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

Advertisements

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.

Educationalist superhero.

Death, Education, Employment, Feminism, I'd like to sit down please, Noise

Mid-afternoon.  The house seems eerily quiet. Only the tinny sound of music from iPhone speakers, the ever-comforting murmur of a light comedy repeat on Radio 4 leaking from the kitchen, a psyche-rock record playing in the dining room and a long-unwatched BBC4 documentary still unwatched, but playing, in the living room, break the oppressive silence. Outside a wind registering somewhere between light-breeze and force-10 gale unremittingly rages. Wandering from room to room, catching snippets of voices – some unfamiliar, some like old friends – from the various devices littered throughout the building that is, has been, and will always be home. Until the final days – be they apocalyptic or a soft drift into sleepy and then unknowing blackness.

How the mind wanders when one is awaiting a phone-call alerting them to the possibility of paid, yes PAID, supply-teaching work.

Like an educationalist superhero, I shall don a professional yet comfortable, authoritative looking – but stylish, always stylish – smock dress, perhaps a cardigan for it is chilly and also I have bought a new one, in, let’s say, mustard, pack my emergency-biros and a neccessary flask of tea (alas, will I ever find one that does not leak), and then I shall be off! Not flying but in my cardboard box car, ready to do my utmost to ensure that the educational chances of the poor mites of Shrewsbury (and surrounding areas) are not too adversely affected by the absence of their regular teacher. Heroic. Yet humble.

Hey man, it’s just who I am!

female-superheros

Dying with Dignit(as)y. 

Anxiety, Assisted Suicide, Death, Dignitas, Dissolving into liquid sky, Life is hard, MS, Multiple Sclerosis, Worry

L and I spent our morning yesterday researching how much it costs to go to Dignitas. 

We’re both alright by the way, don’t want you to worry, we haven’t booked flights (yet), but… It’s been in the news recently – the 70 something woman who was generally fine but just really didn’t want to experience the type of old age that she’d witnessed in her time as a nurse. So off she went. Never to return. I’m  completely empathetic to this point of view. 

When I was at the lowest point of my devastating relapse (previous posts: Losing all the things), in a heap at the bottom of the MS well, despairingly attempting to focus on the ever diminishing sunlight, I thought a lot about dying. About how, if the things I had lost never found their way back to me, I couldn’t envision a life that I’d want to live. Some people could, I get that, but for me there is a point at which I’d give up, throw in the towel, call the whole thing off. The thing that terrifies me most is the loss of my voice. Metaphorically and a bit literally as well. I never never ever want to find myself trapped in a situation where decisions are removed from out of my control. That’s a clumsy sentence, I know. But losing control. No. *shakes head, looks decisive, and cool, good hair!

And this thing, this losing, or getting lost, not having a voice, being spoken for – I couldn’t live if that was caused by MS or illness in old age. 

I’m lucky, at the age of 35, to have four grandparents who are (mostly) fine. Especially the women: they know their own minds. I hope I’m like them. And I hope they live – healthily, happily, well – you know, forever. 

But, in addition to their wellness, they have children, grandchildren who love them. They’re never going to be forgotten, neglected, lonely. And my parents obviously have my brother and me. But there it stops. Is having a child so you’ve basically got a possible future carer okay? Obviously they might not particularly want that, but hey! I will’ve given them the gift of actual life!

Ideally my dream death would be at home, asleep, bed surrounded by weeping disciples who all immediately take their own lives at the point of my death, in solidarity with me, so the room resembles the end of a Shakespearean tragedy, aside from one who can’t join us until she’s written a flattering portrayal of my life and works, various miracles etc, which will, when discovered years after my passing, become a uniting world religion that ends all conflict and suffering. Ideally. 

Basically, I don’t want to have to get on a plane, fly to Switzerland, die in a clinical space that’s so much not home. And I think the anxiety surrounding old age, chronic illness, would dissipate if assisted suicide was legalised in the UK. Feel free to disagree. That’s just where I stand. At the moment.