Wednesday, 12 October 2011


We take so much for granted. Bitter when we run for the bus and miss it, never stopping to think that 'hell, at least I can run for the sodding bus!' The little things get us down. Only when something really awful happens do we stop and gain a bit of perspective. Life isn't so bad after all.

My best friend has MS. She was diagnosed with it almost 2 years ago - after her first 'episode' (as they call it) when her foot went numb. Scans revealed lesions on the brain. She recovered, she got on with her life. Then in the summer she fell while on holiday and hurt her shoulder. She was in excruciating pain - on tonnes of painkillers and then she began to feel numb - all the way down, below her chest. It kept going and after a couple of weeks she could barely walk - she hobbled like an old woman. She went through 3 doctors, two physios and one hospital trip until she was finally referred by her GP for MRI scans. I took her to hospital and we sat for 5 long hours waiting to seen by a consultant who finally agreed an MRI scan was needed. It showed inflammation to her brain and spine. She was in hospital for a week being pumped full of steroids. I held her hand when she had to endue a lumber puncture in her spine. All she was worried about was the fact she was wearing big pink pants. I told her thank god she was wearing pants - and talked through every episode of 'The Killing' while student doctors debated how to stick a needle in her spine. I brought her cup cakes and flowers and tried to be chipper, then would go home and worry.

Eventually, when she was well enough to make the journey she went to Scotland to stay with her parents, who drove her all the way there. Last week she came back and they brought her to see me. I was shocked. She was even worse than when I had taken her to hospital, back at the end of August. She couldn't walk at all without crutches, she couldn't stand to hug me, she can't get up stairs without help. We had tea and cookies, but she had to leave as she was in so much pain. When she left I sat on my sofa reeling, wondering how on earth she had gone backwards. Turns out steroids only temporarily help. She was back to square one.

She is seeing her consultant on Friday - and has started thrice weekly physio. It seems she can go one of two ways - she can take steroids which will prevent another MS episode (there is no MS cure) and do physio, acupuncture and the like to get her mobility back. It will take months. She won't be back at work this year. Or she can try a drug that has not been trialled over here but has been used in the States - LDN. My Aunt knows a woman whose niece takes it and she has gone from wheelchair to training to be personal fitness coach. Thing is, this doesn't prevent attacks, it just helps solve one. She has no idea what to do and is trying to do as much research as she can. A nurse told her that LDN is just a placebo - that it doesn't actually work, but yet my friend has read tonnes of cases online where it has helped folk.

She is so strong it is amazing. I really am in awe of her. I pop round with the kids as they create havoc and she hugs them, pulls them to her lap and shares a joke. Occasionally her eyes water, when I say that her parents are doing a brilliant job of taking care of her and she replies 'it should be the other way around though.' I hold her hand and tell her it will all get better - that she will walk again. That there are options. Then I go home and sit in a quiet rage that this happened to her and try not to cry because that would be so weak, when she is so brave. She is my oldest friend, godmother to my kids, my bridesmaid, the girl I travelled the world with. I have known her since we were 9. In a job she once started, she had to write a biography - and I wrote it for her. She is like a sister to me. Why has this happened to her? She's had a shitty time already with a divorce and men - she needs luck and joy and she needs to bloody well be able to walk. I feel so useless. I don't know much about MS - only what I read on line. I don't know anyone who has it.

I pray for her - and honestly, I am not religious. I just want her to get well. She is probably the nicest person I know. She is kind, thoughtful - always helping others, always thinking of people. She has a great heart. She has more courage in her little finger than I have in my entire body. It saddens me that life can be so cruel - that things we take for granted can just disappear. Every day now when I get up and deal with the kids I think how lucky I am to be able to carry my daughter down the stairs, to chase my son around the house. I'm off now to look up LDN and do some research of my own. As silly as this sounds - but faithful readers, would you do something for me? Will you include my friend in your prayers?

She will walk again. Hopefully to the pub with me. When we can celebrate her health and this horrible horrible time will be a thing of the past.


A said...

Thinking of your special friend, and wishing/hoping with all my might that she makes a speedy recovery.

Thinking of you too. You're very lucky to have each other's support and friendship. x

Claire said...

Praying. x

Liz said...

I know people who used LDN. It's not used there? It seems to work, it does. But you never know what will work for one person.

I will pray for her.

Angela said...

I will absolutely pray for your friend and for you to continue to have such compassion in your heart to see the beauty within your friend.
I had a colleague with MS and regular "episodes" until she began taking some sort of injection.I recall it was refrigerated and terribly expensive but it definitely helped keep her attacks at bay. She was faithful to also take vitamin D supplements, follow a vegetarian diet with plenty of fish (and Salmon), took Fish Oil supplements and kept fit. She firmly believed her fitness enabled her to keep her strenght and form new pathways in her brain around the lesions. She was in good health when we last spoke, but sadly I have not been in touch of late.
Wishing you and your friend well, praying for strength for you both!

Anonymous said...

Busby - My love to you and you know who xoxo My mum used to work as a physio in the MS Centre - this has affliction has ups and downs and downtimes and then life can goes back to normal as to how it was and continues as though nothing is wrong and this can make it all the more cruel and trying - but knowing this girl she has the heart of a lion, a strong family and loved ones round her and no better friend than you xoxo Please send our love xo