What the ……!

Although I only got diagnosed a week ago, it is obvious that I’ve had MS for about fifteen years, it is just that in the past few months it has grown into an embuggerance.  This week has been a learning curve and, oh boy, have  I’ve learnt a lot.

Did you know MS is like pregnancy?

Stop gasping and giggling and stay with me… when you are pregnant and it is becoming obvious, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers will comment on your condition and amongst them will be the DOOMSAYER. This person will either themselves have been in labour for a hundred and fifty hours and suffered the agonies of the damned or they will be closely related to someone who has. Naturally this tale of unrelenting torture will inspired the first time mother with wonderful, soothing confidence and ensure she will look forward eagerly to her own labour.

As my child bearing days are far behind me (and BTW, I shoved babies out with no problem at all), I thought I would be free from the DOOMSAYER, but I was so, so wrong. Just as in pregnancy, they will know another person with MS and they have been confined to a wheelchair for years, they are blind, unable to swallow and suffering terribly in equally vile circumstances and for some reason they are always years younger than me! I’m not sure why being younger is such a vital detail, but apparently it is.

Why do this? Why with solemn expressions of deep concern do some feel the need to frighten the living daylights out of the vulnerable and gullible? I’m immune to this rubbish, I’ve done my research and while, as any soldier will tell you no plan survives the first encounter with the enemy, he will also tell you no intellgence work is every wasted. I’m prepared and I know that Mr and Mrs Doomsayer adore embellishing, if they can add extra beads, some glitter and a ribbon, they are as happy as pigs in muck!

The other interesting thing I have found is ignorance. You would have though after “The West Wing” and other programmes, most people would have a nodding acquaintance with the condition, but again, the scales of preconceived ideas have fallen from my eyes, at least one person has patted me gently on the arm and hoped I will be better soon!!!!!  I’m expecting a “get well” card and will be disappointed if it doesn’t come.

On a more positive note, I feel surprisingly well. I put this down to my having stopped fighting. I’ve stopped trying to do thing the way I used to do things and begun to do them the way I can do them. I’ve stopped trying to walk as I used to and slowed to the pace my body likes, surprisingly I can go further slowly than I could when I was trying to be normal. If I’m tired I don’t fight it, I rest and don’t feel so wrecked as a result and if I’m in pain I throw painkillers down my throat like sweeties and don’t give a damn about possible side effects.

Soon I am off for a long MRI and an appointment with the neurologist. I have made a list of questions ( research, research, research) and with the answers I hope I will be armed and ready for the campaign ahead. One thing I do know is that I will carry on writing and quilting for as long as I possibly can. I’ve got a Mrs Lillicrop story on the boil, two books telling me they would like to be written and someone said they will hit me with a heavy object if I don’t write a sequel to “The Tattooed Tribes”, plus I need to produce at least two excellent quilts for exhibition in 2020.

“Second star on the right and straight on until morning” people 🙂

 

 

Hurrah, Hurrah MS

Weird title I know, but bear with me.

The first thing you need to know about me is that I have the self worth of a house brick. The reasons for it are ancient and boring, but my default position on almost everything is “its my fault.”  So when I started to have trouble walking I put it down to spending way to much time at a computer screen….so it was my fault. When I started to get blurred vision, again it was too long looking at a screen, so it was my fault.

I’ve always been a big girl, dieting was a series of yo-yo events (although I have now found one that works and stays working), but I am overweight and as all the doctors and the media tell us, being overweight is the cause of many problems. So my increasing dependence on walking sticks, the pain in my legs, the burning sensations and the inability to raise one of my feet was my weight, my lack of moral fibre made me fat so all of that was my fault!

Then my bladder got to be a problem, but I’ve had two babies and everyone knows natural childbirth can bugger up the water works if you don’t do your pelvic exercises afterwards. Obviously I hadn’t done them enough, so equally obviously all this was, as usual, my fault.

Why, you ask, didn’t you take all this to your doctor? Because they might look at me with pitying contempt, then they would sigh and give me another diet sheet and tell me I needed more physiotherapy despite the amount I’ve done over the years. Obviously I’d not done enough or done it properly and who do we think is at fault for that. I couldn’t face hearing someone with knowledge confirming everything, all the time I stayed away, shoved pain killers down my throat and shut myself in the downstairs cloakroom to cry, the safer I was from the accusatory finger, the sad shaking of the head and the unspoken “what the hell did you expect, you stupid woman!”

At this point I must add a point and a confession…the point is that about fifteen years ago I started having a problem with my right eye…only the right. I had an MRI and was diagnosed with optical neuritis. I lost thirty percent of my field of vision and ended up red/green colour blind in that eye, but that was all…no-one said anything else, no specialist or GP said anything about it, but I googled it and found a reference to it being a possible symptom of multiple sclerosis, but I had no other symptoms, so put it down as “one of those things.” I’m not a believer in the benefits of Dr Google, I think you can put in what you think is wrong with you and a common virus can come up as Ebola and scare the daylights out of you, so I don’t do it. .

Now the confession, despite what I just said, in the last few months I have been putting in what is wrong with me and the same answer has kept coming up

I think I can hear a number of you muttering “oh, for god’s sake!” at this point and, dear reader, you would not be alone, the person screaming “for god’s sake, woman!” the loudest is the wonderful man I’ve been married to for more years than I will admit here, but and its a big but as far as I’m concerned , that little voice inside me which is repeating its mantra of “don’t be silly, you know its not that, its all your fault, if you had sat on a better chair, if you had blinked more, if you had lost weight, if you had done the exercises etc etc

However, his screaming finally got louder than the bloody voice in my head and he got me to the doctor and yesterday we got the result.

