Happy New Year
2021 turned out to be a remarkably similar year to 2020, with everything dominated by the Covid pandemic. Whilst this year didn’t see the same level of shielding as last, it has still been very limiting. Here is my 2021 year in MS.
Scans and Symptoms
The year got off to a promising start. I had my annual-ish MRI on 4th January 2021 and when the results arrived a few weeks later, they showed no new lesions on my brain. Hurrah! That makes three MRIs in a row where no new activity has been seen on the scan. My next consultant appointment is mid-January, and I expect to have another MRI in the near future. Fingers crossed that this will be a fourth clear scan.
Almost three-and-a-half years on from my initial incident, my MS symptoms have been very stable throughout 2021. There hasn’t been much, if any change, in the last year which is encouraging. Ironically, I’ve spent the last two days on the sofa, feeling a level of fatigue that I’ve not had before. Today is much better but this serves as a reminder of possible MS symptoms. Is this an MS thing? Possibly. It might be exhaustion; perhapsd it’s coming down from the chocolate-based sugar high of Christmas. It is definitely something to keep an eye on.
Back to Work…For a While
In April, I returned to work after a one-year absence. This was hard. Starting with a new company when everyone is working from home proved difficult. A lot of time was spent on Teams video meetings trying to get to know people. I came to the end of my project phase and decided to leave the role at the end of August.
It just wasn’t for me and I don’t think I was the right fit for the organisation either. Rather than drag it out, I felt it was better for both parties to move on so once again, I am looking for a new role. It did tell me one thing. Having worked in corporate and public sector IT environments for 25 years, I now want to be in a more personally fulfilling role. Something that benefits people and not just shareholders. I just need to work out what that is.
Sport and Exercise
Throughout the year, I’ve continually pushed myself in exercising, to test the limits of my ability with MS. And there might be a stubborn element of me trying to defy the condition. There have been martial arts, running, hill walks ranging anywhere from six to 20+ miles, and in November I returned to the gym. So far, these have all been nothing but positive and have given me a sense of normality. Touch wood, there have been no side effects or negative impact from this increased training. I guess I’m still trying to find that limit, to see if there is something that breaks me. Ideally that won’t happen.
The summer saw me fundraise for the MS Society with my 5k-a-day challenge throughout August. I loved doing this, it felt like a challenge, and I was able to raise over £1500 through sponsorship. My story made the local paper, associated website and I even received a letter of congratulations from my local MP which was really cool.
It was the Parkrun distance of 5K that inspired my challenge and since completing it, I have been a regular Parkrunner. I’ve also started volunteering once a month or so. This has been a revelation. It is so much fun and so rewarding to play a small part in making the Parkrun happen. Scanning the results barcodes shows how Parkrun means so much to people regardless of their ability.
You get the serious runners who complete the course in under 20 minutes though to those who take 40 minutes or more. No matter where they finish, everyone has a personal challenge, and everyone looks relieved to have finished. I see in people’s face a look of satisfaction and sometimes relief, as I scan their finish token. Each group of volunteers has been wonderful, and it is a truly uplifting experience with lots of laughs. I also like the authority of wearing a Hi-Viz jacket.
The monthly post-Lemtrada blood-and-urine tests continued throughout 2021 and thus far they have detected no issues. It’s hard to believe I’m almost at the three-year mark of these tests, with only two more to go. Usually the blood taking goes smoothly but occasionally I’m reminded that I am rubbish with needles and pass out. Thank you and apologies to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital nurses for looking after me.
The Year Ahead
The year ended with me formally joining the MS Society’s Scotland Council. I had been on-board as a co-opted member this year, so this makes it a more formal appointment. There should be plenty for us to do over the next couple of years, starting with the launch of our own Twitter handle. Give us a follow on @MSScotCouncil for all the latest news and chat.
With 2022 almost upon us, I hope that, somehow, we can get on top of the virus. I miss the normal things in life like meeting friends for a beer or a coffee, going to hockey games. Who knew normal was so good? Ideally martial arts practice will resume, gyms will remain open and Parkruns will continue to benefit both physical and mental health. There’s no doubt I am at my happiest when exercising.
On that note, thanks for reading. I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2022. See you in January.