I’m making progress on my walking. Even made it as far as the end of the street yesterday before half-collapsing onto Zim’s saddle for a rest, holding onto his handles with sweaty hands.
Zim came through for me, same as usual. And I’m finally – a mere eight years after diagnosis – understanding that more recovery from my last attack may be possible, even if only a little. I’m walking a bit further each day, pedalling a few minutes longer too. The relief’s enough to make me want to cry, it’s just the anti-depressants won’t let me.
It was only through a chance conversation a couple of years ago with a contemporary from university I bumped into at a Buddhist retreat programme that I began to understand about MS recovery potential. “There must be more they can do to help get you in better shape,” he said. No, I said, I was stuck with the disability I had; I’d be clinging onto sofas and chairs to get around my own sitting room for the rest of my days, and only on the days I’d enough energy to get out of bed. “If you’re still at the relapsing-remitting stage, more recovery should, theoretically, be possible,” he said.
A revelation to me.
I’m still obviously disabled; I wobble every step I try to take, and am often fearful of not making it to the loo in time to avoid an ‘accident’. I’m not going to be running a marathon any time soon, since I can’t do more than stumble places, clinging onto Zim and Mark as I go. But I’m finally understanding that at least I have the kind of MS (known as relapsing-remitting) that means I might be able to recover a wee bit more in terms of both function and stamina.
Probably people explained that to me eight years ago, but I was on a spicy brew of heavy-duty medicines and recovering from brain damage; I wasn’t taking much in. Too busy reinterpreting great chunks of the past, finally understanding that maybe I wasn’t the lazy malingerer I’d feared.
Remembering that time…
That time I fell over at Embankment tube, falling splat on my face on hard London paving stone. When I slipped on the steps after the fancy City of London party, shattering my front teeth into shards of white enamel the day before a job interview. I was too busy worrying people might assume I was drunk to start thinking of neurological illness as the real explanation.
Today, I’m chuffed if Zim and I can make it to the end of the street without me falling over or running out of steam. No, we don’t live in an especially long street, in case you’re wondering.
When first diagnosed, life felt as good as over. Unable even to lift a saucepan (too heavy, especially with water in it) to cook pasta for my family. At least, not without the risk of dropping the whole thing onto the floor and having to beg for help in clearing up the mess.
In fairness, I was terrified and also on a lot of medication. Plus, it had been, all too literally, a case of going to bed with a bad headache and waking up unable to walk or see anything out my right eye. Except for showers of nerve-damaged lights.
It was a long, long time before I could even bear to find out if the sight in that eye was coming back.
So, I’ve got a new goal for myself: get strong enough and save up the money for me and Zim to go to these mountains and walk there. Even if we can’t go very far. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.