Spring of 2002 was a pivotal time in my life. It was when I discovered the cause of the symptoms that had been bothering me, to sometimes greater degrees but sometimes lesser, for a while.
It was the time that a consultant neurologist told me that my problems were all due to me having Multiple Sclerosis but a very mild form that he then described as ‘benign’.
He explained that he had gone back over my medical records and found evidence that I had had MS since my early 20s. In 2002 I was 49, turning 50 in November. He said that as it had taken more than 25 years to reach the stage it had become, he had no reason to believe it would develop any more quickly in the future.
Having thanked the doctor, I walked out of his consulting room to be met by my then wife Jill (Lisa and I would not meet for another 7½ years). I had not let Jill come in to hear the diagnosis and now she wanted to know.
When I could not get her to wait until we got outside, I told her. She was relieved as she then, and only then, confessed she had feared it was a brain tumour.
I was relieved too, being glad to at last know the truth. It was also obvious that there was much that needed to be learnt about Multiple Sclerosis.
So, it was back to work in my newspaper office.
Owing to structural changes within the company, my position there was being relocated some 20+ miles away and, although offered the opportunity to transfer there, I took the decision to leave the newspaper and join a local tourist attraction as a senior manager. The role there developed over my five summer seasons there to include PR, personnel & training, administration including finances, plus responsibility for all retail and catering.
By the end of the fifth tourist season, by now November 2006, my MS had developed and I was having more difficulty in getting around the 17 acre site. I mostly used a stick to help my walking; it was really too much and that led to my leaving the company. That was my last full-time job.
Life has been busy, indeed hectic, since then with so much happening. It started with meeting Lisa in an online game, falling in love, getting divorced from Jill, marrying Lisa and becoming secretary for three local voluntary organisations. One of which, MS Synergy, has asked me to continue in office even though I will be living in Spain from the middle of November.
My MS is having a greater effect than it used to. Today I find it impossible to walk any further than 10 to 15 yards without stopping to rest, often needing to sit down. Similarly, I cannot stand for more than a couple of minutes. That is why we now have a wheelchair to enable me to get about. I am not wheelchair bound, it is only used when I need it. At home I get around by using furniture to give me support.
Despite these and other related difficulties, such as chronic fatigue that can knock you out for most of a day, I have a bright outlook on life. Please take a look at the ‘can do’ attitude to life page for more about that.
Then, there is this blog where my years of journalist experience, including writing of leaders or opinion columns, has come to the fore. Writing is something that I love, something I can do and, as such, is good therapy for me.
As said elsewhere, MS does not define me nor will it be allowed to control my life.