Pseudo-relapses. WTF?

Anxiety, Dissolving into liquid sky, It's not fair, Lemtrada, Life is hard, Medication, MS, Multiple Sclerosis, Pseudorelapse, relapse, Worry

Exactly. WTF is a so-called pseudo-relapse anyway, and WHY?

A pseudo-relapse is a fun bit of MS bantz.

TOTAL LEGEND! What happens is, you have an infection – maybe your classic UTI or, if you’re me, which I am, you have that and, plus, of course, your thyroid gland spends a good few months wildly veering between out of normal range high and out of normal range low before entering insanely hyperbolic death throes after being zapped with radioactivity, and your – in this case my – body reacts by retreating into its comfort zone of distressing malfunction.

It’s a relapse brought on by external factors rather than by your MS kicking off.

My incapacity manifests thusly: right side of my body ceases to function. Walking involves, often, being unable to lift my right leg so therefore dragging it along the floor in a sort of imitation skim-walk (see George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo). Right arm hangs uselessly by my side reminiscent of a terrifying zombie, so I am forced to teach D to do ponytails as hair in your face can be well vexing. Instruction involves me frustratedly saying things such as, “what are you actually trying to achieve?”, “in what universe do you expect that to function as a ponytail?”, “I have literally no idea what you are attempting in this endeavour”, and such. Which is pretty much my teaching style as it is.  In addition, fun-times include spending ten minutes on waking trying to solve the puzzle of how to sit up – ‘Ema Weston awoke one morning to find herself transformed into a giant slug.’ Plus my voice is all ridiculous and salivary and slurry. BANTER.

Pseudo-relapses are scary because you don’t immediately know that they’re pseudo.  Inevitably your first thoughts are pure panic. Shitshitshitthetreatmenthasn’t workedIt’shappeningagainMSisgoingtotake meoverI’llbeirretrievablylostthistime nohopenohopenohopenohopenohope…

And then.

You start to believe the medical professionals and you get some steroids (I FUCKING LOVE STEROIDS – although they do give you insomnia which is why I’m writing this at 2:52) and you start to recover pretty quickly I HOPE AND TRUST.

And then you begin to think at least I’m not under rubble in Mexico City, at least I haven’t watched my house blow away in Anguilla, or have no fresh water in Puerto Rico, at least bombs aren’t falling on me in   Syria, at least British-made artillery isn’t maiming my children in Yemen, at least land-mines aren’t killing me as I try to escape to safety from a country that denies my nationhood like the Rohingya in Myanmar, at least I’m not dying in the slums of Mumbai after watching all my possessions wash down the street before disappearing, and Trump and North Korea and Brexit and austerity and AfD in Germany and climate change and refugees still, still,  trying to get here and the officially sanctioned hostile environment that awaits them if they ever do…

Oh dear (see Adam Curtis: Oh Dearism).

And on that, back to bed.


***Dedicated to K, who I miss terribly ***


Additional notes

  • My most recent MRI, done in July of this year, showed No Evidence of Disease Activity (NEDA) which I was obviously over the moon about, which is why this has come as such a horrible surprise. I hope I’m still in the NEDA camp but this may be down to lack of understanding on my part.
  • I sound glib, but it’s the overwhelming hopelessness I feel.
  • I’m an ardent Remainiac.
  • Yes, it is you I mean, K. StokeC is brilliant, but I’d like you to come back please. As well. I’m needy and entitled!
  • Meet me at the Lake Pub.
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Things I believe to be true – some of which manifestly are.

Bodies of water, Death, Dissolving into liquid sky

There is no final, universal meaning. The answer isn’t 42. There (probably) isn’t a God, and if there is – she stopped listening ages ago. We are but insignificant specks living out our brief lives on a spinning rock hurtling through cold infinite space. Think of ants crawling across a blank sheet of paper. I hope I’m wrong on this. Or right. I can’t decide which is worse.

Our beautiful planet is going to become an increasingly hostile place on which to exist over the coming decades. It is too late for the effects of devastating climate change to be checked. We’ve blown it. Oh well. C’est la vie. That’s all I have to say.

O Europe. Where once, in recent history, the fall of borders was a cause for celebration, now they’re reappearing. Union crumbles, predictably, unfortunately, into division. Revolutions circle entirely, ending up where they started. O Europe. I’m scared of where you’re – we’re – heading. History has a habit of repeating, but now we’ve got weapons that can take life, and lots of it, with even greater efficacy. Out, out, brief candles.

