The defining personal event of this year happened in March when I got sick. Physically speaking neither the symptoms nor the treatment were very dramatic. I slurred my speech so subtly that even my coworkers and family had trouble detecting it, was treated with a high dose of intravenous steroids for three days running, then spent two weeks in bed sleeping, reading and writing. The recovery was even, dare I say it, enjoyable during those moments when I wasn’t thinking about the looming implications of the whole thing. But there were implications, namely if I had a second spate of neurological symptoms like these I would be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It is a disease that lacks both an explanation and a prognosis, more of a name for a collection of symptoms than the promise of cause, calamity, or cure that the word “disease” implies.
The three months between my recovery and my follow-up appointment with the neurologist were spent adjusting to this new reality of living in the not knowing. (Of course all of life is living in the not knowing, it’s just that most of mine I’ve been lucky enough to maintain the delusion of “knowing” afforded by the luck of birth, relatively stable employment and relationships, and material comfort.) Husband and I both thought and spoke of the “what if” daily. I monitored every physiological tick with the vigilance of a sniper, and husband still doesn’t let a confused consonant or dropped syllable slip by without asking, half-joking, if I have MS. The follow-up appointment finally came and, despite the fact that this three-month symptom-free milestone was of no statistical significance for my chances of developing MS, I felt liberated from obsessing about the possibility.
It was during those preceding months that I had the brilliant idea that husband and I should do a four day bicycle ride from London to Paris next May to raise money for MS charities. It was an act borne of that time when I needed to exert some control, when nothing else was bending to my will. But the truth is now that I’ve been healthy for nearly nine months I don’t want anything to do with MS, even (maybe especially) charity. Undoubtedly those of you who have been within earshot or blogshot of me in the past year feel the same way. However, I have decided to do the ride; it will be character building, no? And I am fat, which can only be helped by a little cold weather training for an endurance event. And it’s a convenient excuse for a trip to Paris, where I can undo all that training by consuming my body weight in confit de canard and vin blanc within hours of arrival.
The MS scare was the low point of the year but there have also been ups, notably husband’s reaction to the whole thing. By his own admission he is a high strung nancy-boy at the best of times, and yet during the crisis he became possessed by an unfamiliar demon of rationality and support. I was also granted dual citizenship of this fair country, which came with the invaluable right to get in the shortest customs line at Heathrow. And I was promoted, putting me back in the realm of the music business I thought I had left behind for good last year (third time’s a charm, no?). Husband survived the launch of the latest entertainment extravaganza, coming to a theatre near you in 2010. He did this notably without killing anyone in his workplace — with only the help of the occasional prescription neuro-enhancer and the bent ears of both his long suffering wife and his plump Irish shrink. And just because we like to create stress we decided to sell our flat in London and buy another one — a fixer upper to ensure the stress keeps on coming — closing on both in the same week that I had to be in three different countries for work. Finally, there was my personal moment of zen 2009, Levi Johnston’s Vanity Fair interview about life with the Palins.
I end with a request that this holiday season you give to our charitable endeavors with the same level of fervor with which husband and I have recently courted chaos in our lives: reckless abandon is welcome and, for once, you’re guaranteed to feel good the next morning. Every penny / pence / eurocent of your donations will go to the charities as husband and I will cover the costs to support our trip. Just think how guilty you’ll feel if my brain decides to attack itself again. Low blow? Yes, but remember it’s all for charity!
To sponsor me click here.
With much gratitude I wish you a merry Christmas, happy Hannukah, and a happy, healthy new year!