One of the worst things about multiple sclerosis is that you effectively become an old person, almost overnight. The day before you are diagnosed you are a young person with a bit of an undefined problem; the day after diagnosis you are an old man or woman, risk averse and anxious, obsessed with every pain in your body.
This week I have discovered it’s the same with backache.
For those people who don’t have it backache is a bit of a joke. It is the condition of the work-shy and the lazy.
But not so. Or, at least, not always so. Just because you can’t see the protruding disc or the torn muscle or the worn joint doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. A lot.
My lower back pain came on mysteriously two days ago. I made a cup of tea, I got a touch of backache, then I locked up in a spasm that made me crumple at the waist and slump to my knees, from which position it was almost impossible to get up. I was lucky to have been felled near to solid furniture, or I would be there still!
So now my body is feeling about 90 years old, what with the havoc wrought by MS and a seriously bad back. A left hook to the head followed by a right jab in the kidneys. I’m against the ropes, but not quite on the floor
It is too early for the referee to start counting me out. But the temptation to give up and fall to the floor is really strong. Just to shut my eyes. There doesn’t seem to be much point in struggling to my feet, only to be thumped again.
But it’s not as simple as that, is it? If I give up now I might not get up again. Lack of movement will lead to muscle wastage. Muscle wastage will lead to the wheelchair, sure as eggs is eggs.
A friend of mine – a writer, actor, director and musician of considerable talent, died last week. He had a particularly cruel and aggressive form of MS, and it makes me sad and grateful that mine is, to an extent, under control. The death of a friend and the collapse of my back remind me of the tightrope I’m walking
I’m aware that I’m mixing my metaphors here. Is life a boxing match, or a high wire act? It is both. Boxing, or acrobatics, on the edge of a soup plate is no fun. It’s important not to shut my eyes. If I give up the slide into the soup is inevitable.
For all the positive thinking and cheerful acceptance, I still hope my back gets better. At least enough to keep typing!