Tag Archives: Boss

The One Where I Have a Non-MS Symptom

cowboyBizarrely, after a couple of weeks struggling through some kind of random MS flare-up where I’ve experienced every symptom I’ve ever had and then some, I am overjoyed to have something not connected to MS for once.

Before MS, I was pretty healthy (apart from being slightly Rubenesque) – never really had colds, coughs or flu, never had ear infections or a sore throat.

Never blagged days off school as a child, something I often recite to The Teenager when he attempts his best ‘sick-face’.

Now, however, I exist in an odd state of constant observation, or ‘MS Watch’ – did my foot drop that teeny bit more than usual? Why am I walking into walls again? Will the vertigo give it a rest? Will I ever be able to eat spaghetti or use chop-sticks in polite company again?

Anyway, I officially have … stenosing tenosynovitis (impressively medical-sounding), otherwise known as trigger finger (not so impressive and it makes me sound like a cowboy). Ok, so not the most glamorous of ailments, but boy, it hurts. I wake up every morning having to unclick one of my fingers from a weird bent position and throughout the day the pain gets progressively worse.

After months of putting up with it, the pesky finger showed no signs of improvement and, as my hands play up already, I took myself and my finger to my GP after having a chat with the nurse when I was having my monthly Alemtuzumab blood test. Trigger finger plus hands that just won’t do what I tell them to is dire.

My GP was, as ever, fabulous. I explained my frustrations, held out the guilty finger and felt a bit silly. She’s referring me to the trigger finger expert, so fingers crossed (minus the dodgy one) it should be sorted.

As an uncanny aside, I know MS is not contagious (of course), but is it possible for people to experience ‘Sympathy MS’? My long-suffering friend and boss appears to be exhibiting more MS symptoms than me at the moment. He trips over everything, he knocks his coffee over, drops his Jaffa Cakes and generally makes an MS-pest of himself.

Today, he dropped his pasty on the newly-installed radiator in the conversion we’re doing. When I stopped laughing (it took a while), he said, ‘bit strange, but I’ve got this weird pain in my finger, like it gets bent and hurts to unclick it’.

‘Oh, really?’

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My Parallel Life

smileI often wonder what my parallel life would be like.

We’ve all been there; the dangerous fork in the road at diagnosis.

On the one hand, there is the weight of societal pressure – MS is ‘other’, it’s incurable and  it’s quite often progressive.

On the other hand, there is the relentless, miserable push to fight back, beat it, win the battle that always weighs heavily on our minds.

What should we do?

Conform to that first pressure?

In my case, if I’d done just that, I would have meekly accepted the year-long systematic bullying in work. I could have said, ‘thank you’ when they sacked me for having MS. Of course. I would quite possibly have taken their sage advice, ‘but surely you can live on benefits now?’ ‘We simply can’t have you here, you’re a liability, don’t you understand that?’

Fair play to them, after a meticulously well-planned and devilishly malicious campaign (by three grown adults, I mean, really?), I took my P45 and left. And quickly slid into a black pit of utter despair.

Conversely however (fair play to them) they handed me back a reason for picking myself up. I discovered I still had a single shred of dignity and decided to fight back.

Fast-forward from that awful day in October 2012, I am living a life I love. I took my employer to court and won. Not much, but just enough to take The Teenager to New York to show him where I lived when I was 19. Bizarrely, as part of their settlement, they didn’t ask for non-disclosure. Perhaps they knew I would never sink to their level and to this day, I have never publicly named their company.

Instead, I chose a different life. I kicked back against everything I was expected to be – grateful, humble, diminished. I decided to draw up mind-maps of what I wanted to achieve, despite it all. Funnily enough, I did the same when I was 17 – travel, learn languages, have kids and work out how to wear a beret with panache. I failed the last one. Badly.

So now, at the grand old age of 41 (but apparently I look six months younger), divorced, single mother and living with MS, I take absolute pride in how far I have come. In my ex-boss-led parallel life, I would be scratching around for crumbs of comfort, falling helplessly into a routine of abject nothingness.

