The Teenager

MS crashed into our lives in 2011, just as The Teenager was starting High School.

Unusually for MS, it came without warning – just a huge, life-altering Big Bang over the course of a weekend when my entire body collapsed inside, my mind scattered in all directions and my very being imploded; I couldn’t walk, talk or function.

For better or worse, my son was with me, all through the endless search for answers, the waiting, the eventual diagnosis, an employment tribunal, three courses of Alemtuzumab and their brutal after-effects, ongoing treatment and figuring his own way through life.

It was a learning curve for both of us, navigating entirely new scenarios, but we hadn’t envisaged this.

I went downhill, both in health and my mental state. One evening, I took him to a neighbour as I couldn’t cope. That was the day I decided to pick myself up and do something different and fight my corner after over a year of work-place bullying – to deal with a potential court case on top of Alemtuzumab was daunting.

We did it and I took him to Manhattan with the tiny pay-out, eager to show him where I had lived for a couple of years to make up for, well, everything; to show him that I had experienced a life he too could have – the possibility of travel and adventure.

He had missed out on having his mum on the rugby sidelines, the parents evenings when a friend would go in my place, the trips to the seaside I couldn’t take him to, but I was always there to hear his trials and tribulations, even when I was struggling to cut vegetables or clean the house. We managed. I slept as much as I could when he wasn’t there, attuned to his key in the lock, sitting up quickly and hiding the blanket.

He’s been a huge part of my blog, with his consent, and even now as he approaches 21 this week, he’s proud. Proud of all we have achieved together, our little family of 2 – sure, we’ve had our low points and arguments, slamming the fridge, the front door, the usual teenager nightmares. Yet, without him, there would be no blog, no book and I certainly wouldn’t be taking a PhD.

After that low point, I had two choices.

Give in and accept whatever came my way or stand up and fight back. As with so many health scenarios, we fought back. He came to protest marches, meetings, film-making, speaking on camera about his life as a child of someone with MS and many, many other things.

This week, The Teenager turns 21, a real milestone for parents.

I’m incredibly proud of him and how he has grown into a confidant, articulate and compassionate adult. He stepped up to the pandemic, moving back from University in March and taking a job at the biggest hospital in Wales for three months, before moving on to our building sites.

Now he is back in his University town, ready to celebrate his birthday, and I will take time out to think about how lucky I am to have a son like him.

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10 thoughts on “The Teenager

  1. Jennifer Caddick says:

    Huge happy birthday wishes to him! You must be so incredibly proud of him and he of you. Hos strength of character is clearly inherited ! And the resilience he has built into his character will last him the rest of his life.
    My son turned 21 in lockdown in June . Handled his tiny, socially distanced backyard celebration with joy and carried on working as a community support worker. Coped with weeks and weeks of not seeing his ( then 7 months old) daughter. I definitely was nowhere near this mature at 21 !!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Bless him! It’s been so very tough for young people. I remember two weeks of frantic phonecalls from him at uni before shut-down, such a frightening time when the world turned upside down. It has been lovely to have him here and get through it together. I can’t imagine how tough it’s been for your son not seeing his daughter for such a long time, especially at that age. Sending lots of love! X

  2. Mandy Beecher says:

    Happy 21st teenager, you are a credit to your mother.
    I got Ms in 2013 woke up one morning and that was it but diagnoses didn’t come till 5 years later, and now I’m going out on Ill health rather than fight the job anymore

    Good luck to you and your son

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi there, I’m so sorry to hear that. I would have given up the fight if it weren’t for my younger sister, who came with me to meetings and helped immensely. It was a soul-destroying time, coming so soon after the diagnosis. I really hope you’re ok? X

  3. Joan (Devon) says:

    A young man to be proud of. You did a good job despite your difficulties.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you! I’d have been lost without all the help and friendship I’ve had over the years. I feel incredibly fortunate! X

  4. Sue Johnson says:

    Congratulations to your son and congratulations to you too – a proud moment for you both!! πŸŽ‚πŸŽ‰πŸŽˆπŸ₯‚

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Definitely! He’s been through such a lot and despite it all, turned out brilliantly – a huge part of that is down to all the support I’ve had from you guys over the years πŸ™‚ X

  5. Carina MUSS says:

    What a lovely young man he is! You must be very proud of him. Both of you have shown great resilience in the wake of your MS diagnosis and have fought and overcome the many challenges life has dealt you both with.
    Take care and best wishesπŸ˜ŠπŸ™

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you so much! He’s fab πŸ™‚ Hasn’t always been easy but it’s so good to see lots of great things happening now, for both of us. X

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