I was at the hospital today undergoing an investigative procedure. I'll spare you the details, but I remember looking at pictures of my brain after an MRI scan and thinking that this was something that I was never meant to see. Well, let's just say that there's now another part of my body that I've seen in far greater detail than I ever imagined. I've got pictures and everything. Pray I never post them.
Anyway. Whilst I was busy watching this procedure in full colour on the TV screen they've thoughtfully provided for this very purpose, the senior supervising nurse turns to me and says:
"You've not had much luck with your health, have you?"
I was a little bit taken aback. I don't think of myself like that, and it was certainly a bit of a surprise to have a medical professional say it to me. I suppose I can see how you might think that, and I've certainly been spending a lot more time with doctors than is ideal... but you just can't allow yourself to think like that, can you? Do people really think like that? How do they cope?
I know it sounds absurdly stoical, but it is what it is. No amount of moaning or feeling sorry for myself is going to change a damn thing and I honestly don't see the point in thinking any differently. Why wallow? Why waste all that time and energy on something you can't change? It's ridiculous and destructive. Besides, I know how lucky I am. It might sound stupid, but it's true. Every time I go to an MS clinic, I can see with my own eyes what this condition can do to a person. That might or might not be my future too. No one can say for sure and everyone's MS story is different... but what I do know is that in April this year I completed the London Marathon. That's 26.2 miles of telling MS who is the boss.
So guess what? I'm doing it again in 2016; we both are... albeit not running together this time around. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, we raised just over £7,200 for the MS Trust last time around, and hopefully we'll be able to raise something similar again this year.
There are hundreds of miles of training in front of me before I line up again on Blackheath at the end of April next year. and no doubt a whole load of time sat in doctors' waiting rooms too. I'm sure I'll cope. After all, I'm not dead yet.
It's getting to the point where I say that phrase so often that I'm thinking of getting it tattooed onto my left ankle, maybe with a 26.2 or a running man or something. That's my weaker side, where I've lost muscle mass and where the flexibility of my ankle has diminished. When I'm tired, it's my left foot that scuffs on the ground and occasionally trips me up. It's the left ankle that I put that brace on when I'm running long distances. It doesn't stop me, and I'm thinking of marking that defiance permanently so I can always be reminded of it, even if my circumstances do change. You're only beaten if you allow yourself to be, whether you can physically run a marathon or if it's a struggle to get out of the front door.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Don't waste time regretting the path your life didn't take.
Or, for young people, #YOLO.