3 weeks to go…

I’m extremely conscious that I’ve not written for about two weeks again. I sort of feel like there’s not a lot to say at the moment, despite the fact perhaps the biggest thing to ever happen to me is imminent!

The countdown is very much on for my trip into hospital. It’s three week today until I’m in hospital starting my first round of Lemtrada treatment. In preparation for this, I’ve taken a couple of days off work to “declutter”. Although not 100% sure where I want to spend my recovery time yet (Essex, with Mum and Dad is an option), when I am at home, I want to have as little “stuff” around me as possible.

Last Monday, something strange happened. I didn’t wake up with my first thought being “I’ve got MS.” Ok so that being my first thought is perhaps a slight exaggeration, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that over the last 8 months since I got told that I might have it, I’ve been very conscious of it. There’s been an MS cloud. Not necessarily a big grey cloud, but a cloud has been hanging around. But now it’s gone.

It got me wondering why this might be the case. I have a theory that I’ve toyed with for a while now. Had I attended my appointment with the specialist back in March and been sent home with a prescription, that would have been it. Something would be being done about my condition and life would have to go on. I feel as though whilst waiting for all stuff to happen, I’m back in Limbo again (and we all know how much I just LOVE it there!) Now I have a date that yes I am waiting around for, but it feels more proactive. So I’m getting on with life as much as I can.

So cloud gone! Yay!

I couldn’t believe how quickly my date came through following confirmation that I was agreed as suitable for treatment. I spoke to Danny last week and he explained it. I was on an urgent list! It seems insane when I have no real disability in terms of my mobility. I think that’s the point though. Nobody wants me to get to that stage.

Now I’m in the throes of hospital bag planning. I’m so well prepared based on everything I’ve read in the fab Lemtrada group on Facebook. Apart from the obvious stuff, I need to be prepared with mints and cordial. Apparently you need to drink copious amounts of liquid (easier with dilute mixed in) and mints help the revolting taste that steroids leave.

I’m taking my laptop so I can continue my current binge watching of Grey’s Anatomy (no spoilers please – I’m only on Season 6), and I’ve got plenty of other things on the binge watch list! I’ve got books to take, journalling to do and of course I’ll be continuing blogging and writing to my fabulous pen pals.

Now all there is to wait for is the big day itself, which from what I hear, is a massive anti climax!

Watch this space. I’ll definitely be keeping you posted!

I’ve got a date!

Well – I’m blown away!

I mentioned just earlier this week that I have been approved for Lemtrada treatment, and today I received a phone call from one of the MS Nurse’s at Salford Royal with a start date for Lemtrada of 11th June. I am so happy at
how quickly I’ve been given a date to start.

So that’s it. The countdown is on!

For the first time in my life, I’m going to be an inpatient at hospital. I feel a real mixture of excitement and nerves at the moment. The adrenaline is definitiely pumping as I think about what this means. It’s moments like this that I
realise that even though I feel mostly ok, I’m not. The treatment I am having is really aggressive. There’s a reason for that.

I think I’ve talked about what Lemtrada is before, but here’s a quick recap:

  • Four weeks prior to treatment I start the Listeria Diet (basically can’t eat/drink unpasteurised products, uncooked meats, pre-prepared fruit and salads, Mr Whippy, soft eggs and
    cheese)
  • Inpatient in hospital. The treatment is five, four hour infusions. One a day. The treatment basically wipes out my white blood cells as they are what’s causing the demyelination / attacking
    my nerves. Think of it like a system reboot of a computer!
  • Following last infusion, sent home with all the antibiotics and a sick note
  • Four weeks later, start monthly blood and urine tests to monitor possible delayed side effects
  • Six weeks later, finish Listeria Diet
  • 12 months later – go in for Round 2!
  • Five years later – finish monthly bloods

That’s a real whistle stop tour of the treatment, but it gives you the general idea.

This is exciting. It’s huge. This treatment could halt my MS, or at the very least slow it right down. There’s even evidence to suggest that it could reverse some symptoms (although this isn’t common).

