Happy Sunday! Here’s part 3 of my diagnosis story. It’s sixteen years in my past, but it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. This week, I go back to work. Fun, Fun, Fun.
I sat on my settee with my head in my hands, staring through my fingers at the floor. Although some of the details of this phase of my life are foggy, this bit I remember with crystal clarity: As I looked at the pattern on the carpet, It looked as if I was zooming at high speed towards it, falling into a deep and endless hole. It was like looking at an optical illusion on YouTube, with circles spiraling into the screen, changing colours. Then, after staring at it for 30 seconds, you look away at some distant object, the room door, the windowsill, or something outside the window and marvel at how reality seems to be changing, with the objects in the foreground and background moving simultaneously toward and away from you. That’s the best way I can describe it. Except this was not fun, and I did not do much marveling.
I was at work the following day, and again, this is another vivid memory I have of that part of my life. I think, that if I had not gone back to work two weeks previously, I would never have gone back, and my life would have gone in a very different direction.
When I got in to work, everyone said hello, as usual, and I sat at my desk, and turned on my computer. I worked for a bit, then got up and went into a meeting room that we had and closed the door. I sat down and pulled out my phone, and called my manager.
He had known that I was going to hospital the previous day, and I had said I would let him know how things went. I told him my diagnosis and was greeted by silence. After a moment or two, he came back with ‘oh”.
After I had finished the discussion with my manager, I called one of my best friends, who also knew I was getting my results the previous day. His reaction was a lot more measured, and we talked for a while. I remember saying that it was ‘only’ multiple sclerosis, and that I was not dying, and that he should not worry. I tried to sound jovial and upbeat, but what actually happened was that a few minutes into our conversation, my voice started noticeably cracking, and then I started to cry as I spoke to him.
I knew he was at work, so I didn’t want to keep him too long, but he said it was no problem, and after a few more minutes of talking, we were both crying. I thanked him for his concern, left the conversation and went back to work. I can’t remember much of anything that happened beyond those conversations, but I still remember those two.
Next up on my list of things to do, was to tell my parents. I have always had a close relationship with both my mum and dad, so when I called them and asked if my wife and I could come over, they said of course we could, but I could hear the doubt in their voice: why can’t he tell us over the phone?
My sister in law came over to look after my three-year-old daughter, and my wife and I went to my parent’s house.
I sat on the floor holding my wife’s hand as my parents sat on the settee, waiting for me to tell them the news. I explained the diagnosis and then left it to my wife to explain what that means in real terms. I finished with “it’s ok. I am still here”.
My mum had started to cry and said my dad’s name as I told her, as if he could somehow make it all go away. He has done many fantastic things for me in my life to this point and has continued to do them since, but this one was out of his control. I looked at him, and he was crying too.
This was not good, because I was trying really hard to remain composed, to put a positive spin on things. Having to tell your parents that you have a degenerative condition is not an easy task, and they were not making it any easier. I had shared my problem with my wife and both my parents, and now it was a problem that all four of us had, it didn’t feel halved or quartered.
That was my first two days following diagnosis. I went to bed that evening feeling like I had been hit by a train. I was physically and mentally drained, and sleep, surprisingly, came quickly.
That was when the dreams started.
That’s all for this part. I’ll get to the next part next Sunday.