‘I approached my 50th birthday unable to balance or speak'

30 August 2017

Source  Caroline Wyatt, The Telegraph:

I lay face down on a pedestrian crossing, knees bleeding where they’d hit the road.  I couldn’t get back on my feet, even as the lights changed. It was May 2016 and I’d been on my way to meet friends when  I fell without warning. The next day I woke too wobbly to walk, with double vision that took weeks to resolve.

I decided then that I had to do something drastic to halt the progress of my multiple sclerosis (MS), the disease I’d been diagnosed with a few months earlier. My latest drug treatment was clearly not working. I was approaching my 50th birthday increasingly unable to balance, concentrate or speak, or even listen to  music or watch TV – the images  made me nauseous, while the emotional lability that often comes with MS meant that music made me weep.  

I’d had symptoms since 1992. For years I tried to ignore the fatigue and brain fog. Sometimes I’d feel better, and wonder if I’d been imagining it. In 2002 I was told I had clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), after a brain scan showed a single brain lesion (an area of damaged tissue) had formed when the myelin sheath – which protects nerves – came under attack. I was warned CIS can be a precursor to MS.

I didn’t want it to affect my job as a BBC correspondent covering religious affairs. But in 2015 I went numb down one side of my body for several weeks. A scan showed multiple lesions, and a specialist confirmed I had relapsing-remitting MS. It felt like a life sentence. My family wasn’t surprised – we’d long known it was a possibility. No tears were shed; my parents are of the stiff-upper-lip generation. Read on.

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