Monday, 21 July 2014

A New Perspective

'Oh, it won't change me...', 'It will all be just like before...', 'I'm still the same person...', 'I'm too old and set in my ways now...'

Back in the days when MS was all new to me I must have heard those phrases, or a hundred variants of them, so many times that I can't guess at the number without recourse to cliche. Back in the days, I might even have believed many of them.

Nowadays I find comfort - small comfort, but we take what we can get - in the knowledge that MS has changed me, that things are not just like before, I'm a different person, and I may be old but my ways have altered.

I'm not for one minute suggesting that I have metamorphosed from a scrawny caterpillar into a resplendent butterfly (or even a quite striking moth), but there have been changes above and beyond those necessary as part of the condition. In last week's slightly darker-than-usual commentary I bemoaned the fact that so many of my postings seemed to end up looking at the sunnier side of MS,but perhaps that's not really so surprising. After all, putting it bluntly what is there to take comfort from other than the better things that this horrible condition brings with it?

One of those 'better things' is a new perspective, and more precisely, the ability to look at things from more angles and deeper ways. It's probably just as well, because this week sees me actually looking forward to going into hospital next week for a 'radiofrequency thermocoagulation treatment' (or more prosaicly, to have a bunch of nerves in my face burned to buggery so the trigeminal neuralgia gives me a break for a year or two). Before the MS I would never have contemplated an operation with something approaching a light heart, let along the glee I feel creeping up on me now. If only all things looked as delightful from this new perspective.

I miss, perspective change or not, simple things like running (or even walking with the drugs I currently need to cope with the neuralgia), and I miss taking the dogs out for hikes through the dangerously uneven woods (they must have been designed by the same guy who did the fjords). I wish I dared explore the sandy cliffs with my eldest grandson, where at his age myself I discovered fossilised sharks teeth. At least he is old enough to remember me playing football with him, something denied my other grandchildren now.

I'm a different person in so many ways. I've gotten used to falling over and yet I still look for the non-existent 'thing' that tripped me (be fair, it's hard to look inside your head at the lesions). But of all the hopeful sayings we once heard, maybe once even said, the worst by far is 'it will all be just like before'.

No it won't. This is a new,different world, and sure some things are undoubtedly better (if we allow that new perspective to take wing), but a lot of things aren't. The message we really need is 'Start checking things out in greater depth. And keep checking, just as MS keeps progressing for the SP and PP variant sufferers. Find the new perspective and treasure the benefits it can, and will bring. But keep it real, huh?'

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Fools Rush In

There's a lovely old saying, isn't there? 'Fools rush in where angels fear to tread'. Well I'm not sure about the angels, but I think I am beginning to know a thing or two about the fools.

MS has given me the chance (ok, it's forced me) to be a little more laid-back about life choices. It has made me take time to look at all that is going on around me before I commit myself to a course of action. Certainly in the past, when my lower limbs actually did something approximating to what I wanted them to, I would run freely with the herd.

Well, the debilitating nature of the condition - in my case, at least - saw an end to me being a herd-animal. And an end to running in general, come to that. But then something very odd started to happen to me (odder than bits of limbs going on strike) - I started to adjust my thought patterns.

I can almost hearing you saying 'coo' and 'get him' in a rather theatrical voice, but bear with me. I touched upon it in my last missive but one - that it's good to communicate - but communication is not just a two-way process, it's a multi-tiered two-way process. It's not good enough just to hear the farmer say 'stop or I'll shoot' - you need to assess:

  1. whether you have accidentally stepped onto his land
  2. whether if that's true then he might think it constitutes a risk of endangering his animals/crops/sheep (which could be either, I'm sure)
  3. whether he takes it so seriously he might really shoot 
  4. whether he's not a sodding farmer anyway, but he does have a sodding big gun

Back in the pre-MS days I might have happily run with the herd but I bet I wouldn't have taken the time to work my way through all four of those scenarios. Okay, so I might still hear the trigger with a few words left to go through, but t least I would have been getting there. You never know, with enough practice I might start thinking of option four first.

In any case, it's a positive thought in its own way.

And that, in these more thoughtful days, is beginning to really get my goat (or sheep). I look back on my entries here and time after time they end up with positive thoughts. How can that be, though? I promise you all, fellow sufferers or not, I am sick and tired of the pain and the lack of mobility. I hurt and it hurts me not to be able to go and run it off. Or even sodding walk it off now.

MS need not be all dark and dire thoughts. Mostly I can smile and enjoy the very much darker humour that I share with often-shocked non-sufferers. But that doesn't mean I - or any of us - don't feel the pain and injustice of it all sometimes. And that may even be worse if we take the time to think of that one extra aspect, that one extra choice.

Maybe life does have a sodding big gun.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Good Elvis-Bad Elvis

This week has been a decidedly Bad Elvis week for me.

And by Elvis, I'm referring to Costello, not Presley. There has been a lot more 'Accidents Will Happen' and 'I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down' than there has been 'Good Year For The Roses'. You see, TN - trigeminal neuralgia - has been having a field day.

TN is something a few of us lucky, lucky MSers get to suffer as a side-effect of our condition and we're fortunate enough if it does strike us to really start to understand all about what real pain is. Forget all about the occasional unexpected cramp, a TN attack has been described to me as being around twenty times worse than childbirth, something which I cannot verify personally since I have never been through the delights of childbirth - something I will never experience personally. Not at my age, obviously,

Whether that is a fair comparison or not, I can assure the vast majority of you who will never have experienced that sort of pain, it really is a lot worse than stepping barefoot on an upturned garden rake (which I have experienced - twice), and at it's pain-peak, thought of trips to Switzerland and the offices of Dignitas spring readily to mind. I'm not a stupidly brave person - I would never go willingly to see a boy-band concert - but I am not a recklessly fearless person.

TN, however, scares me witless. And words that rhyme with witless but start with a 'sh' instead.

The condition is one where up to three conjoined nerves in one or other side of the  face decide to fire off randomly with a raw pain-power that could light up a sports stadium. Or a concert by Kylie Minogue. There's nothing that can be done if it strikes - nothing will alleviate the pain - and you just have to wait it out. And the time for waiting it out? Who knows. It might be seconds of excruciating agony, or it might be as long as the aforementioned boy-band concert. With a couple of support acts.

I'm waiting (and waiting and waiting) for an operation that will kill the nerve that is responsible for the attacks, but in the meantime changes to my drug prescription which are designed to move me on to more nerve pain-killers have seen me wobbling far more than usual. And I still haven't got used to them - were it not for a thoughtful boss letting me work from home, I couldn't work at all.

At least I've learned a new skill. I can now trip over fresh air which, let's face it, is not an easy thing to do - whatever Charlie Chaplin used to say.

So, definitely a Bad Elvis week and accidents are happening all over the place.Just remember, if an otherwise normal (ok normal-ish) looking guy trips over a few inches of perfectly normal looking nothing-ness right in front of you, it could be me. If you hear him muttering the lyrics to 'I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down'  it almost certainly is....