Tag Archives: friends

Sore All Over, But Happy

This building lark, eh? It all looks so easy. Long tea breaks, late starts, leaving early and banging a few nails in here and there. Well, I think I landed a job with the strangest builder ever. He does not stop. He does not take tea breaks. He eats lunch on the go. And I had a 7 am (!) start.

My first day on the job and we are renovating an old country pub into a house. All I have to do is knock down a few walls and tidy up. How hard can it be? Well, I flung myself into the task with abandon, hammer moving so quickly it was blurred. Lathe and plaster flew in all directions, dust went everywhere and I filled black bag after black bag with rubble. So far, so good.

The owner was a wonderfully eccentric lady, who for some reason insisted on calling me Alan. For the record, I have shoulder-length blonde hair and do not have a moustache. I managed to bring down most of the wall by just after lunch (a packet of Fridge Raiders eaten on the go), but when I finally stopped for a break, everything – and I mean everything – ached. I was using muscles that haven’t been so much as gently twanged in years.

The upside is that I stood outside at one point and just breathed in the fresh air. It was an amazing feeling to do such physical work, after over a decade in an office. There’s something to be said for being able to pop outside and just be still for a moment and it was good to chat away about something and nothing with my friend – no office politics, just having a laugh.

The downside is the fact that MS never takes a break. Whenever I got too hot, I had to cool down. My feet buzzed incessantly. I started to get electric shocks in my neck. But if I had to weigh it up, I would say that the symptoms were worth it. Ok, every single part of me is sore. I feel like I’ve been run over. But MS can make me feel that way too.

I am working today too, then I’m off for three days. The Teenager has made it safely to London and he didn’t find my Twiglets. Life is looking good.

Tagged , , , ,

Happiness Starts Here…

I had a lovely response from yesterday’s post – thank you to those who took time to comment. This got me thinking about gratitude. My recent work and health situation has taken a lot of my energy and it is all too easy to forget that for 90% of the time, life is just fine.

Like mindfulness, it is about taking pleasure in all things in the present moment and being grateful. It means not dwelling on perceived hurts, slights, comments. They have happened, they are the past. To drag the past into the future is to set yourself up for failure.

So today, I want to give myself a kick up the backside and jot down everything I have to be grateful for:

  • My family – they are incredible and give me an enormous amount of strength and confidence.
  • My friends – who have been so supportive through this difficult time. They are always there for me.
  • The NHS – especially the MS team. I don’t know where I would be without their help, advice and shoulders to cry on.
  • My health – strange to be grateful for this. I have MS, but it could have been worse. Much worse. I still walk, I still have my sight, I am still independent.

These are only the main points. I also have a lovely house, a comfy sofa, a huge stack of books to enjoy and a firm belief that life will get better. My MS is almost under control with medication, bar a few hiccups. The work situation will be history soon enough. The Teenager is growing up to be a darn fine young man. A fantastic friend made me a Shepherd’s pie and cake at the weekend when I was poorly. Seems to me I’m actually very fortunate.

Sure, we all get dark days. I know I do. Days when the situation seems hopeless. And that’s fine too – we’re all entitled to feel sorry for ourselves now and again. But when the bad days start to outweigh the good ones, that’s when you have to act. The famous phrase is that we don’t regret what we have done in life, but what we didn’t do.

This situation will pass. Life will move on. Will it all matter a year from now? I doubt it.

Tagged , , , , ,

In A&E – But Not For Me

Strange to be on the other side of the sick bed. My friend was visiting when he started having terrible stabbing and tingling pains over half his face, along with a pressure headache and a painful eye. Hmm, sounding slightly neurological, no?

After a bit of kerfuffle (‘I’m not sick, me man, we are strong’), I managed to drag/push him through the doors of our local A&E, marched him up to the desk and got him booked in. We got seen pretty quickly, a huge range of tests were carried out, he was prodded and poked and we speedily googled everything they told us. I had great fun pulling the ECG tabs from his chest and when the lunch trolley came round, we shared some corned beef and pickle sandwiches, chatted away and tried to stay calm.

