Tag Archives: MS

Feeling the fear and having MS anyway….

I’ve been hiding, reluctant to write because I know what it will bring……it will mean talking about what has been happening to me lately and that in turn means that I must accept yet again that I have a chronic, as yet incurable, illness. I have Multiple Sclerosis and for the most part, despite being diagnosed nearly 14 years ago, I am very well. In fact the odd up and down notwithstanding I have escaped anything really life affecting for 7 years so I am indeed blessed. I don’t see a neurologist and I am not taking anything or doing anything different from the majority of you reading this. I am just trying to live my life as normally as possible. Maybe I am in denial, maybe I haven’t really dealt with it at all but that leads to the question of how exactly do you do that?

How exactly do you come to terms with the diagnosis of a physical and potentially mentally disabling condition when you are only 27? How do you then go on to deal with it every day for the rest of your life? How do you cope when everything that you thought you were and would be has irrevocably altered beyond all recognition and your control? How do you live every day knowing that you might wake up the next not able to walk, dress yourself, go to the toilet on your own, pick up your children – even feel them cuddling you, drive, swallow…….the list goes on.

I think my answer has to be that I don’t really know. I don’t have a magic solution to this other than to just keep going. I remember being terribly afraid to plan anything at all – holidays, nights out, even playdates for my children too far into the future because I could never assume that I would be well. I was almost paralysed by it. Now sometimes I find myself drifting too far in the other direction, feeling a sense of desperate urgency to cram everything into the present whilst I am well…just in case. This, I know, puts huge pressure on my marriage as my poor long suffering husband tries to juggle our finances to accommodate my intermittent panic attacks about my health as I want to book holidays and trips for the family. It’s hard to calm down sometimes when I feel my body betraying me and I wish for the life that I always thought I would have.

These moments are less frequent though as I have begun to realise over the years that we all face our own mortality every day in some way or another. We all get ill in some way or another too and we are all unpredictable as is life. Strangely you know I really rather like that. It does give a sense of freedom somehow as you never know what is around the corner.

So, I try to just keep going. I do the things that I want to even though I know at times they might get interrupted by my health although in truth who can’t say that? As I said earlier – we all get ill. I try very hard not to get too frustrated whilst I am having an attack and try to use that time to regroup, to do things that I might not otherwise do like reading a lot (uninterrupted) and watching films that I have longed to see but haven’t quite previously found the time to.

Most importantly I want to be there for my children and my husband – emotionally if I can’t be physically – whilst really trying not to become too self absorbed and spiralling down into my own special pity party. My friends help me with that too, they don’t let me feel too sorry for myself and they check in with me now and then to make sure that I haven’t forgotten that I am still part of their world and for that I am truly grateful as MS can feel very very lonely.

I have at times felt very lonely indeed through no fault of any of those people in my life that I love but because I shut myself away when I get ill. I get scared that no-one will really want to be around me when I am not the ‘normal’ Anna that they are used to. The one that goes running, makes them laugh at Bootcamp, goes out for lunches with them and so on. I get scared that they won’t want to see the me that is frightened, wobbly, tearful and not coping some days. That is my insecurity and not their failing and getting older has made me realise that good friends stick with you regardless but only if you let them in and don’t push them away when you aren’t your own perfect version of yourself.

So I will keep going anyway which is why I like running (or in my case ambling) because one day I won’t be able to and that day may come sooner for me than most people and in the meantime I will run and laugh and dance and love those special precious human beings that are my family and dear friends and we will have fun no matter what. I know my family will love me whatever and I know my girlfriends will push me in a wheelbarrow whilst taking the piss out of me and that is exactly what I need. Someone once asked me when I got diagnosed if I was going to move into a bungalow. I resisted the urge to tell them to run into my fist and instead asked them if they were planning on moving into an old people’s home because after all one day they would be old.

I was going to add a photo of me after I ran the Sports Relief 3 miles at the weekend with my friends and family but actually I have decided on my Cancer Research naked selfie. Because it is honest. This is me. My name is Anna and I have Multiple Sclerosis and I will NEVER give up.

 

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Sport dodging and my shrinking arse!

Stop procrastinating and get runnin

Stop procrastinating and get running!

Oh FFS I’ve gone and injured myself again which means a halt to running proceedings which results in me turning into a total grumpy bitch.

The even more annoying thing is I wasn’t doing anything remotely exercise related when I did it. Or swinging off a chandelier. Or jumping up and down on Mr Moore. Or chasing my kids. Or dancing the night away (I do have a rather spectacular big toenail injury from New Year’s eve but that’s another blog for another day….). Nope, I was putting away kids washing and I decided to move small boy’s giant wooden ride on aeroplane (I fucking hate that thing – sorry Dad) with my right foot. Cue agonising burning groin pain.

