Tag Archives: multiple sclerosis

Research Request – Can You Help?

I’ve been approached by Jowinn Chew, a first year PhD student at King’s College London, based at Guy’s Hospital, supervised by Dr Colette Hirsch and Prof Rona Moss-Morris.

Their research is focusing on identifying the cognitive mechanisms which underpin and maintain anxiety surrounding illness uncertainty within MS.

They need you guys to help them out, so it would be great if you could take a little time out to get involved.

Jowinn explains what will be involved in the task:

You will be responding to statements concerning general thinking patterns and mood.

Following this, you will then move onto the main task, where you will read through a series of twelve short descriptions. Afterwards, you will then be presented with several sentences. You will be asked to rate how similar the sentences are to the original scenario.

We expect that the task will take approximately up to 40 minutes to complete.

If you’re interested, click here! And, thank you.

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It Takes A Village …

MS is hard enough on your own body and soul, but witnessing your child coming to terms with it in a parent is heart-wrenching.

Up until he entered High School, me and The Teenager did a whole lot of things together; I was forever picking up leaflets, magazines, nabbing numbers and ideas from flyers.

We fought dinosaurs, made shields in a castle and painted pottery.

I sewed badges on swim bags, then faithfully unpicked and re-sewed them on to new bags. I bought uniforms, day trips and packed the lunches.

I stood at the rugby sidelines weekend after weekend, freezing cold, following him to tournaments miles away, in the rain, without ever mastering the rules of the game. I picked him up after injuries and faced the long journey home, but with a medal or mini-cup clasped in his hands as he fell asleep in the back seat.

I’m so glad I had that time as everything was set to change.

Just as he put on his brand-new High School uniform, MS hit. His once-active parent was more often than not going through relapse after relapse.

We factored in three Alemtuzumab treatments to coincide with his summer holidays – after coming home with no immune system, I had less than two days each time to be back to ‘normal’ after he spent time with his father.

It takes at least a month to recover an immune system.

The Teenager saw a lot and he didn’t like it – the enforced sleep, the early bedtimes of his main parent, when I should have been the one getting him to sleep.

The utter fatigue and lack of immune system floored me. Luckily, kind parents filled in a lot of gaps, taking him to rugby, standing in on Parent’s Evening, inviting him along to sun-drenched trips to the beach.

But I cried; it should have been me. Yet I was so tired, I couldn’t get my head around it. Instead, I tried to ‘stay present’. If I could not move from the sofa, I would at least try to remember everything that was going on.

And now we have The Teenager at University, having the absolute time of his life.

It’s not just thanks to me, it’s thanks to friends and family, everyone who has ever followed him on my blog, or who has met him in real life and chatted with him like old friends, and to everyone who has ever made him feel that he is not alone.

Significant people may be absent from his life, but he knows that he has a whole support network to call upon.

Watching him at an MS filming session last weekend, I was stunned to hear him speak so coherently and poignantly about his experiences and as soon as I can, I will share it with you.

In 2012, all I asked for was to be well enough to see my son off to University. I firmly believe that thanks to everyone here, he made it.

I certainly didn’t do it on my own.

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Judge, Jury and Executioner?

The day I got back home from my hernia operation, I received a letter from the Tribunal Service.

Probably the best ‘dreaded brown envelope’ I’ve ever had.

Without my knowledge, a PIP Appeals Hearing had been held in my absence and to cut a long story short, I won the case. And so ends 11 months of diabolical stress.

This would not have happened without the support of Stuart and Marie Nixon, and my MP, Anna McMorrin.

A reader of my blog put me in touch with Anna and she took up my case, expediting it through the system.

However, I could not obtain crucial evidence from my MS nurse, as the DWP had told them it would be disregarded. I have since found out GP’s and MP’s themselves are also being told that their evidence will be similarly disregarded.

This goes completely against the DWP’s own published guidelines:

From the DWP’s own PIP guidance booklet

Sending in additional supporting evidence

We want to use the widest range of evidence when we assess PIP claims to
ensure awards are made correctly and claimants are paid promptly.
It is very important that claimants provide us with any relevant evidence or
information they already have that explains how their condition affects them.

