Taking it easy the other evening while the television droned n the background, after all, how many times can you watch reruns of even the best programmes, got me thinking about what having MS means to me.
It’s strange what the mind turns to when in a semi-comatose state!
It is now 14½ years since what had been a series of mysterious symptoms was finally diagnosed as multiple sclerosis. Symptoms that were investigated some 15 years earlier, including a lumbar puncture, but revealed nothing.
But in 2002, thanks to rapid action by my GP and some speedy responses at my then local hospital in the UK, the neurologist gave me his diagnosis in April. From referral from my GP to positive diagnosis, including all tests, took just three months.
The initial feeling was relief that the symptoms belong to a disease which has a name; my wife at the time was just pleased that it was not a brain tumour. I don’t remember the exact date. It was in April 2002, that’s as close as it’s possible to recall.
At the time, I knew nothing about the disease except it had a strange name and I needed to learn to spell it. Then I needed to learn more about it and for supplying a great deal of information, a tribute must be paid to the MS Society in the UK, where I then lived.
MS means early retirement
With mobility affected, going out to work proved possible for the next five years but then it just became too much and early retirement beckoned.
In the next few years, life was turned upside down but not because of MS. Events led to divorce and remarriage just eight weeks later.
Last year, by then using a wheelchair for all but the shortest of distances, I decided to start this blog and, after a slow start, it really took off.
At the same time, Lisa and I were planning our move to Spain, to enjoy sunny weather so unlike the grey cloudy skies so usual in the UK.
Now in Spain, my mobility is no better but recently it seems no worse either. Grip through my left hand is still poor but fractionally better than it was.
This blog led to an unexpected development in May this year when I was contact by MS News Today and asked to write for that website. Now, less than six months later I am busy developing and managing a team of patient specialists across some 50 disease/disorder sites.
And the great thing is that I can do everything from the comfort of my own armchair. What’s more, everything I do for this blog or MS News Today is great therapy
People talk about MS being one of the invisible illnesses, the sort that means people can have without others seeing it. In my case, I’m well beyond that stage if trying to walk, but sitting down, you’d be hard-pressed to tell.
50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease/didorder-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.