A Childish Adult With MS Looks Back on His Life and Has Questions
Looking back on life is normal for most people, but is age or MS the motivator?
“You married a husband and ended up with a child,” quipped I.
It was first thing Sunday morning, and I was addressing my wife of 30 years, Jane. She stood with blue, latex, hypoallergenic gloves on her hands, ready to deal with my sopping wet pad. More on that later, you lucky people.
“You always were a child,” Jane replied deadpan, unfortunately without the slightest hint of sarcasm.
“Well, at least my body now reflects my inner being,” I said, trying to keep things light.
Later, Jane removed a pad filled with the clear, jelly-like mucus I often have. Despite the bad auguries about it, I’ve been assured by my doctors that it’s nothing to worry about. Maybe it’s caused by all the years on antibiotics to deal with my long-term urinary tract infection.
Right joyous aside over, it’s back to my vague main theme.
I’m as helpless as a 2-month-old bairn lying in his cot. In bed, I lie on my back, unable to move, except for my left arm and hand. Oh, yes, and my still effective acid tongue, though it is undoubtedly more than a tad slurry these days.
I’d been shocked by my speech when I did the occasional video or podcast two years ago. (If you want to see me in all my faded echo, the link is at the end of this column. My appearance is at the end of the clip. It took me only 30 years of dealing with comedians to actually get the last word!) Along with my general demeanor, I’m sure my voice is now far, far worse.
I still see the able-bodied person I once was. Maybe it’s the double effect — now that I’m 65, I also imagine a strapping, hip 20-something; it’s not just comparing my former self to someone who now has multiple sclerosis (MS). I, like those in every generation, thought I was truly original by being part of a particular zeitgeist. In my case, it was a comedic one. The chance to be part of such a moment meant that I wasn’t motivated by money.
Meanwhile, the real ’80s in London was the era of the yuppie — excessive money was made by the thrusting young dealers of the stock exchange. And the immediate trickle-down consequence was the explosion of the equally thrusting young dealers of cocaine. Well, that and the trickle-down of snot from all those destroyed noses.
The only time I feel like myself (stop ye titters at the back) is when I’m writing to you lot. And I’m sure that if you’ve read me before, you’ve noticed I do often stray from the yellow brick writing path. Blame a life spent in what was once the new wave of comedy in the U.K., and a love of innumerable humorist writers. I also pay homage to the old Brit variety greats by filching their occasional signature phrases. Before your very eyes.
I’m not winging it, although it sure reads like it. A few weeks ago, I described this feeling of two lives in one body as a sort of psychological schism, and I apologize for being unable to get off the subject.
Have I now entered the stage of life where I can only look back?
Perhaps my life’s physicality of closing in means that I’ll have no choice but to actually produce that oh-so-elusive great novel — the one that anyone who’s strung a few beads of illuminated words together feels they have within them.
Typical of me to actually do it, too, just at the time when the novel is in the process of being strangulated by technology. Hey, without the technology of the printing press, it never really existed anyway!
Hence the old saying, “Those who write by the sword get a very sore hand.”
Or, more profoundly, “MS — what a [insert your own profanity].”
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