Thursday, January 1, 2015
If you have a dream, step of the edge and grasp it tight with both hands because your future unknown and sometimes a gremlin wanders across your path and leaves a nasty hurdle or two. In my case it is a nasty insidious little hurdle but one I have accepted and come to terms with.
I have taken the first tentative steps on a very personal journey, a lifelong journey with an unwanted companion from whom I can neither escape nor ignore – Multiple Sclerosis.
I am a man of a certain age and I suspect that I am typical of my generation with two guiding healthcare principles.
1) Doctors are best kept for emergencies and,
2) Left alone most things get better of their accord.
I tolerated and managed the symptoms as best I could for four years until they eventually morphed into the quintessential elephant in the room that cannot be ignored. I am fortunate to have an excellent GP who spent close to an hour with me and immediately organised an MRI to confirm her diagnosis. This was instantly followed by input overload, too much information to absorb followed by appointments with specialists and therapists to keep. A variety of seemingly completely unrelated conditions now all have a common thread.
I will admit the diagnosis caught me completely by surprise, I knew little about MS other than I associated this disease with old people and wheelchairs and I certainly don’t fit that pattern.
As I blindly step forward into the shadowy labyrinth of our health system I am thankful that I have the support of two outstanding women. The first is Michelle, my wonderful wife who takes great care of me, cheerfully tolerates my periods of melancholy and becomes my default memory whenever mine dissipates behind a grey cloud and refuses to surface. My short-term memory is patchy, sometimes memories disappear for a short while only to resurface at a later time and other memories just vanish as if they have never existed. I am told this is quite common with MS.
The second is my dedicated GP who put the pieces of the puzzle together to form the diagnosis, coordinates the specialists and therapists, makes the appointments, follows up on the results and always seems to have plenty of time to deal with my concerns.
There is no cure for MS and little in the way of effective treatment. The aim is to reduce the severity of the attacks and minimise the damage caused. The prognosis is unknown but most people with MS continue to live an active life. I feel lucky, our little farm is my sanctuary in a changing world, but only time will tell.