Friday, 24 February 2012

Dignity, always dignity

Remember that bit from "Singing in the Rain" when Gene Kelly's character is being interviewed and he says "I've had one motto I've always lived by: Dignity, always dignity". You then get a clip show of how he really got to where he was standing on that red carpet, and there wasn't much dignity involved.

Anyone who lives with a disease like MS knows where this story is going. Once you get a diagnosis you start with the endless rounds of doctors visits, hospital appointments, physio sessions, and interviews with all sorts from medical professionals to students doing their thesis (our hospital is a teaching hospital). Right now you check your pride (perhaps not your dignity) at the door - just remember, the medical staff are all human and they've seen it all before.

When you have MS and you go to see the Neurology department with a relapse before they'll prescribe steroids they insist on a urine sample. I have a shy bladder... it won't do command performances. Ah, the superb occasion sitting being fed glasses of water for half an hour (didn't help) it is now famously so, that, in fact, my MS nurse has given me a supply of sample bottles so I can bring one with me. This is what started this train of thought... the Doctor who came yesterday didn't get that memo, he had to wait 24 hours for his sample. Yes, my bladder can hold it that long when it knows there is a bottle waiting!

They're always wanting to take blood. Not so bad you think. Unless you're the sort who has a needle phobia (yes, still, even though I give myself shots). When I get a blood test (every six months at least) they have to take two vials, so it is a bit of a procedure. Every time I tell the phlebotomist that the left arm is best; sometimes they listen, sometimes not. If not what happens next is that they can't find a vein, my brain realises what is going on and I pass out. Then I have to lie down while I come round, have a glass of water, and hold up the very busy phlebotomy department. Not so bad really, apart from the horror of knowing you've just added another 10 minutes to the waiting time!

MRI scans are great. No metal allowed. No jewellery, no belts, no glasses, no bras. You get to wear those hospital gowns (same if you're getting an all over Xray) which I have yet to figure how to wear with either grace, comfort or decency (happily you get to keep your knickers on!).

A lot of the time finds you lying on those awful tables (someone should invent one like a dentist chair that can be hydraulically lowered and raised) with or without various articles of clothing whilst you are poked and prodded.

Neurology also specialises in some super tests - which if you're in neurology in the first place your probably going to fail. I'd also be in big trouble if I was in America and pulled over on suspicion of DUI as they seem to be the same tests! Some of these are really hard even if your brain doesn't need a neurologist! 
  • walk heel to toe in a straight line along the room 
  • now do it backwards
  • put your feet right together and stand upright
  • now do it with you eyes shut
  • close your eyes, put your arms out to your sides and touch your nose with both index fingers
Remember, you're not allowed to fall over at any point!

It's not bad, it mostly (except for blood tests or falling over) doesn't hurt. Just sometimes though, when you're lying on a hard couch with stiff paper under you and over you and your trousers folded somewhere on a chair, you have to take a step back (in your head, of course) and laugh.


  1. Nat - I was very moved reading this and am so full of admiration for how bravely and stoically you cope with MS. Its very inspiring and my little Alice has such a wonderful role model in you.
    I've only just read some of your MS blog posts (believe it or not I've only just discovered the world of blogs - actually v believable of techno-idiot me!) but I did love the comment about holding the red wine in your left hand in "Things I have learned from MS".

  2. Welcome to the world of blogs Liz! It's a wonderful friendly place :0)

    Thanks for your kind words. I'll do my best for Alice as a role model :0)

  3. Hooray I managed to post a message (didn't expect to create a blog on the way...might even get round to blogging at some point!).