For the past twelve months the tide has been turning in favour of MSers. An equality of disadvantaged living was shared with non-MSers. For the first time in my near 40-year relationship with an illness that had robbed me of my independence, I felt no pressure to justify myself or my stick out there where I live, on the mean streets of Hemel Hempstead.
Previously, thoughtless, selfish strangers showed little respect for a man and his carer trying to negotiate safe passage along the High Street. Then came lockdown and with it a miracle of sorts began to change hearts and minds towards us. Like Moses parting the Dead Sea they peeled away whenever they saw us, allowing myself and Lizzy, my wife/carer, to pass through.
Previously I had gotten into the habit of saying, with authority, “EXCUSE ME!” just to manoeuvre past static human clutter blocking the way. But not anymore. Because of Covid, however, over this past year awareness and courtesy towards Lizzy and myself has been something that we had not previously been used to. But nothing lasts forever.
As Pfizer and Oxford AstraZeneca have begun to take the country out of lockdown, I am aware of how precarious this could be for the MS community. Human nature dictates the level playing field that put everyone at a shared disadvantage will once again become skewed, leaving MSers to play catch-up with the same people who were once our equals.
Yet I cannot be alone in thinking what is now possible for COVID-19 can also be probable for MS. If the medical fraternity could come together to find a cure for an otherwise previously unknown disease called Coronavirus, then who is to say there will never be a vaccine to fool our bodies into repairing the myelin?
As the world slowly gears up for a return to normality, MSers will be left to carry on exactly as we did before lockdown with no discernible difference. The world never stopped turning for us, which perversely gave MSers an advantage over non-MSers. Previously they knew nothing of our world but because of circumstances beyond their control – sounds familiar? - they begrudgingly had to share it for one whole year.
As Captain Sir Tom Moore said, tomorrow will be a good day, which mirrors what I feel about MS and what I can do about it. We have MS Awareness Week (April 19th - 25th) and World MS Day (May 30th) and post lockdown that is where my energies will again be focused.
Previously a writer of comedy and satire for stage, radio and satirical clubs, Martin was contracted to write a musical for the Westend and Broadway inspired by his best-selling book, “To Be Or Not To Be, Innit, a Yoof-Speak Guide to Shakespeare”.
After several MS relapses which curtailed his writing career for several years, Martin has successfully rebuilt his life as a Multiple Sclerosis Blogger and Influencer.
Instagram: @martinhbaum @serenityonsea