Human beings are inherently rubbish at knowing what to say when presented with bad news. That’s not a criticism, just an observation I have made. I am guilty of it myself. We just don’t know what to say, scared of saying the wrong thing or making it worse. We automatically try and ‘look on the bright side’, finding a comparison to someone worse off than ourselves, to make it not seem as bad. It just seems to be human nature, how we are wired up.
And it is true, I might get run over by a bus tomorrow. But more likely that I won’t. And it is true, I might never have another episode of MS. But more likely that I will and will have to learn to adapt and live with it. Because sometimes there isn’t a bright side to look upon. Things are just as they are.
This must be a very difficult concept for parents to come to terms with. Certainly mine have spent the last 30 years trying to put things right for me. Like pulling me out of the grid by my ankles when I fell in head first when I was 3. Picking me up from Guide camp when I was homesick and delivering me back there the following morning after a night in my own bed. Driving to Sheffield at night when I locked my keys, wallet and phone in my car. And so the list goes on …
But this is one thing that they can’t fix. They can’t change. And I know that they find that very difficult.
And so it is I have tried to protect them, shelter them from the reality of the situation. As they have sought to protect me for the last 30 years, now I try to do the same for them. Certainly when my mum read my first post ‘How it all began …’ she remarked that I had never told her it was that bad.
But that, I have found, is where friends come in. Friends don’t need to be protected. They don’t have the same guilt, the same fear of not being able to put it right. I have cried with my friends about recent events but I also have had a good laugh with them too. Infact a certain group are currently saving to buy me a Ted Baker designed, swarovski crystal encrusted mobility scooter and hopefully will have managed to save enough if and when the need for it arises …
I’ve found that sharing my situation with friends often encourages them to share their own experiences of things that they have been through that are connected in some way, experiences that I would never have otherwise known about. And so it has brought us closer.
Some people are better at this than others. Some people struggle with what to say, it makes them feel awkward. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t care.
One such friend of mine is Neil.
I met Neil back in 2003 through his now wife Philippa. I sat next to Philippa at Bar School. I nick-named her Phylis. It soon became clear that Phylis and I had a lot in common and so we became friends. It soon followed that Phylis and Neil and Me and Tom started socialising together going for meals, drinks, pub quizzes and annual trip to the Halle concert at Tatton Park complete with a very sophisticated multi-course picnic.
Neil recently described himself as ‘effectively useless at dealing with difficult situations’ in relation to my diagnosis. However he also offered to assist with my injections once they arrive which I took as a sign of deep concern and not that he wants to stab me …
Anyway Neil came up with the most amazing idea. On 22nd April 2012 he is running the London Marathon. And he has decided to run it for me.
When he ‘asked’ me whether it would be ‘ok’ for him to do this I wept. Luckily it was via text message and so he didn’t know I was crying or he would probably have gone to pieces … I couldn’t believe that he wanted to do this for me. It was amazing. For as long as I can remember I have wished, no yearned, to be the proud owner of the holy grail of footwear … the sexy red soles … the sharp sophisticated heel … the buttery soft leather … a pair of Christian Louboutin’s … they were the only thing that could cheer me up and after all I deserved them in light of recent events.
It was then that Neil explained he was in fact going to do the marathon in aid of the MS Society. Not shoes. My heart sank …
On a serious note, Neil’s efforts are truly amazing. This will be his third marathon and so I am expecting him to place quite highly or perhaps even win, him being a dab hand and all. His training is well underway and only last week he was forced to run a half marathon on a treadmill whilst on a work trip to America. Although he’s still got nothing on me on the walking test … he’s rubbish at speed walking in stilettos.
If anyone would like to sponsor Neil you can do so here:
So thank you Neil. I’ll be there on 22nd April to make sure you aren’t slacking. And I don’t know whether you know, but some extra vitamin D might help … I was thinking a little trip to the Maldives???