The Joy of Joining the ‘Downton Abbey’ Set

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

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attack, START, morning, retirement, victory, Christmas and covid-19

For an espoused leftie, you might be surprised that I’ve always had the brush of the rugged individualist about me. Not quite Bear Grylls, but grabbing a rucksack and hitching across Canada still counts as my own youthful rite of passage.

I was used to doing everything! As multiple sclerosis shrank my range of abilities, I still managed to care for myself. It was getting exhausting! Between work and looking after myself it felt like I was constantly on the go. The only rest I got was when fatigue set in and I smashed to a stop!

Possibly I’d read one too many (you can never just read one!) Jack London novels when I was nowt but a lad. He was heavily influenced by Nietzsche’s philosophy and his always male leads — whether dog (“The Call of the Wild”), wolf (“White Fang”), or human (“The Star Rover”) — all exhibited the character of “the superhuman.” London was not about to let the concept only be applied to us lot; he wasn’t going to let humanity get in the way of a good story. Nor did he let the idea of a good story go to waste — “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang” being mirror images. Imagine “Star Wars” backward! Oh, the horror …

My friend Nige prompted the thought of “Downton Abbey” by asking me how the staff were getting on. As he’s also one of my regular readers, I suppose I can do a “write-out” to him!

Since my relapse a few months ago I’ve had START — which in the British healthcare system stands for Short Term Assessment and Reablement Team, a program to facilitate independence. They gave me bed baths for the first week, then showers. They also started dealing with bed sores, created by constantly sitting and lying on my tush and being in nappies.

It was also a relief for my family. I’ve always been a pain in the arse, but when I’ve actually got a pain in the arse … well, that’s me squared!

I’ve recovered somewhat from the jelly-mess I was in a few months ago. The balance of drugs for the neuropathy in my right arm has improved immeasurably. I think my local doctors could hear me screaming from my house! I’m certainly good at doing phone whimper — the very definition of “method.”

I now have carers coming in every morning — well, just about morning, as I’ve got it set for 11 a.m. I’m not about to kick my lifetime habit and get up early! Yes, it’s been a risk creating my own work all my adult life but I’d rather risk anything than get up much before noon!

The carers have especially taken the pressure off my wife.

The team coming in now that the crisis is over was helpfully sourced by my local social services. They take all the work out of it. If they could also sort out mobile phone contracts, now what a joy that would be!


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Cynthia avatar


Thanks for another good column
I have been thinking about getting some help from social development .Your column is the push I needed.


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