Life, like MS, is full of surprises when you least expect them. Like Donald Trump winning the Presidency, I was equally surprised recently when – like a hostage to fortune - I found that my MS had cemented my backside firmly into a chair. This had never happened to me before in my near 40-year relationship with multiple sclerosis and I’d be lying if I said I was fine with that, because I definitely wasn’t.
It only lasted maybe 30 seconds or so, but given the fact I allowed myself to forget to expect the unexpected, symptom-wise, it was inevitable that I was setting myself up for some kind of fall. I’ve coped over the years with extreme fatigue, indistinct speech, going blind, confused memory and the rest of the MS yada yada, so I guess my attitude towards the illness had become a little too cavalier.
Complacency had settled in because I thought I had all bases covered regarding symptoms and yet, as I very quickly found out, I hadn’t.
Of course it’s embarrassing not being able to grip and indiscriminately dropping things (my wife has banned me from picking things up in stores now after one too many breakables hit the deck). I’ve mastered the art of remaining nonchalant when losing my balance and falling into the arms of a surprised passing stranger or two. But this was something else, for being unable to move from a chair before emotionally going to pieces in a room full of people was an experience beyond words. It was like being hypnotised, aware that everyone was watching, and waiting for someone to break the spell; 3-2-1 and you’re back in the room.
There were warning signs, of course, leading up to the incident my buttocks and thighs stubbornly refusing to move. Over the last while I had been experiencing something called foot drop - a medical term for, and I quote, ‘a muscular weakness or paralysis that makes it difficult to lift the front part of the foot and toes.’ And that was me. The paralysis comes out of nowhere and leaves me rooted to the ground struggling to free my feet and break free. It’s not pleasant because if it happens in public then it looks to all and sundry that Mr Inebriate’s out on the town. But it passes painlessly and so long as I don’t panic, everything’s cool, and I’m on my way.
Yet until I found myself involuntarily stuck to the seat of the chair did it occur to me, incorrectly as it turned out, that multiple sclerosis had already done its worst to me. But I was wrong. Ah well, live and learn, as the saying goes but as I recovered from the shock, I remembered something very important. These days my attitude towards every unloved and unwanted MS symptom, no matter what the provocation, is just to keep calm and carry on. When it comes down to it, we might not have control of our bodies but our minds are still determined and strong. We will overcome everything that multiple sclerosis has to throw at us!