As if the diagnosis - and reality - of MS is not bad enough, there are plenty of little extras that come with it. As all too many of us know, MS can trigger such joys as Trigeminal Neuralgia, a source of pain that would make many a former fascist dictator green with envy.
It is this very condition that has seen me sidelined for the past couple of weeks and, more relevantly to me, has seen me hospitalised this past week. Such fun...
I was the dubious recipient of a whole new experience and more precisely, the recipient of a six-inch needle through the cheek muscle in search of the trigeminal nerve entry point.
Said nerve is now fried and the only pain remaining is the somewhat natural bruising that the procedure brought with it.
The whole experience - new, I might remind you - was a somewhat surreal event, but it did provide a surprisingly welcome opportunity to do something that I don't seem to have had time for during recent months.
No... I mean time to think.
It occurred to me, for instance, that for all the patching up, bone-setting and occasional stitch in the past, that I had never actually been admitted to hospital for an operation before. Not bad for someone who, I admit, is closer to fifty than forty (fifty-three IS closer to fifty than forty, okay?). And given that the MS has been kicking around for a few years now, that's not too bad either.
The hospital food wasn't Michelin-starred but there again, I've had worse meals prepared for me by friends. The staff all seemed to know what they were doing - and did it with apparent happiness - and the other patients were the thoroughly expected eclectic mix. This wasn't an experience I wish to repeat in a hurry, but there again, it could have been a whole heap worse (and not just the procedure itself).
Time to think has left me feeling much more in need of more time to think. It's all true that we should push onward and use that effort as a means to cope with our condition, but we really should take time to simply think about things. The net effect of MS is quite the opposite of a positive one, but there again it does offer opportunities that we can and should grasp - opportunities that were not apparent to us before the condition took its grip on us.
Perhaps I'm still loosely in the grasp of post-agony relief, but I swear I understand the whole MS thing in far more detail than I ever did before.
I don't mean that there are a wealth of hidden silver linings that I had not seen before, but the new experience of time to think has added a new level of honesty to my understanding of what I am - and we are - going through with MS. And it sounds almost obscenely twee, but I have now been able to see the limitations of what I am going to be able to achieve - if I apply myself - in an MS future.
And those can be very big things - in terms of what I always really did want to achieve in my lifetime.
I have a hundred stories I might like to write - and maybe twenty I really will.
I was never going to be a professional cricketer - I was simply never good enough - and I was never going to be the next Jimi Hendrix - I was simply never good enough. And I could add a dozen or more 'I was never...' items, all followed by 'I was simply never good enough'. But I will be able to write, MS or no MS.
I'm not good enough yet. Not good enough by my own standards. But that's something else that the new experience of time to think has brought me this past week. I won't waste too much time trying to be too perfectly good - because I have stories to tell. And if the odd word is wrong or a phrase lacks the perfection I would ideally like to see... well, so what? I'm me, and no condition like MS or neuralgia, is going to change that fundamental truth.
One day in a year or two I will need that nerve frying again and I'll be ready for it. I won't pretend I'm not already dreading the actuality of the procedure, but I'll say loud and clear I will take that opportunity to revisit this new experience of time to think. And by then I will have shared the first one or two of my stories with you all.
Who knows what else might be different?
'Once upon a thyme...'