Information that will help us to assess a PIP claim
Reports about the claimant from:
• specialist nurses
• community psychiatric nurses
• social workers
• occupational therapists
• GPs
• hospital doctors
• physiotherapists
• support worker

Not only that, the DWP has admitted that Capita PIP assessors do not need expertise in medical conditions they assess.

So let me get this straight. We cannot submit medical evidence from those who know us best. And then they send us an assessor who has no real knowledge of our condition.

I call this out as blatant discrimination. It’s a guaranteed no-win situation.

Although my case has been resolved, this does not end here.

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Operation ‘Phyllis’

At last, Phyllis the Painful Hernia will be no more come an operation on Friday.

As if MS wasn’t enough to contend with, this hernia has been making my life utterly miserable.

I had a consultation at hospital two weeks ago; a kindly doctor made me lie on a couch and pushed the hernia all the way back in, before saying, ‘yup, it’s big’.

It’s a large grapefruit strapped to my stomach, a decent-sized Gwalia melon maybe. I’m tired of explaining I’m not pregnant, just fat with a hernia attached.

Anyway, at the end of the consultation I breathlessly asked when he could operate. His sad face told me everything. He explained that although my hernia was an urgent case, hernia operations were not.

Oh, ok. I’m thinking, oh well, I can wait til November. Maybe December? Not a chance. If I was lucky, maybe a year, probably more.

So, long story short, a kindly relative has paid for me to have the operation privately. I have to go for it, to keep working, as I’m struggling. Daily life is a wretched round of clasping the hernia, trying to do simple tasks and grimacing with endless pain.

I’m getting myself organised. They want to keep me in overnight, perhaps two, due to potential MS complications (fatigue probably, lol).

I’ve got some new pyjamas, two sizes up. I’ve ordered some low-carb snacks (always peckish when I’m lying around doing not very much), and I’m sorting through a stack of books to take with me.

There’s a pre-op assessment on Wednesday and I’m wondering how to ask if the surgeon (lovely man) could do a quick stomach lift at the same time. He might as well?

I’ve got ten days off work to recuperate, and I’ve lots of plans: read a whole bunch of study books, work out a timetable of research, catch up on paperwork. Unfortunately though, I’ve become addicted to ’90 Day Fiancé’ on TLC plus all the spin-offs so no doubt I’ll be watching that instead, but the intention is there.

Out of interest, I googled ‘Phyllis’, and in Greek legend a character of this name dies for love and is then transformed into an almond tree.

Spooky. I love almonds.

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Just Go For It …

A small film crew is visiting my even smaller cottage on Sunday, to create a short film of my life with MS.

I had great chats with both the producer and creative director this week, working out the best angles and what to focus on.

Here’s what went through my mind:

Best angles – will there be a make-up artist?

Can I be contoured and strobed to slim my pudgy face down?

Will there be a generous amount of Photoshop in the final editing?

My cottage is dark (yay), almost like being candle-lit. Result. Then I found out they’ll be bringing super-strong lighting. Meh.

Focus – we chatted about my life with MS, what inspires me, what motivates me. Writing seems to be the strong theme – in fact, it seems as if, through my blog, I am writing my way through MS?

All this got me thinking. They will film hours of footage, to be reduced to a few minutes. What do I want to convey? What is important?

For me, the beauty of writing is that I can make mistakes. I can delete, add, rewrite. Perfect for MS; I’m the one in control, even if my dodgy typing fingers have other ideas.

However, I’m understandably anxious as I’m probably the least photogenic person on the entire planet and I have a slight lisp. Plus a Scottish accent. And the pudgy face. Hair up or down? I haven’t been to the hairdresser since January.

Despite all the negatives, I said yes.

What does it matter? I may carry a little more weight (ok, a lot, but I’m working on it). I may have a pudgy face (perhaps they can film me from the nose up?). I may lisp, but that’s me.

Ultimately, I think I have a lot to say, and a lot to talk about. Sure, MS was a wrecking-ball, but we rebuilt and I think this will shine through.

You heard it here first, but we also have The Teenager on record, agreeing to be filmed. He might not wake up until 1pm, but he’ll be there. After all, he is the main focus and the reason I get up every day and carry on.

Do you think they’ll send a catering van?

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