Our response to the refugee crisis, so far, has been…lamentable? I honestly don’t think we have yet developed language that can adequately convey the complete horror of what’s happening. The overwhelming feeling of helplessness that is engendered. I read the papers, watch the news and cry. But, so what? Who are my tears helping? O Europe. O, O, O.

And before we can deal with our planet, with our continent, what about our country? Are we rushing back into some kind of 11th Century feudal system, via the Victorian workhouse, and whatever came between the two, My history isn’t great, you may have noticed.

Aaaaooooooorrrrryyygghhhhhh (Anguished scream).

I am so grateful that, by accident of birth, pure serendipity, I was born where I was, and ended up ‘middle-class’ with a profession that awards me adequate pay. I’m not complacent through. Or at least I try not to be. Complacency suggests contentment with the status quo  “no matter how fucked up the status quo is.” And it’s really fucked up.

It’s very hard to imagine yourself as an old person. I’m talking eighty, or whatever. When you’re a kid, you probably imagine being eighteen, maybe twenty-one. I mean, truly visualise yourself at that age. But not far beyond that.  I think I’ll die before I’m seventy. Actually, before that. I’ve always been convinced that’s what will happen. It’s fine, I’m not distraught or anything. I just can’t picture me getting old. Like, properly old. Or, is it like that for everybody? Maybe the MS thing is part of it. But, I’m convinced it’s something I’ve always felt. Oh, I dunno. Who cares?

I guess I should mention MS, as this blog does trade under that umbrella. I’m feeling alright at the moment. The Lemtrada themed hospital stay continues to get closer; I’ve got new pyjamas. I’m actually quite looking forward to having the excuse to do nothing but read for five days. Except, in all likelihood, I’ll feel all ill and sick and therefore be unable to concentrate on actual printed words. Alas.

Insanity through inaction.

Anxiety, Cats, Employment, Happiness, Life is hard, Medication

Let’s set the scene.  A bar, midweek, early evening, some sort of social gathering. Music plays indistinctly in the background, inconsequential chat drifts across the room as friends of friends and acquaintances of work colleagues awkwardly exchange small talk.

The camera begins to zoom in and, deep breath, there she is! The writer (ofthisblog). Gazing pseudo-interestedly at an art print on the wall, sipping a glass of red wine. Responding to a gentle tap on her shoulder, she turns…

Hey! – it’s been, like, forever – where’ve you been?

Hey! – uh, y’know – here and there, back and forth – holidays and all that – but here I am – back now.

So, dear reader, if you’d do me the kindness of taking on the role of ‘guest at indeterminate social gathering’ and I’ll be me. Don’t worry, you won’t have to do anything but listen, and do try to maintain eye-contact. I’ll be mainly monologuing.

Where do I start? Let’s go with MEDICATION.

If you think back, you’ll remember that I was hoping to stop Tysabri sooner rather than later – the two-year deadline is mid-November – and start ‘my Lemtrada journey’. Near to the end of August, I had an appointment at Royal Stoke University Hospital with their neurologist, who I liked a lot, and he said “yeah, that’s fine” – or words to that effect. Yesterday (yes, just yesterday) his MS nurse called and asked me to go in to see her next month and told me I could stop Tysabri immediately! This is good news. There’s a three-month wash out period so the Lemtrada won’t happen yet, but still. I shall tell you more as and when…

UNEMPLOYMENT

To sleep in and not have to deal with all that the first day of a new school year entails was delicious. The rest of the week though? I fear I was perhaps a little crazy by Friday. It’s the not doing anything, man. I mean, obviously I haven’t literally done nothing at all. I’ve read quite a bit. Listened to podcasts. Had my hair coloured. Hung out with the cat (can you spend too much time with your cat?). Not made myself a schedule which I had sworn was something I was definitely, without a doubt, for sure going to do. I spent the week stagnating. My brain disintegrating, My conversation collapsing.  Maybe I’m exaggerating a smidgen. I need some supply though, unless I am to be incarcerated in debtors prison. Or sectioned. One or the other looks likely. Might get a book out of the experience though, so swings and roundabouts.

Anyhow. Is that the time? I must be away! Things to do!* People to see!** Madness to stave off!***

Swiftly gulping the last of her wine as she stands to leave, you wonder when, and if, you’ll see her again. As she heads for the door, a voice cuts through the now alcohol-lubricated chatter,

Is this chair free?

chair

*Lie.

