You Know Things Are Bad When the Banks Tell You to Wear a Mask
I know the new strain of coronavirus is bad, but in the face of impending doom, I’m likely to find humor.
Anyone who has had more aggressive disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) like Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) and Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) likely has a compromised immune system. After all, this is exactly what they’re trying to achieve: reducing our B-lymphocytes to stop them attacking the protective coating on our nerves, called myelin.
In my case, I’ve had both DMTs — double jeopardy. In fact, my immune system is so bad that I was stopped at the last minute from having my latest infusion of Ocrevus in December.
I was severely annoyed at the time. Sure, it was because of the risk of me getting progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a rare brain disease, but I had to get up at 5 a.m. — which is only an hour after I go to bed!
But with the subsequent spread of the new coronavirus, stopping anything that will destroy my B-lymphocytes further turns out to be a good thing. After all, B-lymphocytes might be behind the worsening of my MS, but they’re also my antibody factories.
No wonder much of the plot of “Catch-22” revolved around medicine.
However, it’s indubitably too late anyway. All of my MS medical professionals seem to think there’s little chance of my immune system recovering. I just had a full steroids course and a blood test. We’ll see.
As with much of my MS journey, at least we’ve done the best we can, even if this time it was a fluke. We were aiming to get me back on Ocrevus, but for the foreseeable future, that will be a big no.
MS: Do your worst. We all know you’re exceedingly good at it.
In the present circumstances, I’d say I’m pretty well [expletive]. I’m sure my editors will blanch at the use of that word [Ed’s note: You are correct], but if this is not the time to invoke one of my writing heroes, Mr. Hunter S. Thompson, then when is? Maybe I should rename this column “Fear and Loathing in My Bedroom.”
My brother-in-law just arrived from Thailand. We shouted hello through my closed bedroom door.
It turns out that I have a history with an earlier global pandemic, the Spanish flu. My grandmother died of it in 1918 when my father was 2 years old.
The 1918 influenza pandemic killed more people than those who died in World War I. It was of avian origin, and several theories exist as to its cause. One suggests that the pandemic started in the U.S. and was delivered en masse to Europe by U.S. troops aboard ships. Another suggests it started in China. Ironically, the Spanish flu didn’t start in Spain, but due to that country’s neutrality during the war, there were no publishing restrictions, and Spain’s media talked openly about the spread of the disease.
I’ve produced and directed a topical standup show called “The Edge” at The Comedy Store in the heart of London’s West End for nearly 30 years. (This July will be our 30th anniversary!) For the first time in its long run, I didn’t go in due to a topical reason. Oh, the irony. Hoist that petard! It’s quite possible that last week was also my last show. I’m now in a self-imposed purdah.
I’m still working on the show remotely, as we’ve built an entire infrastructure to do so because of my previous MS-imposed absences. Maybe the only time I’ll get to go back is for my funeral! (Line: “At least I never died on this stage — I’m just a bit stiff on it!”)
I’m a dinosaur enjoying the pretty lights in the sky as the asteroid hit.
Only I don’t even get the pretty lights.
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