I have MS.

I sat in the surgery and couldn’t stop crying, not because I’ve got MS, that is what Terry Pratchett called “an embuggerance”, but because none of it is my fault, NONE of it, there is nothing I have done which caused this and I need feel no guilt. I cry for joy and I think my doctor is going to add this to her “days for my memories” as she said, it isn’t often you tell someone they have MS and they are delighted.

I know for a lot of people this news would be devastating, but I’m not young and my children are long since grown up and are not dependent on me, so it is no more than the afore said embuggerance. I know there will be difficulties , but my husband is looking forward to a blue badge and me being in a wheelchair, so we go in the direction he wants to go and I’m not wandering off somewhere and I have my eye on a snazzy mobility scooter which I will use to plough a path through town.

I have MS, hurrah!

 

 

Goodbye Dolly Gray

Many conflicts have a song or a tune which has come to symbolise it, WW1 and “Tipperary” comes to mind, as does “Brighton Camp” for the Napoleonic Wars and for the Boer War the popular song was “Goodbye Dolly Gray”.

These days two great wars have separated us from conflict in South Africa which dominated the years bridging the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but it was a hugely influential time. It was the first time The Empire was really challenged and it was the first “popular” war, when men flooded to the colours in a rush of patriotism.

The short comings of the army which were shown up by the tenacity and courage of the Boers led to the reforms which would produce the BEF which went to France in 1914.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because a while ago we were approached by a lady who was the owner of a diary, or at least part of a previously unpublished diary from the Boer War and she wondered if we as representatives of The Victorian Military Society would be interested in it. It covered a year of his service in South Africa during 1900.

What she gave us was a day by day account of an ordinary soldier on campaign and I have had the privilege of being one of the transcribers and it has been a riveting and fascinating insight into the life of an ordinary man who lived in extraordinary times. Someone once said that war is long periods of tedium punctuated by short moments of terror, Charlie (author of the diary), was a very lucky man, because all he got for the duration of the diary was the tedium.

So why was this so interesting?

What has made transcribing this document so enthralling?

And why is The VMS going to be publishing it?

Because while there are endless accounts of battles and officers careers, there are very few about the day to day life of a ranker at this time. Charlie tells us what they ate and what they thought of it. Where they slept and what they did to entertain themselves. He also tells us what he thought of the great events which were taking place near him or which he got news about. Views which are often very modern in their outlook.

We know a bit about Charlie Holmes, gleaned from odd bits and pieces he mentions. He was a reservist, called back to the colours and had served in the Far East. We know where he was born and when, but what we don’t know for certain is if his surnames was Holmes. As if often the case when searching military records, the one you want is missing.

“The Boer War Diary of Charlie Holmes” will be out soon.

The picture is an Imperial Yeoman c.1900 courtesy of “Scarlet Gunner”.

Boer War

 

 

The Pipes! The Pipes!

Today I come to a controversial subject and one which divides people like no other…bagpipes.

Once upon a time someone thought “Its a pity to waste this animal’s stomach, why don’t we shove a couple of hollow reeds in it and see if we can make a noise” And so the bagpipe was born and I bet my last chocolate biscuit people have been arguing about the resulting sound ever since.

As far as I can see they come in two types, one where the bag is inflated by pumping and the other by blowing. My eldest goddaughter (Hi Lyndz) playing Northumberland pipes where she inflates the bag by means of some sort of bellows she works under one arm…don’t ask me for details, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I have enormous respect for anyone who can make music.

On the other hand, Scots and Irish pipes are inflated by the pipers blowing into the bag.

Either way, the music comes when the air is squeezed out of the tubes. That the full extent of my grasp of the technical details.

How either of them manage to squeeze, blow and run their fingers up and down the holes in the reeds is a mystery to me, but thank god they can, because I love both versions, it sends shivers down my spine and brings a lump to my throat. I will admit I prefer Northumberland pipes in a confines space as the other sort can make the wax in your ears melt if they are played close by.

My Faran mercenaries love the sound of the pipes with one single exception. Stopping his pipers play is on of Lord Darach’s chief objects in life and as he is the boss, he gets his own way much of the times, but even he can’t stop them all the time.

“The Lord of the Faran Hills”

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B072R61BJS
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B072R61BJS

Soldiers of Fortune

“The Lord of the Faran Hills” is now live on Amazon.

Huzzah!

The soldiers in the book are mercenaries, but before you recoil in horror, its worth remembering not all soldiers of fortune are without merit.

Our own much loved Brigade of Gurkhas are technically mercenaries, they are foreign nationals we employ to fight for us and they are the pattern of honourable service I used for my troops.

Farans might fight because they are paid to fight, but that is all they do, they don’t turn on the civilian population causing as much or even more misery than the supposed enemy, unlike the many examples who ravaged Europe during the 14th and 15thC.

When fighting is your profession, you obviously take a keen interest in developments in the tools of your trade. At the beginning of the book Lord Darach and his men rely on swords, crossbows and the pike, they know about “gonnes”, they just aren’t convinced about their reliability or flexibility, but when offered the advancement of the musket, they will be among the first of their kind to exploit its potential.

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B072R61BJS

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B072R61BJS