30. Kate Middleton stole my thunder

‘The Amatino-Gosling residence are pleased to announce that they are expecting a baby!!”

Just as it got to an appropriate time to tell people, the bloomin’ Dutchess of Cambridge got in there first, stealing my thunder entirely. The attention of the world’s press was drawn to the King Edward VII hospital and away from North Manchester General …

It’s funny because I was never really interested in babies until I hit 30 in October 2011. Up until then I had been focused on my career, striving for the next step up, the next case, the next rung on the pay-scale. And then it hit me. Like a brick over the head. Problem was, babies weren’t the only thing that hit me when I hit 30. Being 30 hit me. And so did MS.

It was during 2011 that I began to deviate from ‘me’, from who I am, only I didn’t see it at the time. I became anxious, lost confidence and pushed away those closest to me. In hindsight I made some pretty poor decisions which at the time seemed like a good idea. I felt like I couldn’t cope. Even getting up in the morning and getting myself to court was overwhelming. I didn’t want to speak to people, was snappy, and spent increasing amounts of time on my own. But even then I couldn’t sleep or concentrate on anything.

Things came to a head in the November whilst Christmas shopping in Boots on Market Street. The 3 for 2 gifts in the Christmas section were so overwhelming, the shop so busy, the music so loud … I became hot like my head was going to explode and my chest was tight. I just couldn’t do it. And so I abandoned my shopping and walked out of the shop, straight up Market Street and back to the sanctuary of my flat without stopping.

It was then I realised that something had gone wrong (after all I love shopping!) – the confident, lively, friendly, professional woman I strive to be had become introverted, anxious and lonely. And so I went to see my doctor.

When you are given life changing news, whether it be the death of a relative, the loss of a relationship or in my case an illness, no matter how well you think you are and how well you appear to be ‘dealing’ with it, it has an effect on you somewhere deep inside. And it is only a matter of time before you can’t ‘deal’ with it any longer and it’s ugly head emerges through the surface and no matter how hard you try you can’t smother it or push it back down to where it came from.

As a society it seems to me that we are very reluctant to admit that there is a problem; we see needing a helping hand as a sign of weakness; we view help such as counselling or medication as pointless or a cop-out.

Well let me tell you, there’s something amazingly liberating about sitting down with a total stranger and telling them your worries, fears and what it is that keeps you awake at night. Things that you are too afraid to admit to your nearest and dearest for fear of upsetting them or allowing your ‘brave face’ to slip. And there is nothing wrong at all in accepting help in the form of medication for a few months, to help get you back on an even-keel and make Boots Christmas section more manageable (after all most forms of depression are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain).

Infact you’d be surprised at the amount of people you know, family members or friends dear to you, who have had similar problems and similar help. If you were brave enough to discuss it with them of course.

And so by late Spring 2012 I was pretty much back to my old self. So much so that I was able to put right some of the rather questionable choices that I had made. I’m just incredibly grateful that the people who had bourn the brunt of the situation were still there for me when I did. (Thank you Tom for always being there – I love you.)

Oh how much can change in just a year!

And so now I am ready to embark upon a new chapter in my life MS and all – the most exciting, challenging and rewarding chapter to date – that of being a mum.

The day we found out was a pretty strange day all round.

I had an interview for an internal job – a promotion – which was quite frankly a steep step up, the other two interviewees having ten years experience on me – but nevertheless I had got through the application stage. The interview was at the Preston office and my letter said that my interview time was 11am. But as usual, things didn’t quite go according to plan. I arrived in good time and went inside … only to be told that my letter was wrong and that they weren’t expecting me until 2pm. I then spent the next 4 hours effectively killing time and, well, thinking. Thinking so much that I made a diversion to Boots on the way home.

At the same time Tom was in court in Sheffield. Sheffield where his sister lives and had, that day, had our beautiful nephew Oscar. And so after court Tom went to the hospital to visit them.

Later that night he returned home gushing with the news and excitement of having met his nephew at only a few hours old … ‘Nic, I really want a baby…’ he said … ‘Well funny you should mention it’ I said ….

I didn’t get the job, afterall my mind was on other things at the time, but for the first time in my life I didn’t mind.

If the last 18 months have taught me anything it’s that you have to go through bad times in order to really appreciate the good times.

‘And we’re all owed joy sooner or later, the trick’s to remember when it was or to see it coming …’

Carol Ann Duffy

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29. Back by popular demand.

In the past few weeks I have been asked several times whether I am still writing my blog. Well the answer is, of course I am! In the general sense of the word of course, as I haven’t actually written anything for over a month now…

The problem has been, you see, that not much has been happening on the MS front. My MS hasn’t been up to much and so consequently I haven’t had much to write about. That isn’t to say that I haven’t been up to much – in fact quite the contrary. I could tell you about my recent trip to New York, my weekend to Belfast with the girls, the arrival of my new nephew, the crazy few months that I’ve had at work – but none of those things have anything to do with MS and as this is an MS blog I guess I ought to stick to the point.

Having MS is now just one of those things and not something to which I give much thought. Well not on a regular basis anyway. As I’ve said before, if it were not for the daily Copaxone injections, then I could quite easily forget about it altogether. In this regard I count myself very lucky. There are people who think that having something ‘wrong’ with you must mean that there are things you ‘cannot do’ – but this is could not be further from the truth. In fact it makes me do more than I did before. To make the most of things. Because life is precious and ought to be lived to the full.

Anyway back to the point … something MS related did happen this week. And so it only seems right that I write about it.

On Friday I went to see my consultant at the MS clinic for the results of my recent MRI scan. Fortunately I was off work and so didn’t have the usual mad-rush-to-hospital-rush-back-to-court situation that usually accompanies my appointments nor the series of work phonecalls and texts whilst I was there. Unfortunately the hospital obviously didn’t know that I was off work and did not have the usual mad-rush-to-hospital-rush-back-to-court situation that usually accompanies my appointments and had given my an appointment time first thing in the morning thus preventing any sort of off-work lie in.

I sometimes feel like a ┬ábit of a phoney at the MS clinic and Friday was a particular example. Looking around the waiting room makes me question whether I have the same condition as the other patients. I don’t have any difficulties in getting around, any outward signs that something is wrong. It makes me feel like a bit of a fraud, like my appointment time could be better used by someone else who actually needs it.

I did the walking test as is the norm at these appointments. The fact I got the quickest time in the clinic that day (under 12 seconds) only added to my feelings that I was wasting everyone’s time. I managed to subdue my victory lap and ‘Mobot’ on the grounds that it was wholly inappropriate in the circumstances.

The results of the scan were also positive. The existing lesions on my brain (shown on the previous scan as white spots) have improved, healed, and so become less visible. It is likely, although not certain, that this improvement is due to the Copaxone injections. On the down side there was one new white spot which hadn’t been there before. As my consultant explained, the Copaxone does not provide 100% protection against the formation of new lesions, although my take on it was that this was pretty good all round. Especially in light of the fact that this lesion hasn’t resulted in any new symptoms.

It seems that Lucy Lui and the other angels have managed to keep a lid on things. Think that anger management course I sent them on must have been beneficial ….

The consultant described my MS as being ‘inactive’. Whilst that is something I am definitely not, it certainly seems to be the best situation for my MS.

At this rate Lucy Lui and the girls will be taking up Buddhism…

… and I might have to diversify this MS blog …