Why I Decided to Join the A-Team (Millennials, Look It Up!) — Part 1

Why I Decided to Join the A-Team (Millennials, Look It Up!) — Part 1

First in a two-part series.

Do I give in or fight?

I’d had all the tests, and in the summer of 2009, my fears were confirmed: I had MS. My first question was, “Would I end up in a wheelchair?” My neurologist, who must have given the answer innumerable times, said it might happen — no one could know. I’m sure the real answer was, “Probably. It doesn’t happen to everyone; hopefully, it won’t for you.”

Several years later, another neurologist who had previously treated me saw me relying on a walking stick and, while breezily walking past, declared, “We’ll have you back walking properly in no time.” Pep talk. False hope. Well, why the hell not?

Then, in February of last year, the probable happened, and I slowly ground to a halt.

It took a while for me to accept it, but the power of the will gets sapped when evacuation of the bowels meets slapstick!

Because of the cocktail of drugs I was then on, I’d have only seconds of warning before an explosion. I’d sensibly taken to wearing adult diapers. I was downstairs and attempting to get into the nearest toilet, which unfortunately required clambering down two steps. I failed on both counts!

Unluckily for my family, they were all in.

I’d fallen in the tight space of a narrow toilet, and also exuded the intense odor of parfum de pigsty.

Working as a team, we managed to get me up and onto the toilet. It took at least an hour. I remember clinging to the rim of the toilet bowl and lifting with all my might, like I was on some kind of survival course.

The laughter was intense. It was either that or cry.

Enter, the wheelchair-accessible van

Walking was no longer an option. If I wasn’t fatigued, I could still stand. Getting in and out of a car was incredibly tiring, so it was time to look for a new vehicle.

We hit upon a trilogy of solutions: an electric wheelchair, adaption of our house so that I could get in and out, and a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

We started looking at vans with ramps. Then my wife suggested we future-proof the whole enterprise and get something that I could still drive, and even get into on my own.

The closest I’ll ever get to being in the A-Team. (Photo by Jane Davies)

Enter a van with its own liftgate. It wasn’t the A-Team van, but it was as close as I would ever get.

After over a year of dithering, it finally turned up.

Next week: The synchronicity of bureaucracy and the family outing.

Anyone want a lift? (Photo by Jack Connor)

***

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‘In 1982 John Connor was a stand up, sketch writer & journalist – crap at all three he decided whilst watching a man performing with a paper bag on his head that as nobody else was going to write about stand up he would’. ‘Comics’ Papermac 1990. In 2009 John Connor was diagnosed with MS. In 2017 John Connor still produces/directs his own live 27 year old resident topical comedy show at London’s Comedy Store – ‘The Cutting Edge’. He was also a leading UK Casting Director specialising in comedy – including one of the hippest shows ‘Black Books’ [double BAFTA winning Situation Comedy Award] & for at least a decade the biggest sitcom on British TV ‘My Family’. TV & MS was a step too far – and we know how hard any step can be. Luckily his satirical show was a built in part time job & with the election of Trump is now in the zeitgeist. John now writes “Fall Down Get Up Again” – an irreverent journey with MS.
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‘In 1982 John Connor was a stand up, sketch writer & journalist – crap at all three he decided whilst watching a man performing with a paper bag on his head that as nobody else was going to write about stand up he would’. ‘Comics’ Papermac 1990. In 2009 John Connor was diagnosed with MS. In 2017 John Connor still produces/directs his own live 27 year old resident topical comedy show at London’s Comedy Store – ‘The Cutting Edge’. He was also a leading UK Casting Director specialising in comedy – including one of the hippest shows ‘Black Books’ [double BAFTA winning Situation Comedy Award] & for at least a decade the biggest sitcom on British TV ‘My Family’. TV & MS was a step too far – and we know how hard any step can be. Luckily his satirical show was a built in part time job & with the election of Trump is now in the zeitgeist. John now writes “Fall Down Get Up Again” – an irreverent journey with MS.

2 comments

  1. Gale Langseth Vester says:

    John,

    Having MS really brings the question ‘Is it easier to start laughing or crying?’ to the fore. The answer, as far as I’ve worked out, is, ‘Don’t be choosy, as there’s no reason that someone can’t do both at once.’ This is likely a scenario in which not choosing is the only option.

    Enjoying your column very much and wishing you all you need.

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