Being newly diagnosed with MS brings a huge head rush of emotions which need to be dealt with and over the last nine months I think I have gone through the seven stages of grief at being told this monster is now living and thriving in my body like some sort of parasitic alien.
I’ve clumsily dealt with:
1. Shock and denial
2. Pain and guilt
3. Anger and bargaining
4. Depression, reflection, loneliness
5. The upward turn
6. Reconstruction and working through
7. Acceptance and hope
It all sounds very American and therapy-like but it is exactly what I’ve been (and still occasionally find myself) dealing with to get my head around the fact that just as I live and breathe, so MS is part of me (despite my absolute hatred for it).
But I’ve now found that I have become... well to put it bluntly... a bit of an old bag when anyone close to me starts moaning that they’re not feeling very well.
Be it a few little sniffles to a full on bout of flu, I simply cannot find it in me to be all that sympathetic.
To be fair, even before my old friend MS made itself known to me, I kind of stood in the ‘tough love’ category of caring for my nearest and dearest when they were struck down with a bug. I was pretty good for a day or two, making the right sympathetic noises, making caring cups of tea and chicken soup and even resorted to forcing the patient to rest while I did everything. However this soft side of me never ever lasted longer than 48 hours and then I would start demanding they got up, had a wash and went for a walk to get some fresh air.
But now I simply cannot stand listening to anyone moaning they feel under the weather.
If someone starts blowing their nose noisily into a tissue, I feel disgusted by them.
If someone complains about having a headache, I throw some paracetamol at them.
If someone dares mention that they feel cold and shivery, I snap grouchily “Put a jumper on then!”
I’ve lost patience with the patients.
And it’s actually not a very nice thing.
All they want is some sympathetic words, someone to look after them for a few days, for the heating to be turned up... All I want is for them to go away and don’t come back until they have stopped whinging.
I just can stop myself from thinking: “YOU’VE NO IDEA WHAT FEELING ROUGH IS!”
I can’t bring myself to empathise with them because in truth I am jealous that all they’ve got is a cold. That all they’ve got is a temperature. That all they’ve got is a cough. And that in a few days or weeks time they will be completely well again.
Because this is all I want – to be completely well again. MS has other ideas.