Remembering life before MS diagnosis

hospital bangor hospital walton                        Gwynedd Hospital, Bangor, and the Walton Centre, Liverpool.

Just the other day, someone asked me what my life was like before I had MS – to which I replied that I had the illness some 25+ years before it was diagnosed in the spring of 2002. I asked her what she wanted to know and she said all of it.

Here’s what I told her:

I was diagnosed with grand mal epilepsy in 1972 after suffering my first seizure in the newspaper office where I worked as a reporter. No trouble knowing what it was as my brother, 11 years older than me, had had it for many years. He was more susceptible, though, and had many seizures until one that led to his death at the age of 48. On the other hand, medication has mine completely under control and free of seizures since 1976.

In 1974 I contracted glandular fever, a horrible and painful encounter that I would never want to experience again. Apart from those, and the usual childhood illnesses of measles, chicken pox and mumps, I was generally fit. I played hockey (field) for a club team on Saturday afternoons, refereed football (soccer) matches on Sunday mornings and, in the summer played for a cricket club on Sunday afternoons.

My first symptoms, at least those that were obvious to me, that something was not quite right were in 1983.  At the time I lived in London and, one cold Sunday morning in January, I was standing outside a market when I noticed that my right foot was cold as it should be – but that my left could not feel the cold. I also noticed some ‘pins and needles’ in my left arm and leg.

As one of the company benefits was private healthcare, I consulted the company doctor who arranged some consultations for me in London’s Harley Street, renowned for its concentration of private doctors.

After a couple of consultations and a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) that proved negative, I was advised not to cross my legs or lean on my elbows. I still don’t.

logo scoutlogo clear st john copyLife went on. I spent 10+ years as a volunteer leader in the Scouts followed by another 10 as a volunteer with St John Ambulance.

My left leg began playing up in around 2000 and in early 2002 I also realised my left leg could not be lifted as far as my right. I went to my GP who referred me to our local hospital at Bangor, North Wales, and soon was in the care of a consultant neurologist. Lots of questions and answers, a visit to the Walton Centre specialist neurology unit in Liverpool and, finally, an MRI scan.

You can read about the next stage in a permanent page on my website: D-Day: MS diagnosed




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