It may not be the life I envisaged for myself (those grand plans of hosting literary ‘salons’ in a plush, velvet room in Paris, learning how to make the perfect Martini, doing something – but it’s better than the alternative).

I am not fighting back. I’m not in a war with MS. I am just deciding that what I do now should mean something.

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A Sad, Wan Little Face…

man fluThe Teenager has been poorly.

To make sure he wasn’t blagging, I immediately ran the Playstation Test – waving the controller in front of him to check for a response. Nothing.

Just to make absolutely certain, I resorted to the Nutella Test, offering to fetch him some toast slathered in the stuff. Not a flicker.

Oh. It was probably serious.

The Teenager is rarely ill, so when he is, he seems to display a dazzling array of symptoms, as if he’s been saving them up for a special occasion. Luckily he made it to the loo in time (and time again), the Bloo was changed and I sloshed a bottle of bleach around (in the toilet, not on The Teenager).

He lay in bed, tossing and turning. I then heard through the rugby-grapevine that a load of kids had been felled by the same bug. All Sunday and into Monday I was the butler/nursemaid. I fetched this, I carried that, I soothed and reassured. I had to work part of Monday so my mum took over, dashing down to my house with sandwiches and treats plus the ubiquitous biscuits for the cat (she’s not daft, she hears my mum coming a mile off).

She called me in work – ‘Well, he’s had half a sandwich, a wee bit of lettuce and some Smarties and the cat’s had all her biccies. Oh and I found that dead bird she left outside and put it in your recycling bin, dear. It was a robin, poor thing.’

By Monday evening, he was returning to normal, managing a short Skype call with his friend – ‘yeah, it was mega – all over the bathroom, you should have seen it.’ By Tuesday, he was wolfing down a pie, asked for chocolate and watched a football match on telly. All back to normal. A sigh of relief.

He was packed off to school this morning, totally recovered and no doubt with a stronger immune system but without his chemistry homework completed. All was right with the world again.

I got to work. Gah. The boss turns up clutching a medical cupboard full of cough/indigestion/headache/throat tablets. He’s unable to eat his usual morning pastry and orders an immune-boosting smoothie at our coffee-house catch up meeting instead of his usual caramel macchiato. Here we go again.

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The Trouble With Men…..

Peppa PigI love working with men.

The way they just point and snigger when I trip over and then shout out, ‘yeah, mind the step love, eh?’

And when they ask ‘is the leccy off? Can’t see the kettle on?’

I love that they can talk animatedly about cars for hours. Or motorbikes. Or the quickest way from A to B (very, very heated arguments).

What I’m not so enamoured with is their total disregard for their health:

‘Boss, what’s wrong?’

‘Oh nothing. Just that neuralgia on my face back again. And I’m soooooo tired. Do you want that last piece of chocolate twist?’

‘Really??? Have you been to the doctor?’

‘Ha! Like, no. Mind you, I’m totally spaced out on the painkillers. Neurofen are the best. Nice.’


(I then gear up for full-on nagging mode) ‘You do know, don’t you, you’re 8 years off 50. 50!!! You can’t take these things for granted….’

‘Yeah, yeah, whatever. Are you having that last bit or not?’

I love my boss. Not in that way. We’ve known each other for almost a decade. We get on brilliantly. But I worry about him. I’m probably healthier than he is. He said to me this morning. ‘it’s bonkers, it’s as if I just have to get home, have to lie down, and nothing else matters but lying down on the sofa.’. Um, yeah, I’m with you on that one.

So what should I do? I’ve already been with him to hospital the last time he had the nerve pain. This time round, his eye is shutting and he can’t open it properly. He looks worn out. I’ve emailed him the NHS guidelines about neuralgia. When I left him at work today, he was exhausted, turning on the cement mixer to finish the brick-work.

My lovely twitter friend has started a hashtag, #Boss2Dr – if he listens, I will buy him a Peppa Pig Easter egg (don’t laugh, he adores that pig).

As for me, I’m back in work tomorrow…

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