Can I Really Blame MS for Everything I Say?
It wasn’t an argument; it was a reality check. I was happy, nay, self-indulgent.
Within a day, the ol’ stand-up show that I produced at London’s Comedy Store for 30 years had gotten another booking at a countryside marquee just outside the city. I mustn’t disparage, as it’s our fifth glorious year participating in the mini comedy festival. Only one year was punctuated by COVID-19, which incidentally also ended our residency at the Store.
Also, my close and somewhat similarly disabled mate, Nige, came up with a podcast idea for us, inspired by one of my recent columns. See, I’ve got one reader at least. (Hullo, Nige.)
Of course, like any creative endeavor, it might never happen, but as he wrote pithily, we’re “doing stuff better.” We’ve both got innumerable ideas and even more contacts, which is a start.
So although the paraphernalia needed to deal with the physical side of my MS is everywhere (power wheelchair, profile bed, hoist, Molift Raiser, urine and anal catheters, plus the colonic gubbins that go with them, commode on wheels, and that will do, thank you nicely), I was lost in the dreamlike world of my own creative ego. It’s a weird sensation.
Back in the day, I’d pace ’round my teeny garret and mutter away in reverie. Now, I have to sit and stare out the window. I’ve replaced juggling breaks with playing the card game Patience on my laptop. The mere mention of patience sends me off to have my nth crack at it.
Right, I’m back.
The problems of my pretty damned bad MS left me, and my driven, professional side took over. Why? I’m not sure. I simply forget all of my significant problems and think I’ll get by. But this also means ignoring the load that I’m dumping on my wife and carer, Jane. To attend the countryside festival, she’d have to drive me there (a 100-mile round trip) and look after me — not to mention get intensely bored!
All of this led me to say something unforgivable. Not rude or sweary, just awfully narcissistic. I’m mortified when anything that slimy crawls out of what’s left of my scleroses-riddled brain.
Yes, it is possible to blame a certain eating away of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, caused by MS lesions. I wrote a column about this ages ago — how I seemed far more prone to anger at home. Somehow at work, the stress of dealing with mega-egos and wasplike barbs in a crowded dressing room swarm of buzzing comics never fazed me. Perhaps it was because I had the same exact crazed mindset and indeed my own sting! Now that I’m fully at home, maybe I can no longer switch it off. I could at least tone it down before.
So yes, MS may play a role. But — a big but — I’ve learned to control my anger. I haven’t lost it in ages. But perhaps that’s also because of my physical condition.
Years ago, when I was still in a manual wheelchair, but could no longer push it, I was arguing with my entire family at the dinner table.
I started laughing as I said, “I’d [swear word] storm out of here, but I [swear word] can’t. Yes, you’d all push me out to get rid of me, but I ain’t giving any of you lot the satisfaction!”
They laughed, too. Crisis over.
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