**Lie.

***Not a lie.

Miscellany. 

Damn like or damn comment on my damn blog! Thank you., Fatigue, MS, Multiple Sclerosis, Summertime drinking

Yo. It’s Sunday morning, I’ve thrown open my window and can hear the contented twitterings of various garden birds, floating into my bedroom.* The smoky haze clouding the sky has started to be burnt away by an increasingly confident, dare I say cocky, sun. It promises to be a lovely day. That’s what the Met Office weather app says, anyway. Albeit less poetically, and with pictures.   

  
I’m sure, dearest reader, you’ve gathered that I have nothing of significance to impart to you on this fine day. Yep. True dat. So, instead, I might equip you with a list to be going along with. It seems to be the only right and proper thing to do. You onboard, so to speak? Okay. Deep breath. Here goes:

  • Every morning I’m taking a, not ridiculous, but, let’s say, silly number of pills. Regarde: MitoQ x 2 (no idea if they’re having any effect at all, or what exact effect they should be having); Gabapentin x 2 (to be repeated twice more throughout the day, if you’re an MSer it’s 3x900mg – for LOUSY NERVE SPASMS – these work, good); sertraline, for my MOOD; amantadine (for the FATIGUE – don’t appear to be doing cuss-all). I’m not quite rattling yet, but, you know. 
  • Item two on my list. Er. I’m still under the specific weather system a committee has voted, unanimously, to call FATIGUE. 
  • It’s not like I’m completely incapacitated though, before you rush over with magazines and lovingly prepared meals in little goddam Tupperware boxes. More inconvenienced. Thanks, though. 
  • Can I get away with not washing my hair this morning? Because that’s such a tedious life-force sucking activity. And I really can’t be bothered. It’ll be alright, right?
  • Final list item: this is the end of the list. 

Are you still here? Well, can you leave please? Go! I’ve got a day to attack. Or nudge. Clip, at least.  

 

*This isn’t a good sentence. Badly constructed. I mean the sounds, not the actual birds.  Okay?

Stuff that worries me. 

Anxiety, Apocalypse, Cats, MS, Multiple Sclerosis, Uncategorized, Why aren't I Patti Smith?, Women, Worry

1. The inevitable consequences of runaway climate change because I’m frightened of a Children of Men/final section of The Bone Clocks/The Road future. How does one acquire a cyanide pill? Does one have to learn how to navigate The Dark Web? 

2. My MS getting really really really bad. Cyanide pill? Availability thereof? (I mean really bad). 

3. My MS getting really bad in a scenario such as outlined in 1.

4. Glasses breaking beyond repair if (when) an apocalyptic scenario does come to pass. I’m practically blind and I’m assuming that my supply of contact lenses won’t last indefinitely. They’re -11, thanks for asking. I know! [Note to self: get some glasses.]

5. Running out of my favourite brand of almond milk and Sainsbury’s (the only place that seems to stock it) running out too. Nightmare

6. A tarantula escaping from the home of someone I could never, ever be friends with and, in search of warmth, climbing into the engine of my car and, as I’m driving on a reasonably fast road, crawling into the car. I either die immediately (of fright) or die shortly after (of crashing into a tree or lorry). Just typing this increased my heart rate. 

7. The whereabouts of my cat at this moment. 

8. Unexpectedly coming across a picture of George Osborne and, before my brain’s had the chance to register what it’s looking at, feeling a glimmer of attraction. Horrible.  

Just no.

7. That I’m not widely read enough and that the books I’ve been reading are the wrong ones. 

8. Jon Snow can’t really be dead, can he? 

Definitely not dead.

9. That I’m simply a product of my time, entirely shaped by forces beyond my control. No original thoughts, feelings, responses, opinions, likes, dislikes…and does it matter anyway? Or that I’m the only sentient being in a world of robots…and does it matter anyway?

10. The whereabouts of the cat now. 

11. We’ve chosen the wrong colour for the living room. I wish it was white instead. 

12. Patti Smith. Björk. P. J. Harvey. Kate Bush. Viv Albertine. Neneh Cherry. Annie Clarke. Poly Styrene. M.I.A. Why aren’t I an amazing woman? 

 

13. Asteroids. Specifically hitting us.  

14. Is it normal to be 97% anxiety around 89% of the time?

15. Does this look like a small bruise or an early warning sign of cancer? Because I read that Bob Marley thought he’d just got a football injury but when it was too late…are you listening?

16. That I talk too much.