Ten Years Post Diagnosis: Reflections or Fuck. This. Shit.

Apocalypse, Be nice, Chilling on my goddamn superyacht., Death, Dissolving into liquid sky, Fatigue, Feminism, Happiness, I'd like to sit down please, It's not fair, Lemtrada, Life is hard, Medication, MS, Multiple Sclerosis, Vegetarianism, Women

Ten years, then. At diagnosis I was 27nearly28, so the mathematically inclined reader will naturally put two and two together (or add ten which, in this case, makes more sense) to find that I’m now 37nearly38. Rapidly approaching my three-score and ten. Or forty. Ridiculous.

Imagine, if you will, a school reunion scenario – and that Facebook* never existed so everyone doesn’t already know everyone else’s business anyway.

“Ema, hello, please fill me in on the details of your life since last we met.”

“Gladly. I have developed and continue to live with a chronic illness. Plus I would never go to such an event and have no interest in your stupid life.”

Such are the workings of a fully adult mind. Look ye on my sophisticated brain and despair!

Think of a way to link this paragraph to the last! Thanks. Finally gone vegetarian. Pescatarian. Few pesca, many vege. I’m Being Ecological. Read this book, by Timothy Morton. Had to reread each paragraph about three times to give myself a shot at vaguely understanding it. We’re being ecological just by living, breathing and occupying the same space as all the other human and nonhuman beings on this planet, man. Changed my life. Or viewpoint. Or at least something. Another book. Not a good one but one I found helpful. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by someone but I can’t remember who. Also mindset altering. Plus, obviously not sober, but drinking less which is better. ‘‘Tis all a work in progress. We must be kind to ourselves. Stop beating yourself up! You are not in Fight Club.

See, being close to a human constructed milestone (Being Forty), has triggered in me a fix-ur-life-up kind of thing. I think it’s about surrendering to the process. What’s the endgame? Where do you (I) want to get to? Ethically, health-wise, fitness and body-wise. Aiming for well-toned-vegan-ethical-nightmare. Although.

Literally, it’s a return to the earth, the dust, the air from whence we came. (Out, out brief candle!) Surrendering to the eventual and inevitable end: a goodbad idea.

We’re not here for long so remember to turn the lights off and don’t make too much mess.

In conclusion. Reflecting on the last ten years through my MS-tinted glasses. It’s a bit shit, really. A more detailed and boring reflection: the Lemtrada‘s working, last few MRIs show No Evidence of Disease Activity (NEDA), I’m mostly exhausted which is awful, I bore myself.

End with a joke. Thank your audience. Vacate the stage quickly. Lights out.

* scandal-hit

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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.

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.

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.