Hospitals are funny places. All human life is here. In the opposite cubicles, a man was lying all on his own, the man next to him was having his arm put back into its socket and there was a tiny lady with whispy hair wandering around talking to everyone about her walking stick and a suit she should have been wearing (no, me neither).

I clearly remember being in the same assessment unit, just over a year ago. I was frightened and in a state of shock. I had booked myself in because I woke up and couldn’t speak properly – mixing up words, unable to find the right word, generally talking more rubbish than usual. All this kind of made me thankful that the whole diagnostic process was now behind me. After a year of tests, knock-backs, uncertainty and fear, yes, I have MS. But at least I know what I am dealing with.

Within a couple of hours, the doctor decided my friend wasn’t having a stroke or suffering from anything seriously neurological, it was an episode of trigeminal neuralgia. Painful but treatable. We collected his prescription and left. It was good to feel useful in an emergency and for it not always to be about me. He is now resting at home. I hope. Knowing him, he’ll be back at work. Oi, if you’re reading this, get back on that sofa and look after yourself – you never know when I might need your help again….

Tagged , ,

MS Buddies

best friends foreverOver the past year, I’ve met a whole bunch of people I would otherwise never have crossed paths with, from all walks of life and all ages. Our common feature is that we all have multiple sclerosis.

As a side effect of this horrible illness, it’s by far the best one. Having the diagnosis gives you a free pass into a whole new world. There’s online forums, local support groups, telephone helplines and charities devoted to fighting on your behalf.

When you first meet a fellow MSer, there’s always a quick exchange of your MS journey, i.e. ‘diagnosed last year, relapsing remitting, taking Tysabri, what about you?’ before chatting away as normal. And when you say you’re tired, they get you right away. The MS fatigue, the bane of my life. I can’t describe it to people who haven’t had it. The closest I get is to liken it to a massive energy switch being switched off internally and it can strike out of the blue. You have to sleep. Now.

So there’s something really refreshing about getting together with other MSers. You belong. You don’t have to explain. You can just have a good old whinge.

I went to the local MS Society Christmas party yesterday. There was a huge buffet and a pub crooner for entertainment. We sang along to ‘Delilah’ and sat in two long rows of tables, a disparate bunch of people. I only knew a few people there, but had a good catch up with them and we kind of understand each other. I might not see them again for a couple of months, but we’ll just pick up from where we left off.

But my friends from BMS (before multiple sclerosis) are equally important. They’re the ones who tell me to stop whinging, shut up and pull me back into normal life again…


Tagged , , , ,

A Friend Comes to the Rescue

The Teenager was away for the weekend and after the week I had just been through, I would have been quite happy to have locked my front door, closed the curtains and set up a standing order with Domino’s.

One of my good friends had different ideas though. He scooped me up on Friday night and delivered me back on Sunday afternoon, rested, all talked out and ready to take on a fresh week. On Friday, he had booked tickets for a live comedy show. We turned up, got settled with wine to break my catatonia and waited for the crowd in the bar to pick up. It didn’t. We checked. There were over a hundred seats in the venue and only 29 tickets sold.

I just couldn’t watch a comedian die on stage, so we decided to go drinking instead. Excellent plan. On Saturday he bundled me into his car and took me back to his place where I lay sprawled on the sofa all evening, watching ‘One Day’ again and putting away chocolate at an alarming rate. Finally, on Sunday, he booked us in to see ‘Skyfall’ in the Gallery at the local Odeon, where we scoffed tortilla chips, Quality Street and popcorn before we even sat down to watch the film. Nothing like a Bond film to put things in perspective.

Friends are great, aren’t they? He listened while I ranted and raved and swore far too much. He calmly put some excellent points forward and gave me an A3 pad so I could write down everything that had happened, in proper, chronological order. So the weekend ended on a high. I kind of know where I am now, compared to the mess I was in on Friday. I don’t feel so alone.

As an added bonus, I don’t have to go to The Office of Doom any more, so I didn’t have that awful Sunday night feeling. Every cloud…


Tagged , , , , ,