I have been trying to get fit and start running for quite some months now and although I know that I will never be the fastest or the fittest I actually really bloody love it! Why oh why has it taken me until 40 to realise that exercise is actually a good thing and that I actually love it? Well, I have MS for a starter which periodically scuppers things by making parts of my body not work properly and also depression has been a rather special unwanted friend in my life but more about that another time.

I think the biggest factor in my long standing hatred of anything sports related began in the one place that it should not have. School. I was geeky, gawky, slow and lacking in confidence. I always got picked last and I remember vividly our PE teacher yelling “A bunch of old age pensioners could run faster than you! My dead parrot could run faster than you!!!”. This was aimed at those of us girls who were not shall we say…as athletic as the rest. Motivating huh! I had had enough one time and did respond “That parrot must stink Miss it’s been dead for ages!!”. That was as well received as a shit sandwich, meaning that I was even further down the pecking order as far as budding sports star treatment went.

So, my dear departed Mum who also totally hated sports, wrote me a fake sick note every week so that I didn’t have to endure the humiliation and suffering that pretty much every sports lesson brought me. Especially if I’d forgotten my giant navy PE knickers – we all know that one right 70s girls?

Now, in my Mum’s defence she really thought that this was the right thing to do for her beloved tortured soul of an older daughter. But what she unwittingly did was fuel the fire for my disdain and to be honest, loathing of sport by doing exactly what my PE teacher was doing – excluding me. The only sport that I had ever remotely had an interest in ever had been swimming and we stopped doing that after we were 13 I think? No idea why. I have always found it very interesting that at that time (70s/80s) it was perfectly acceptable for sports teachers to ridicule and shame students who were not naturally able at anything physical. It wasn’t okay to laugh at pupils who were struggling academically but yet it was somehow encouraged to point and laugh and shout at those who were just quite frankly, totally shit at PE. At that time our options were Hockey, Netball (I ducked during a demo where the teacher had chosen me to show a new catch….), rounders (please god no) and in the summer, athletics. Now actually I didn’t mind running I just wasn’t very fast and because I was pretty consistently signed off with “female problems” (fictitious or real depending) I never got any better so Sports Day was the absolute worst day of the year EVER for me. I would be hiding down the bottom of the field smoking most likely ignoring the cries of “ANNA 400 METRES!!

Consequently I have always been somewhat sniffy (translate as actually terrified) of anything to do with fitness which is now pretty amusing as some of my closest friends are all about the sport. Lead by example they say? Well they have actually and honestly age has helped – I know I look like a twat in my running gear, I’m not going to win any prizes in MILF running magazine but you know what? I got fucking bored with being scared of it all. So when my gorgeous friend Ali Cooper asked me whether I might be interested in going if she started a bootcamp every fibre of my being screamed NOOOOOOOO FUCK OFF NO FUCKING WAY THEY WILL LAUGH AT YOU IT WILL BE LIKE SCHOOL!!! Then somewhere out of nowhere a little voice came out of my mouth and very very quietly whispered “yes”………..where did that come from?

So, some weeks later I rocked up in my lycra (yup I even braved buying SPORTS CLOTHES shhh) and I can honestly say that I have never been more terrified in my life. I thought I might die, they might have to call an ambulance, everyone would laugh and worst of all I might actually throw up, crap myself or cry. Still not sure why I think the latter is worse that dying but there you go.

Guess what?

It hurt. A lot. A whole lot. I had muscles hurting that I didn’t even know I had and it felt GREAT!! OMG I loved it!! I was part of a group of awesome women and we were exercising together and laughing and having fun and they weren’t laughing at me in a bad way! I do however have a tendency to be the class clown for which I have apologised but I can’t change everything…..only the size of my arse……hopefully.

So I am still going to bootcamp and I have started running (okay ambling would be a better expression) and have done the Couch to 5k. I ran 5.5k without stopping for the first time ever last Sunday with a very supportive lovely friend and it felt amazing. I am doing 3 miles in March for Sport Relief and I can’t wait. What the fuck has happened to me??? Exercise, that’s what and I love it. I helps me fight off the black dog of depression and keep my body strong and more coordinated with the MS.

So excuse me if I am totally fucking pissed off that I have properly hurt my poor old groin. I want to go running!!! I am going to stay calm and rest up and hopefully I will make it round without the aid of an ambulance…..although if any big strong men want to carry me that’s okay?