Some Tough News: A Diagnosis and a Challenge

Some Tough News: A Diagnosis and a Challenge August 14, 2018

I’m going to come clean in this piece on why I haven’t been posting as often as I would like and why some of my articles have arguably been of less depth than they might otherwise have been. I will start by posting what I did to Facebook yesterday:

Since I have had to make announcements to my football team that I manage, I guess it’s time to say… I have an apology to make and an explanation as to why I am now going to venture onto an essentially vegan diet. Apologies first. A few years ago, I took up squash again and started playing against Jon XXX and Andy XXX. I wasn’t able to play up to my usual standards of being a natural athlete ™ due to complaints about not being able to feel the ends of my fingers and lacking coordination and getting dizzy. I put it down to getting older. After a few years, and eventually playing my old head at squash, and being utterly useless, I took time away from it. Indeed, I haven’t phoned Jon to play in some 6 months. Sorry for being incommunicado.

I’ve always been one to look for causal explanations as to why things happen, especially when I play badly at a sport. It sounds like excuses, but when I know my normal expectations and fall short, I ask myself why. Yes, I gave excuses, but it turns out they were real.

To add to this, I felt really uncoordinated whilst playing football during training sessions for the team I manage. I felt a bit embarrassed when training with some of the dads that I looked like a totally inept footballer. Sorry Tony XXX et al. I did my Level 1 coaching qualification and had to sit out of some of the drills through dizziness. I couldn’t stand on one leg and stretch without help.

When I starting feeling fatigued and realising my memory wasn’t quite good enough and words were beyond my immediate grasp on occasion, I knew something was up. These and a number of other symptoms.

Cut a long story short, one thing explained them all; given Occam’s Razor and probability, it was more likely there was only one thing rather than 8 separate reasons as to why my symptoms were so. With a trip to the GP, I was referred to a neurologist. I couldn’t get an NHS appointment in October.

That sucked.

Thanks to my very generous parents, I was able to secure a consultation privately. I was pretty certain I knew what was going on. He gave me a physical examination and said I was OK and that it was most probably stress. I know my mind really, really well. I spend too much time mulling over my own existence and my own cognitive abilities. He said it might still be worth having an MRI in any case, so I did.

Turns out I’ve got multiple sclerosis.

Which sucks.

I got the letter this last Saturday and haven’t even seen my doctor yet about it. Anyway, I guess I’ve been deteriorating for some 3 or 4 years in very slight ways. There has recently been a tipping point, though, and I have deteriorated much more quickly over the last few months. I often walk like I’m drunk and typing is very tough without doing a million tpyos.

I still maintain I would have easily beaten both Andy and Jon at peak fitness with consummate. It was definitely the MS…

So one thing I am changing is my diet, as advice goes. It’s mainly vegan, which is morally fab. Big fan from a philosophical point of view. From the point of view of scotch egg eating…

It sucks.

At least I can tell people how morally superior I am than them. That, I look forward to. Anyway, I just thought I’d let the world know, not from a “poor me” point of view, but to explain why I have been a bit insular of late, haven’t played squash and might not be on top cognitive form going forward. Just a bit of forward planning. >>>>>>>Please don’t take this as one of those facebook appeals for sympathy. <<<<<< However…

Everything I have said about Brexit and God is definitely still right, though. One doesn’t exist, and the other shouldn’t. Heh.

As for my job and writing, going forward I just don’t know. I haven’t looked into the details yet, but we did take out Critical Illness Cover at some expense some years ago. Wow, can I ever advise that as a good idea!! I’ll take one week at a time and react to things as I need.

I need to spend more time, with more patience (that has been badly affected, let me tell you!) with my family, enjoying everything I have. I’ll have to strip back things I do and avoid stress and exhausting myself. Prognosis is pretty good these days for MS, so as long as I do everything right, I could be fine. I’m cool in myself as I was pretty certain I had it anyway. Heck, I even joked two years ago with Jon during a squash match that I might have it!

I still need total confirmation from another neurologist on the NHS, and a probable lumbar puncture. I am already seeing an NHS neuro-physio who has done lots of benchmarking (I have little or no skin feeling in fingers hands, stomach, left leg, toes), ataxia and all sorts of things going on.

Anyway, enough whingeing. Look out for my next talk: The Philosophy of MS and how it Disproves the Existence of God and Shows that Brexit Is Madness. I also look forward to complaining about how underfunded the NHS is…

I thought it would do just as well to reproduce that piece here for you to give you some kind of explanation. There’s no point doubling up on these things! I can’t overestimate the gratitude I have for the wealth of wonderful and supportive things so very many people have said on the threads there. Quite overwhelming.

I guess I’ll post a number of times on this in the coming few weeks. But, for the time being, I guess I need to explain what will go on around here. First and foremost, I don’t want anything to really change here. I fully intend to continue blogging as much as I can. I am stripping back some of the things in my life, but writing is a really important part of who I am and I don’t want to lose that. As long as my cognitive faculties allow for it, I will continue to write both blogs and books. However, I have to admit that my short-term memory is less than it was and my ability to concentrate and focus is less than it was, as well as having deficits in language selection. Therefore, writing is definitely more difficult for me than it ever has been. I apologise upfront to you if the quality of what I post drops in any way (or has already dropped). I know that I have allowed far too many typos to go through into my pieces because I have been completely unable to feel the ends of my fingers (and more) and typing is bloody difficult, and my proofing has not been as good as it should have been. Thanks for your patience there – please continue to let me know if things get through. I’ve been trying to use speech to text to differing levels of success. That is where I continuing to concentrate my efforts.

I also want to take this opportunity to ask people if they would like to help contribute to the blog. There are so many great commenters and lurkers here at ATP and if any of you fancy writing some pieces for me, then let me know. In the months ahead, I will need as much help as I can get! As ever comma Amy huge thanks to those who already do contribute here. Bert, especially, is an absolute trooper.

Things will definitely and without doubt get more challenging for me as my condition will most probably progress. With spirits high and the right approach to evidence-based treatments for multiple sclerosis, I will give myself the best chance of halting any progression or slowing it down. The universe can be such a wonderful thing. But more often than not, it can throw you a curveball and be a right pain in the arse.

Finally, a massive heartfelt thanks to all of you who have built such a fine community here. I really do appreciate you.

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