This has been my first full calendar year of having MS (or knowing about it, at least). In many ways it has been one of the best, most productive years I have experienced. For several reasons this may not initially appear to be the case though. I have spent a lot of time doing “nothing”, have stepped down from a role in the middle leadership team at school, taking a fairly noticeable pay cut, and spent a few weeks almost immobile in my lower half and using a wheelchair for at least some of the time. So it might not look so great to an outside observer.
However, from where I’m standing – or sitting – it has felt pretty good for a good proportion of the time.
This year’s achievements and moments of satisfaction are, in no particular order, (although I’m sure there is at least some deep-rooted subconscious element to my choices):
- Successfully delivering my son to university, almost totally equipped, minus a few items of crockery and a couple of essential musical instruments, and watching his transformation from boy to man (not yet complete, in my opinion, but well underway!).
- The sheer delight on the face of my youngest daughter when she realised, standing outside the Cambridge Theatre, that we were going inside to watch “the real Matilda!”
- My eldest daughter receiving honours in her dance exam and venturing on her first ever school trip abroad to France.
- Swimming Lake Windermere. An experience that became all the more magical once it was over.
- Achieving a semi-final place in the UK song-writing competition with the song I wrote for my friend’s wedding a few years ago.
- Winning (more importantly being nominated for) the Viking FM Teacher of the Year Award. Watching the video message that my class had secretly recorded in school which was played at the ceremony.
- Successfully completing (one – long – day of) Ramadan during the summer. Fasting for 17 hours and realising that I do in fact possess at least some willpower.
- Starting a blog and sharing my experiences of having MS and life in general with some people in my circle of family and friends, and a few outside of this too.
- Being asked to write a post for the MS Trust’s own blog on their website.
- Buying a wheelchair and using it. Not regularly (and I am grateful for this every day) but I have alleviated the dark looming dread of being a “wheelchair user” that I, personally, think accompanies an MS diagnosis. I have done it; I might need to do it again, I might not. But it is not the end of the world. (Easier to say when it was only temporary, I realise. This should not be interpreted as me taking this lightly.)
- Joining a choir, and performing in front of several hundred people at Hull City Hall with some very lovely people who I am coming to count as friends as well as fellow choir members.
- Writing a letter to Jason Donovan to ask him if I can sing with him. Still awaiting a response. Still hopeful.
- Starting a book club. We have met on a grand total of two occasions. But it started. We have a facebook group and everything so it’s official.
- Living alone. Not for long, and thankfully not any more, but for reasons that don’t need discussing here, I spent a period of a few weeks living as the sole adult in the house with my youngest. As terrifying and disorientating as this felt at the time, it has served me well and given me a perspective that I had never before experienced. I mean, I had to put the bins out myself. It’s amazing how much that can change a person.
- Starting on a course of Disease Modifying Treatment which, hopefully, will reduce further relapses and slow the progress of my MS. I am grateful every day for the NHS footing the bill for this. (See earlier blog posts).