I’m excited. This is going to be a long five and a half weeks!

Little Update!

I’ve not blogged for about ten days, which for me is quite a while! I’ve felt like there’s not been much to say over the last couple of weeks.

So what’s been happening?

Last Sunday, my lovely friend Karen ran the London Marathon for MS-UK. As she had a charity spot, she had a £2000 target to hit, which I’m pleased to say she did. She didn’t have the race she’d been planning because of the heat. But she did it! What an absolute champion!

Lou dragged me to Body Pump on Monday, then I spent the subsequent five days not being able to walk. I found this particularly amusing as I’d shared my story on our work intranet in aid of MS Awareness Week. All I could think was that people will have read my story, then seen me walking really strangely. Then put two and two together and ended up with five 😂. It certainly gave me a little chuckle!

The last couple of days, Dave and I have been glamping! When I found out about going for Lemtrada this year, I knew we’d have to get a break in sooner rather than later. We had thought about trying to get over to Athens for a couple of nights, but it’s just not going to he possible. So instead we’ve found ourselves in a “Pod” on a campsite between Blackpool and Preston.

Although the weather was abysmal, it’s been so lovely to just recharge. I actually prefer the bad weather to it having been roasting. Plus, as the weather was bad, it was nice to not feel compelled to do something just because it was nice. I think I needed to just more or less stop!

I’ve had increasingly itchy feet again – you know what I get like when I’ve not heard from my specialists for a bit. Today I came home to some fab news though.

I’VE BEEN APPROVED FOR LEMTRADA!

This is such a relief. I know I got told that the evaluation panel thing is “just a tickbox exercise” but it was still worrying me a bit. So now it’s just a case of waiting (oh there’s a change!) for a date.

On the plus side I’m still avoiding a lumbar puncture, YAY!

Finally, I’ve started reading a book called “The Unmapped Mind.” It’s written by a guy who has relapsing remitting MS, and has also had Lemtrada. It’s a combination of his memoirs along with everything he learned along the way. I’ll be giving a full review once I’ve finished!

Forget me not.

The hardest thing I have to cope with day to day, is waiting around to hear from my medical team. I always get itchy feet when I’ve not heard from the hospital for a bit. It’s now a month since my last appointment and 3 weeks since I confirmed to Danny my treatment choice.

3 weeks isn’t very long really, but when this is the biggest thing in your life, and you’re waiting, 3 weeks is bloody ages!

Today I came home to blood test results. Which I don’t even understand (but for the confirmation that YES, I have had chicken pox), but I couldn’t be happier to have them!

The immense relief I feel when this happens, is huge.

YAY! The NHS hasn’t forgotten I exist!

You know what this reminds me of? Boyfriend’s in my early 20s.

I kid you not.

In my 20s, my insecurities coupled with rubbish boyfriend’s, meant that when I wasn’t with them I felt as though I constantly needed to be in touch with them. Knowing what they were doing. Who they were with (yeah I know boys. I was one of “them”). I always got “the fear” when they were on a night out.

I remember one particular boyfriend, who would never commit to when he was seeing me next. I’d be expected to wait around, and wait in to see if today was the day I’d get to see him. Turns out that was because he was too busy planning when he was going to see his other girlfriend, and would just let me fit in wherever suited him.

On reflection that was such a sad existence. I look at 20 something me, and want to give her a hug. Tell her that he’s not worth it anyway. Not that I would have listened.

Anyway – back to the point! Receiving non descript letters from the hospital feels really quite reminiscent of those texts from a guy you’re seeing, at the point that you think he’s forgotten all about you. No, you haven’t the foggiest how to interpret that text he sent, but at least he’s thinking of you!

I’d like to think that I’d at least learned the art of patience from these experiences, but clearly I haven’t!

Today though, I take my mail as confirmation that no, the NHS hasn’t forgotten about me!

