Sunday, 17 October 2021

Ramblings on Living with Multiple Sclerosis

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL (DESPITE HAVING MS)


No.3


I can park close to the shops and most times it’s free


I resisted it for a long time but in the end I had to admit the need for a blue badge. My name is Andy and I’m disabled. That was a hard one to accept but the blue badge was that state of affairs rubber stamped. Rather than the fact that I’m a blue badge holder, I prefer to think of the episode of The IT Crowd where Roy uses the disabled toilet before pulling the emergency cord, thinking it’s the flush, then has to pretend he’s had his wheelchair stolen. ‘I’m disabled!’ he squeaks to the concerned staff, who wonder how he’s had his wheelchair stolen while he’s in a locked toilet. [IT Crowd 'I'm Disabled' link]


‘I’m disabled!’ said in the same silly high-pitched voice as Roy is exactly what came out of my mouth when I got that piece of plastic through the post. I guess I was deflecting some of the pain I felt at having it confirmed in such incontrovertible fashion by summoning up what in my opinion is one of the funniest sitcom episodes ever.


Also softening the blow was the picture on my shiny new blue badge. I found an old passport photo in the back of a drawer from my wannabe rock star days. I stared at this youthful face framed by long hair (a stranger once told me I looked like Kurt Cobain – surely one of my proudest days) and couldn’t help viewing my carefree pre-MS expression with something akin to dismay. I realise there was no way of knowing what was on its way, but why did I have to waste so much of my youthful, healthy years on hangovers and bad fashion choices. If only I’d have known, I’d have tried to be awake for longer, made the most of every minute and not belly-ached about so much small, inconsequential crap.


And yes, I know you’re supposed to use a recent image, but it wasn’t that long ago and still looked like me and how often do you like a passport photo of yourself? And I have to admit a tiny thrill at the thought of a ticket inspector examining the badge and thinking, ‘Hey, this disabled guy looks cool.’ Me? Shallow? How very dare you.


Anyway, that was my first disabled badge. I’m onto my second now and for this one I did use a recent photo that displayed every line from my fifty-two years. It amuses me to imagine it’s the same person who administered my application this time around. She would, of course, remember me from the first ‘Kurt Cobain didn’t really kill himself he’s alive and well and living in Yorkshire England, my he’s still hot’ application and she would think, ‘Jeez, the last three years haven’t been kind.’ Perhaps you shouldn’t have put me through the stress of a physical examination to check I was still deserving of a blue badge, like my MS is going to get better.


They of course agreed I was disabled – the evidence was pretty clear – and I still get to park in prime spots in the town centre in most places across the country and without even paying for the privilege [legal edit: if it’s council run and the council has a reciprocal policy for people out of the area, which most do]. Well there has to be some benefits, right? When I went away to York recently, a city where parking is generally an expensive nightmare, I was able to leave the car on the street immediately outside the hotel all weekend and it didn’t cost me a penny.


That’s the type of thing that makes me happy to utter those two words that I resisted saying for so long and to utter them in a high, loud and silly voice:


‘I’m disabled!’

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Saturday, 2 October 2021

Ramblings on Living with Multiple Sclerosis

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL (DESPITE HAVING MS)


No.2


I don’t have to feel guilty about not attempting a ridiculous physical challenge unbefitting my age.


Gordon Ramsey completed an Ironman race in his late forties. In my eyes, that’s another reason to dislike him. Certain middle-aged men love to show off their ability to hold back time. Marathons, three-peak challenges, extreme triathlons… yes, we get it, you’re still fitter than many folk in their twenties and you’re a real man.

That’s not me. Well I am a man, only I’m a man who has had multiple sclerosis for twenty years. If I was free of this chronic condition would I too be attempting one of these physical trials? Of course. I’d be chomping at the bit. Try and stop me. It’s just this blasted MS, you know.

All right, I admit it; much as I miss being able to play five-a-side football and tennis, pushing my body to the limit is not my idea of fun. I get to do that two or three times a week at the moment anyway, as a result of my personal situation. A short dog walk, even with the aid of a walking stick, or twenty minutes of gardening are all it takes for me to hit the wall. No need for a marathon for this particular middle-aged man.

So I don’t have to give any thought to whether or not I should do one of these challenges. No need to feel inferior or guilty. MS has removed that need to prove my worth.

For the same reason, I won’t be attempting any charitable exploit in the near future that involves any kind of physical test. That photo of me at the top of Kilimanjaro will not be getting posted on my Facebook site any time soon.

Oh for flips sake! Who’s this guy in the news? Captain Tom? He’s 100 and he’s forcing his way round and round his garden to raise money for the NHS. Is it churlish of me to be annoyed by his exploits? I sometimes feel like I’m 100 and I thought that gave me a free pass from this kind of thing. I guess not. Bugger.

(RIP Sir Tom)

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Ramblings on Living with Multiple Sclerosis

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL (DESPITE HAVING MS) No.3 I can park close to the shops and most times it’s free I resisted it for a long time but in ...