Diary of an Author with Multiple Sclerosis

For any writer looking for a useful blog about writing and the craft of writing, there is any number of excellent blogs dedicated to exactly that. As a formerly aspiring writer, I have thrown my hat in with those people – well, insofar as posting links and tips that I have found that helped me as a writer – you will have to judge the quality for yourselves.

What do I have that makes me different? Well, nothing really; I write, I edit, I write some more. But I do have something that many (but by no means all) do not have: I have a disability. I have Multiple Sclerosis.

For those that don’t know Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the NHS describes it:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of symptoms including problems with muscle movement, balance and vision.

Each nerve fibre in the brain and spinal cord is surrounded by a layer of protein called myelin, which protects the nerve and helps electrical signals from the brain travel to the rest of the body. In MS, the myelin becomes damaged.

This disrupts the transfer of these nerve signals, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, such as:

  • loss of vision – usually only in one eye
  • spasticity – muscle stiffness that can lead to uncontrolled muscle movements
  • ataxia – difficulties with balance and co-ordination
  • fatigue – feeling very tired during the day

Writing with MS is a challenge. In particular, these are some of the challenges I face, relating to my writing:

Coordination – I have reduced coordination in my upper limbs, so typing is quite demanding, as is hitting all the right keys. Thank goodness for spell checking.

Eyesight difficulties – Whilst I am still able to see quite well, sometimes, particularly when I am tired, it is almost as if someone has pointed a very bright light at the screen, making it difficult to read.

Thinking – Sometimes my thinking is ‘clouded.’ Imagine taking a trip. You know where you are and you know the destination, but the bits in between don’t always connect. Like moving from the start of a story through to the conclusion – sometimes the pieces don’t always make sense.

Fatigue – One of the more challenging symptoms. In an ideal world, I’d be able to get up early in the morning, write a few hundred words, go to work (the work that pays me), then come home and write into the evening. Really difficult when you wake up feeling like you’ve run back-to-back marathons. NaNoWriMo sounds great, but realistically, would I have the energy?

There are many more challenges I face on a daily basis that indirectly impact on my writing, but I will tackle them over the course of this series as they occur to me. I’m hoping this will get me into a regular writing habit, assisting with my writing in general, and along the way I’ll share some of those challenges.

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