Thursday, 9 June 2011

Tempting fate

It’s June 9th. My late mother’s birthday and exactly two years since I was taken into hospital in an ambulance to be followed, about nine days later, by receiving DX.

I think it’s important to celebrate birthdays. When we do, we honour the mother who gave birth to us. Birthdays are a commemoration of their hard work and celebration of the life they gave us. As well as always doing this on my own birthday, I mentally mark my mum’s birthday each year. She died in April 2005 but today is her birthday.

My dad died on my youngest nephew’s birthday in 2008. I was there when he died. In some ways the anniversary of dad’s death has more significance to me than my mother’s. I’m not sure why.

Now I partly want to celebrate a personal anniversary. In the last two difficult years, I have had pseudoexacerbations of MS symptoms but I have not had another relapse. I’m tempting fate by saying that.

(for more info on relapses click here)

Perhaps unusually for an actor, I’m not particularly superstitious. But I do automatically display some aspects – saying ‘touch wood’ to ward off bad luck, being reluctant to talk about a job I’ve auditioned for until the outcome is known, saying ‘have a good one’ rather than ‘good luck’ to fellow actors (I rarely say the corny ‘break a leg’), sleeping with a script next to me so the lines can go into my head overnight. I don’t remember when I started doing the latter but that (along with carrying the script with me, even on a very long tour) seems to work for me.

Despite my poor memory, I do remember what happened on 9 June 2009. The shift in the pain, the phone call, the doctor telling me to dial 999, the paramedics checking it wasn’t my heart but saying I had to go to hospital, the ambulance trip, the woman in ER asking in accusing tones why I was there.

It took many tests to reach the DX. Each day I didn’t know what the next test would be. Friends would arrive to visit only for me to be whisked away for a mammogram, a CT scan, MRI. Then, after DX, there were still more tests – could I walk? could I wash myself? could I cook a mushroom omelette?!

I felt like I was at school but there were no prizes for passing a test. Mind you, I did get a lot of congratulations on the ward for completing the cooking test and they didn’t even have to eat the results.

So two years on, I am almost getting used to my RRMS. I still smile wryly at the registrar’s opinion that MS was a better condition to be diagnosed with than the other two possibilities - brain tumour or infection.

I am bemused by but grateful for friends with Primary Progressive MS saying they think it must be much worse living with the uncertainties of RRMS. It certainly is difficult not knowing how I will be day to day, hour to hour. And not knowing when I might have another relapse. Or how I will be during and after that relapse.

But I take my DMD. I strive to live healthily. I work. I sleep. I drink water. I eat (sometimes).
I have not had a relapse.

Let’s tempt fate and celebrate two years without relapse. Now, where’s a black cat when you need one?


  1. You have a great attitude Toots! Accentuating the positive is often difficult to do when living with MS. I am glad to hear you have not relapsed..."knocking on wood".


  2. You may smile wryly but that's because you didn't fully realise just how serious the other possibility was. Here's to the next two years.


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