Friday, August 07, 2009

Bad times, good times

The bad news first.

A week ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an incurable condition with an uncertain progression and prognosis. It wasn't a surprise. I have been feeling 'not quite right' for maybe eight years, have had various tests, with minor symptoms being attributed to stress or the side effects of drugs. All of this seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, I have no complaints about my medical treatment. But this time I had tingling in my face, my GP suspected MS, was honest enough to say so and refer me on. That was at the end of June.

After a more recent week-long convoluted story involving two hospital A&E departments and an MRI scanner, my consultant neurologist broke the news. I was just thankful it wasn't a brain tumour, which was the other possibility. At the moment I have severe double vision, because the muscles in my eyes are not working together. I can't drive, I'm walking with a stick, feeling very weak and wobbly, and I need patched glasses just to function. I know this is just a bad relapse, part and parcel of MS. I am already better than I was, it should all improve further with time.

But all this was forgotten yesterday when my Open University results came out. I got the grade I had hoped for in my Advanced Creative Writing course, not a distinction but the next best thing. As a result I am now the proud owner of a Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing, as well as an Open Degree with 2.1 Honours ( due to the eclectic mix of courses I have studied I can take this as either a BA or BSc. I think I will go for the BSc, despite the strong creative writing content, as I already have a BA!)

There is a wonderful symmetry here. I initially joined the OU ten years ago to study one course in Health and Social Care, in order to better understand the systems we would be fighting because of son 2's autism. I had no intention of going on to do another degree, but due to my kids' special needs over the last four years I found myself stuck at home with a need for distraction from a lot of stress. I went back to the OU and found a new direction and validation with the OU creative writing courses, making a dream into a reality. I have learned so many practical writing skills, I have been published and I will continue writing, not just as a means of one day hopefully perhaps making a little pocket money, but above all to enjoy a 'career' which can fit around not only my role as a carer but now also my own future health needs.

I hope the best is yet to come.


Casdok said...

I too hope the best is yet to come for you.
So sorry to hear of your MS, but relieved it wasnt a tumour.

Many congratulations on your diploma, even more so as you have achieved this with MS and whilst fighting and caring for your sons.
You are made of strong stuff so i hope you do find a career that fits you.

CL Taylor said...

Oh Cathy, so sorry to hear about the MS but, like Casdok, am really relieved it wasn't a tumour. Do you know what kind of MS it is? A friend's father was diagnosed several years ago and everyone was very upset initially but he seems to be managing it well and still goes on walking holidays (albeit with a stick) and camping holidays and seems to be enjoying life whenever I see him. I hope it's the same for you - more periods of good health than bad.

Many, many congratulations on your degree and diploma. What are you going to do with your time now? ;) xx

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about your MS. You seemed so well at the Birmingham meeting, I had no idea. At least you now know what the problem is, and thank god it wasn't cancer. I really hope that it manifests itself in the mildest form possible. Or not at all.

Congratulations, you're now a scientist like me! Good luck with your future ventures.

Anne Brooke said...

Here here to Casdok's comments, and indeed the other comments too.

Many many congrats on that degree - and may long periods of good health be yours.

Big love & hugs


Cathy said...

Casdok - thanks honey, I hope your week hasn't been too stressful for you or C.

Calistro - it is lovely to hear positive reports. My consultant has mentioned more than once that due to my age and the fact I have had 3 years between 'episodes' I may end up having the mildest benign version, but right now it doesn't feel like that! I'll just have to wait and see how it progresses.

Cap'n B - Birmingham was the day after I first visited the GP. I did mention it to a few people but didn't want to lower the mood. And yes I felt well that day!

Anne - thank you and thanks also for your help at the end of my course xx

HelenMWalters said...

Yes, the best is yet to come. You've achieved so much. So many reasons to be proud.

Andrea said...

Cathy, I'm sure the best is yet to come.
I'm relieved for you that it isn't a tumour. And I'm sorry to hear of your diagnosis. Seeing all you've achieved through the past 8 years coping unknowingly with the disease I can only believe that your consultant is right and you have a 'mild' version that you will deal with with the same inner strength and determination that you have handle everything else life has thrown at you.
A huge congratulations on your diploma. I hope you're taking time to reflect on the achievement and be proud of how far you've come. May the career you hope for eventuate.

Jenny Beattie said...

Big hugs to you Cathy. Jjx

Jenny Beattie said...

PS And congratulations on the degree and diploma. Bloomin' marvellous.

Helen said...

Cathy I am late catching up on your news. I can only reiterate what has already been said about your MS. Hugs to you.

Fabulous news on the degree. So impressed. x