My Big “Why”

I have been obsessively on a diet for as long as I can remember. I wouldn’t say I have an eating disorder but I’ve certainly had an unhealthy approach to food at times.

Last September I decided to put an end to that after reading “The Goddess Revolution” by Mel Wells. I highly recommend it to anyone that’s struggled on diets or has a love hate relationship with food. It’s a fantastic read and helps you to see how you can change your attitude towards food . You ditch the diet mindset and focus on intuitive eating. Trouble is, as I’ve not been banning pizza and chocolate, I’ve intuitively just eaten a lot of that stuff.

Not great!

Luckily, I’ve only put on about half a stone as a result. But it’s time to heal that.

Mel works on you finding your “BIG WHY”. Why do you want to heal? It’s got to be big and something that you emotionally connect with. It’s got to be big enough to make you want to stop and truly look after you by eating good, nourishing soul foods. And no, I want a sexy summer bod, ain’t enough!!!

For some people, it’s so that they can get a body that will give their unborn child the best start. For others, it’s so that they can lead a happier life filled with vitality and adventure – where they truly love and respect their body and don’t let it hold them back.

For me it’s something else. For me, my “why” is so that I’m strong enough to fight this battle I’ve got. My strength that I’ve built in the gym in the last four years is something I will eternally be grateful for – I seriously question if I’d still be as mobile as I am if I hadn’t built my strength as much as I have done.

This realisation is the immediate kick up the arse I need to get back to training and eating well.

In the spirit of this, I’ve spent the last hour prepping Buddha bowls and I’m off to a new gym tomorrow!

My Buddha Bowl! Wild rice, sweetcorn, edamame beans, roasted broccoli, squash and peppers, carrot and crunchy chickpeas. Topped with a nice cajun chimichurri dressing 😍

Unfortunately, the 10K that I really wanted to run for Wigan MS Therapy Centre this year, isn’t going to happen – there’s no way with going in for treatment I’d be able to be fit enough in time.

For now however – I’m just going to do me, without a diet plan and without setting myself stupid goals that I obsess over and then feel crap for because I’ve failed at them. They make me unhappy and they do not nourish my soul, never mind my body!

Here’s to strength and vitality!

Today, is a good day!

Following my last appointment, where my Specialist and Danny told me all about my treatment options I’ve had a lot of thinking to do. My decision hasn’t changed from what I had decided in my last post.

Today, I confirmed to Danny that the route I want to go down, is Lemtrada.

In the time since my last appointment, I’ve been in touch with Ana, a patient of Danny’s who has responded well to treatment. Ruth, a new friend who also has MS, added me to a group on Facebook for people who are thinking about Lemtrada as a treatment option, or already going through it. I was a bit wary of this at first as we all know my prior experience of forums kind of sucks. I’ve found it a very real, balanced environment though. It’s not full of whingers. It’s really supportive and feels far less “toxic” than some of the other forums that I had previously come across. If anything it’s helped me confirm my decision.

So that’s it.

Next steps are my case going to an evaluation panel where my Specialist applies for funding. From what I gather, this is more of a tick box and with the story that my spine is telling with so many lesions, it’s without question that he’ll be successful. After that I’ll hear from my Specialist, with a date.

Then it’s just sitting tight and waiting (yeah, waiting again!) for a date to go into hospital. The challenge is waiting for a bed, but Danny thinks that I should be in by June.

I need to start thinking of all the questions to ask him, because here’s how good my questions were today:

– Can I travel to Essex if I decide to spend some of my recovery down there?

– Are you going to put me in a cotton wool house?

– Can I still hang out with Poppy (the dog)?

– Can I still drink gin?

No. I don’t need to be wrapped up in cotton wool, and I can live a reasonably normal life in the period after treatment within reason (i.e. keep away from “germy” folk). I can have gin, hang out with Poppy and go to Essex if I decide to do that.

Today, I actually feel elated. I feel like I’m getting somewhere. And as I said to Louise the other day:

“Bring it the f*ck on!”