Fall Down, Get Up Again- a Column by John Connor

In the ‘80s, John created the first regular column about the burgeoning London stand-up scene. In 1990 he wrote a book about its effect on the Edinburgh Festival: “Comics: A Decade of Comedy at the Assembly Rooms.” That year he also devised and ran a live topical stand-up team show at The London Comedy Store, The Edge. (It was destroyed in 2020!) In 2009 John was diagnosed with RRMS, which cut short his main job as a TV casting director for “Black Books,” “My Family,” et al. Now, John writes “Fall Down Get Up Again,” an irreverent journey with MS, and also serves as MS News Today Forums co-moderator.

On the Road

It’s 4 a.m. and, unsurprisingly, I’m laying flat on my back. Yesterday, I had a whale of a time and now I feel like a beached one. I’m not in my own bed because I’m staying in a tres jolie bed-and-breakfast in Northern France. The trouble is the bed…

Poetic Justice to be a Party Pooper

In my angst-ridden teen years, I wrote poetry. It was truly dreadful and should have disappeared in the wash of personal history. Luckily, it was the mid-’70s, and in those pre-internet days, it was committed only in pen to scrappy paper rather than as a confessional to the…

What Keeps Me Going — and Smiling

Shooting the breeze after work has been part of my professional life for 27 years. We’re all winding down, yes, but I’m actually still working. New ideas, niggles, gossip are thrown together over drinks. True, many of the younger generation’s beverages these days are non-alcoholic, so they tend not…

The Case of the Worried Patient

Hypochondria grabs, and it’s very difficult to shake. I spent the past three days eliminating potential reasons for struggling more than usual. Hopefully, it was a urinary tract infection (UTI) that was causing severe lethargy. It might have been at the start; I immediately jumped on a high ph…

The Weekend

The weekend should have started on Friday. My sister-in-law is over from France and there was the first gathering of the clan in a local hostelry. I took the sensible option of staying in as there was an even bigger do at our place on Saturday night. My…

The Blowout

It was one of those mornings the day after, when I was moving like a zombie before they became ubiquitous. The night before had been my 30th birthday ― I was now an old bloke. About 20 of us had gathered in an uber-cool West End London restaurant, drank…

Everything in the Garden Is Now Rosy

  About 10 years ago, in the days before my MS, I had a whole raft of self-imposed jobs. As a new age man, one of these was doing the washing. Yes, this combated the usual bloke’s role in a heterosexual household, but to counter this, I was very…

I Don’t Know What It’s Called, But I Like It

It looks like a dog’s leash, but it isn’t. I put in “dog’s lead” and “disabled apparatus” into my first Google search and fittingly was taken down into a rabbit’s warren of equipment for psychically challenged dogs. Who knew? It’s a nifty bit of kit for moving your leg…

One Day at a Time

I was going to write about something else, then my MS got in the way. Intellectually, I know MS is very up-and-down, but often when the down hits, I think the worst has happened. I went to my exercise class this week and struggled. Got home and recovered.

MS and Retirement

And so the good news is that if you have MS, then you can get an enhanced annuity in the United Kingdom. That is a higher payment for the rest of your life than if you were well. That’s because our illness may reduce life expectancy. A recent survey…

MS and Incontinence

Another of those things I was never warned about. Maybe if I’d been assigned a local MS nurse at the beginning of my diagnosis, then eruptions out of my pants could have been averted instead of finding out the wet way. I only discovered my local MS nurse…

Disjointed: Living the New Netflix Sitcom

I was going to write about something else this week and then … I got STONED! Those aren’t words I thought I’d ever write. I’d been a kid during the 1960s, but later on had duly done my literary homage by mainlining Jack Kerouac (yes, I know that…

My Wee Crisis, Part 2

It was a government letter; I opened it with due trepidation. A call for jury service, so not bad news and a chance to do my civic duty. But at this point I was stumbling to the toilet nearly every 15 minutes. This and needing a cab to get…

My Wee Crisis, Part 1

Having not stood on a stage and attempted stand-up for some 30 years, I’m not in the habit of writing jokes for myself. Obviously, these days, I’d be a sit-down comic anyway, but I think my opening line would be a doozy: “As I self-catheterize, I’m probably the…

Walk This Way

As I write, I’m pain-free. This is important, but not for the obvious reason. I’m pain-free and can walk — or at least stumble — about as best as I’ve been able to manage of late. It’s not much, but I can be involved in family life and get…

Itchy Arms and the Internet: Making Rash Assumptions

It’s been an incredibly bad few weeks, so I’m not surprised that I spent recent days wondering if I had incurable liver disease. Living with chronic illness, plus the internet, plus now justifiable hypochondria, is a very dark nexus. It started with a UTI that has been persistent for nigh…

Going Solo… Sort Of

In my youth, I hitchhiked the breadth of North America ― Canada, from east to west. I had 16 first cousins in the country and only my parents back at home. My quest was to meet them all. Which I duly did. I traversed the whole of the Trans-Canada…

The Mouth that Roared

After 10-odd ― indeed, increasingly odd ― years, I presumed I’d become something of a gnarled hand at MS. If you read about something on practically a daily basis, you begin to think you’ve got pretty comprehensive knowledge of a subject. Sure, in the past, events happened that I…

