Consistency has never been my strong point. As a matter of fact I couldn’t tell you what my strong points are. Routine has to be the order of the day. But I routinely fall out of routine. Once out, I claw myself back into a routine until I fall back out of it again. My brain generally dictates what I should do. Not the part of the brain that knows stuff though. For me it’s the part that feels fuzzy that tells me what to do. By fuzzy I mean a dizziness in my brain and black spots that are permanently in my vision becoming more prominent. When I feel fuzzy I really try to eat well and exercise regularly until the fuzziness subsides. Then once I feel refreshed and back on track I get complacent and put off exercising and indulge in whatever food I like or even have a few gargles – it’s grand I’ll make up for it tomorrow (but I never do).
It might seem tame to some people to hear someone complaining about over indulging or having a few lazy days or weeks. But this is me being complacent. I should know enough about MS and my own body and mind to know not to take my own good health and mindset for granted. I rarely go on nights out with friends but when I do they end up being excessive. I remember very little and my body takes days to recuperate. A problem that comes with age, I know. Generally I can go for weeks or months even without having a drink and it doesn’t bother me. That’s the problem, it’s all or nothing, there’s no moderation. I need to reassess my relationship with food and drink – something I’ve needed to do for a long time but with the affects of MS ever-looming I need to be more disciplined.
I loosely follow the OMS diet. I’ve cut out red meat and anything with coconut in it. I try to eat as natural food as possible. Popeye was definitely onto something with his spinach fetish. I’m aware that saturated fats aren’t good for me but I’ve yet to educate myself enough to know what are good fats and what are bad. I have a general idea that seems to be working for me so far (just about).
Because of my previous experience of MS and now that I’m a dad I get annoyed with myself for being inconsistent in how I combat MS. Fatigue is arguably my biggest obstacle but sometimes I don’t know if I’m just not trying hard enough. When first diagnosed I was led to believe that MS was hereditary but thankfully that has become less and less accepted although it’s something I will always have to be mindful of. What I’ve learnt since diagnosis is how to look after myself better and appreciate all aspects of life. Although that’s not always the case for days after a hefty number of pints and shots all for the craic that I don’t even remember having.
The routine needs to be more consistent. Admittedly I’ve fallen off the red meat wagon of late. White bread ham sambos like my mam used to make me have been ordered a couple of times from the canteen in work. Butter on both slices of bread, just ham in the middle, delish 😛 “Do you want any extra fillings?” “Nope”. Totally against the diet I’ve been trying to stick to and that’s been contributing to me staying relapse free. For the last while, the only Ham Sandwich I was interested in were the band from Kells – who funnily enough I saw for the first time in the Roisin Dubh in Galway when my symptoms were becoming particularly prominent but at that stage I had no idea what was in store. I had to hold onto a pillar to keep my balance steady for the whole show but they certainly made a lasting impression.
I’m disciplined at taking my medication and vitamin D at least. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I have to inject Copaxone. I listen to the Ian Dempsey breakfast show while getting ready for work each morning. If I haven’t injected by the time Paula MacSweeney comes on to give the showbiz news at around 7.50a.m that means I’m running late. It’s little associations such as this that act as a constant reminder and keep me consistent with my medication.
I’m conscious that my immune system is considered to be relatively weak. Any slight cold or flu-like symptoms need to be treated with caution. I got a dose of man flu a while back. I tried to shake it off but it seemed to trigger old symptoms that hadn’t appeared in ages all at the same time. Lack of sleep matched with extreme tiredness, dizziness, blurred vision, feeling like I’m hungover even though I hadn’t been drinking; these all appear occasionally but not all at once. I was lying in the spare bed (as I didn’t want to share my germs with Michelle & Oliver) on the Monday morning bright and early. I couldn’t sleep but was exhausted. In my boredom, I read over a previous blog I wrote called Uncover What’s Sleeping in your Soul. In it I talk about the Blur vs Oasis rivalry from the mid-90s. I was in two-minds whether or not to call in sick to work. I knew I should but I hate not going in unless absolutely necessary. I decided to leave it to chance.
On the rare morning when I’m up before 7a.m. I listen to Paula MacSweeney’s early morning breakfast show. I was going to tweet her asking to play some Blur if she thought I should call in sick with man flu. I put on the radio and before the tweet was even sent Paula had Blur playing on the radio. Decision made. No work today. I tweeted her anyway about my man flu and she read it out live on air. In the meantime, I sent an obligatory email to my manager to which I received the response:
that’s no problem. Look after yourself.
Ps: If you’re going to call in sick probably best not to have it broadcast on national radio first. #Parklife.”
Dammit, I should have known he’d be listening at that time. I’m such an idiot. But that response did earn us the much coveted MacSweeney Beanie. It was delivered in the post addressed to Oliver and Paula did send a note saying to give it to his Mammy for putting up with me 🙂
The day off done me the world of good and soon after I was back into a routine that I wouldn’t stick to once again. Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself. I’ve been very lucky so far with this battle. MS is referred to as an invisible disease. So invisible in fact that I don’t know myself sometimes if that’s what’s causing me to feel run down or tired or just blue. I have to, and I want to, maintain a healthy lifestyle, the alternative isn’t worth thinking about. I’d be foolish to call a cease fire to this battle so early into it. Especially now that I feel I can combat my MS by staying positive, eating right, exposing myself to sunshine, exercising and taking my medication & vitamins (good advice Hulkster!!) regularly. I’m going to be an idiot sometimes. That’s a fact. But I can’t beat myself up. I have MS to that for me if I let it. I don’t intend to let it. The battle continues…. contender ready!
You always start over, You always survive,
If I’ve yet to take over, I’ve yet to say goodbye.
Ants – Ham Sandwich