Wednesday 24 August 2011

it takes guts to be gentle and kind....

Hard on the heels of the news - disclosed in the medical form that my GP filled in for our trip to Africa next month - that my MS is considered "well controlled", I had another welcome piece of news about my condition in the post today.

I was at the MS Clinic last week for my regular annual check-up. I'd love to say that this was an incredibly scientific process with all kinds of amazing scans and state of the art medical technology. It really isn't: basically it consists of a sit down and a bit of a chat with a consultant neurologist. If he's feeling particularly feisty, he might ask me to stand on one leg or try to walk in a straight line, placing one foot in front of the other. This time, he simply shone a pen torch into my eyes, asked me a few questions and then sent me away for the blood tests that make sure that my weekly injection isn't killing my liver.

Don't get me wrong: these neurologists are brilliant at their job, and QMC in Nottingham is a world-reknowned centre of expertise and research. I'm very lucky to live here, actually (and as the consultant pointed out, this concentration on neurology means that other conditions, like epilepsy, are distinctly underfunded here. That's not great, but as I don't have epilepsy and I do have MS.....) It all just seems a little haphazard.

Anyway. I got home this evening to a copy of the letter that the clinic have sent to my GP updating him on where I am with my MS. Essentially this says that I should continue on the same treatment that I'm on now and they'll see me again in 12 months. Fine. What caught my eye though is the little section detailing my diagnosis. There's not much there, and it's all very matter-of-fact, but what it says is fantastic news:

Diagnosis: Benign relapsing/remitting MS.



1. having a kindly disposition; gracious: a benign king.

2. showing or expressive of gentleness or kindness: a benign smile.

3. favorable; propitious: a series of benign omens and configurations in the heavens.

4. (of weather) salubrious; healthful; pleasant or beneficial.

5. Pathology . not malignant; self-limiting.

What this means is that -- touch wood -- based on everything that they have seen so far, there is every reason to believe that my MS is stable and is showing no signs of progressing. Self-limiting (we're agreed on meaning 5 above, right? I'm not going as far as to say that my MS is expressive of gentleness or has a kindly disposition, as such....)

Given that the whole point of MS is that it is a progressive condition, this is essentially (short of a cure) the best possible news I could have received since I was first diagnosed.... as ever, casually delivered to me, almost as an after-thought. My diagnosis was, you may remember, confirmed to me across a crowded ward filled with patients. Still, the way it was delivered doesn't change the news itself, which is good news. It could hardly be better.

This prognosis could obviously change overnight (and apparently as many as half of the people diagnosed as "benign" will eventually see progression in their MS), but you can only live in the moment, eh? Right now, my progressive neurological illness is not progressing.

I'm off to the pub.