Advantage Me: Now Serving, Wimbledon’s Centre Court

It's Wimbledon fortnight. The tennis signifies it's the height of the British summer. You usually can tell it's an English summer because it rains for two weeks. Not this time. It's baking hot and the hallowed grass can't handle it! If U.S. President Donald Trump is right and there is no such thing as climate change, the least he could do is supply the All England Tennis and Croquet Club with the formula for his resilient head of hair. Everything thrown at him does seem to just bounce off. It would make the perfect surface for these changing times. And what has this to do with MS? Well, it seems I've turned into Maria Sharapova. And, no, it has nothing to do with drugs or a penchant for wearing ultra short skirts! John Connor & Sean Meo having a smashing time. A friend was over who hadn't seen me in my natural habitat, i.e., at home, for a long while. "Is all that noise normal?" she asked my wife, "Is John in any trouble?" "No," my wife tersely explained, "That's what he's like these days!" I've found that heaving my lumpen carcass around is aided by a cacophony of grunts and groans. I can hear that it's not pleasant, but it is completely involuntary. I could move without making noise, but the sheer concentration needed would take mental resources away from maintaining balance. All pride goes before falling over! I live just a few miles from Wimbledon, but the only advantage this usually gives me is the knowledge if it's raining here, it's about to rain there. As a tennis nut, I can then get on with something else rather than watch it on TV. Getting tickets, unless you're willing to camp out in a queue for days, is nigh impossible. That is, it was, until I entered the wheelchair tennis fraternity. Somehow, I ended up on a database that puts me in a regular ballot for tickets. Don't get to go every year, but, hey, that's a lot better than not going at all! And last week, I was fortunate to get Centre Court tickets. If it had rained, unlike the other courts, it has a sliding roof, so the tennis rolls on unabated. Instead, it was a blistering day. Luckily, the wheelchair section is right at the top. The view is still excellent, but we were sheltered from the sun by the court's permanent roof. Previously, I've been on No. 1 Court, where the wheelchair area is superb. But I'd have been in direct sunlight. Five hours of that and I'd have wilted like a vampire. The added bonus at Centre Court was a disabled toilet only a few yards away and a concessions area nearby. We could get as many Pimm's cocktails as we wanted without queuing and missing game after game. The downside is that you are now fully aware of the exorbitant cost of the things: 8.50 pounds a go! We sipped, rather than guzzled, our way through the afternoon. My carer for the day was Sean Meo, a comic with whom I've worked for some 20 years. He is the most enthusiastic tennis fan I know. He also is a fitness fanatic and correctly has a low opinion of sugar. So, yes, I had to get my own ice cream! It was cheering to be physically close enough to get to the concessions area so that I could. The real bonus came at the beginning of the day. To get into Centre Court with a wheelchair, we had to go via the players entrance. The guard on the door said we had to wait five minutes because an "old lady" was coming down in the lift. It was Thursday of the first week; it couldn't be the Queen. We were only feet away from the "old lady" when she emerged, and she's aged well. It was Roger Federer.

MS Pipe Dreams: Dealing with Urinary Tract Infections

I’ve been considering writing about the fun, fun world of catheters. As this column is morphing into some sort of diary, let’s deal with this week’s medical procedural drama. Welcome to UTI (urinary tract infection) week. Anyone who uses a catheter is prone to a higher incidence…

So Tired of This

It’s summer in the U.K., and it’s hot. That’s cause for celebration for everyone but us. It’s actually the hottest June day since 1986. Heat immediately spikes my fatigue. For some of us, the cold does the same. Thankfully, not me — I get the winter off. According…

Looking Back in Anger

Back in the day, I always wanted to be a columnist. That day was so long ago it was before sunrise. In my youthful naivety, I never thought about generating an idea a week. I also never considered it would be about my travails with an illness. Still,…

Living with MS: There’s a World Out There

One of the most dispiriting aspects of a chronic illness is that it traps you in your own world. Major events happen but these are filtered against the achievement of actually being able to get yourself to the bathroom. At the time of writing, we in the U.K.

Lemtrada II: My Right Foot (Hopefully)

Read John Connor’s previous column, “Lemtrada I: This Island Couch.” Apologies for the pic of my edema–riddled right foot. If I put whiskers on it, my big toe could do a damn fine impersonation of a seal. On the bright side, a month ago it was twice this…

Lemtrada I: This Island Couch

The latest drug media storm to erupt in Britain is “Spice,” which causes users to become living statues. Exactly a year ago, I became a living statue for six weeks, and not one reporter hassled me. That would have broken the monotony! We all have our own version…

A Very Hip Story: ‘The Shower That Ate Me’

It was three years since I’d seen my best mate Nigel. The last time had been when we said goodbye at London City Airport after our three-day sozzled sojourn (OK, drunken trip) round the Scottish Isle of Islay. To the uninitiated, a pilgrimage for those who worship peat in their…

There’s Something Wrong with Both of Us

There are a few moments when life changes. In my day, it was meeting your partner across a crowded room. Now it’s sadly the flick of an app. What hasn’t changed is that only later do you realize this really was a moment. This isn’t a story about romance…

One Day in the Working Life of John Peter Connor

These might be the days of the gig economy, but I’ve been doing one every Tuesday for 27 years. My particular white van (for US readers the delivery drivers of such are a British stereotype of the new Amazon order — or lack of it) is a comedy vehicle…

Dancing Doodle

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