MS and I love both equally. And both give me support in different ways.
      Wales is a fabulous country and Cardiff is a lovely city to bring up a kid in. Mountains to one side, the sea at the other. Bliss.

      • Kerri says:

        We were in Anglesey, and spent most of the time at a charming old cemetery finding ancestors; although we did make our way to some stores and came home with love spoons 🙂

        • stumbling in flats says:

          Anglesey is supposed to be beautiful – always wanted to visit. Love spoons are adorable. Still waiting for someone to give me one though!

  3. 7 years in Scotland, and I think no matter how long I will be here, I will always be “the Canadian”. Too many mannerisms and 25 years living there for things to really change. i don’t have a problem with that, I like being Canadian,…well I could do without the jabs at my accent, (which I dont think i have :p)…yeah I say bag and garage differently, deal with it :p
    People say they know a person from Canada I should meet, great, but I’m with you. you need more in common then origin or disease to actually get a long with that person. now if i could meet another youngish Canadian with MS, that might work :p

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Jennifer,
      I used to get that all the time when I lived in American, ‘oh you must know Mrs Bloggs’. Um, well there’s five million people in Scotland, so probably not.
      Nothing wrong with being Canadian. Wasn’t that tv programme Degrassi Junior High set there? One of my fondest childhood memories. Sigh. Could be wrong though and no offence intended if it’s not Canadian!!

      • the show was made in canada 🙂 i dont actually know if it was said where the high school was. but i think degrssi is a name of a street in Toronto
        i remember watching that show in school when the teacher didnt have a lesson planed :p

        • stumbling in flats says:

          I LOVED that show. Always made me want to live there, lol. When I was in school, we watched cartoons when the teacher had nothing planned!

  4. Jenny says:

    Another great blog!
    I agree with Kerri – I’ve been diagnosed a year and since diagnosis I’ve never (knowingly) met another person with ms, in fact I don’t even bother telling many people, I got fed up with the whole “oh yes, I know someone with ms…..” My close friends and work mates know but to be honest whilst I’m doing ok we tend to forget about it. They’re very good at looking out for me though and often tell me to sit down or slow down! That’s why I like dipping in to your blogs occasionally, it’s my way of “connecting” with another part of my life and knowing there are others with similar “quirks” (or dodgy wiring as my husband likes to call it!).
    As for accents – I’m a Lutonian who’s been living in Dorset for 20 years so my voice can be anywhere between Lorraine Chase (remember her?) and country bumpkin depending who I’m talking to!

  5. Sally says:

    My 84 year old English dad has now lived in Scotland for more than 50 years and takes the hump if you suggest he is now more Scottish than English.

  6. Sally says:

    Again the blog cut off the rest of my message.

  7. Sally says:

    It’s cut it off again after one line. Aaa argh I give up. I am not typing 5 lines again, for 3rd time just for the first line to appear. Obviously doesn’t like me today.

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