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November was a busy month that started with a mixture of good and bad; the bad being the Neuralgia is moving into the lower part of my mouth and at times visiting my tongue, which is a real pain partly because it stops me wanting to talk and secondly because it is incredibly painful. I just hope it subsides as I dread the thought of another long period waiting for a repeat procedure to relieve the pain. Up until the 8th of the month I’ve had very little rest from this bloody Neuralgia and it frustrates me as once again I feel myself withdrawing into my shell and at quiet times I feel particularly low, but - and there is always a but, eating is a problem so my diet will bnefit and secondly I’m not so loud! Anyway, who knows what tomorrow might bring and just maybe it’ll take a rest. I have a touch of deja vous - I really hope all this is a blip but we’ll see.

I had a belated birthday dinner with my son which was a treat to spend some quality time with him as we see very little of each other. Yes he is now a man with a beautiful girlfriend in Ohio and yes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; he also loves the States and appears, like me, to have found the love he desired. I wish him well of course and am sad I won’t be with him this Christmas as he will be over there and I am going to be close, but not close enough. 2019 both he and his girlfriend will be in the UK so hopefully I will get to see them more often. Anyway the dinner was super and we chatted away - and for that short time I felt properly like a Father and Son and I was touched. Thank you son.

I had a weekend treat with my Sister when we visited a pub for what was a good friends’ 60th and actually my sister was a good friend of his sister too - have I said that right? Never mind, my ex-wife will be laughing and cussing as she corrects my grammar and punctuation! (He didn’t and I did!!) Anyway, that was also a nice catch up with these two and their family. For me it may have been 40+ years but honestly, they hadn’t changed - older, yes but still just as I remember. Boy how time flies.

I also had lunch again with my regular companion, and I have to say it was a really good one - we thoroughly enjoyed it and caught up on the past few weeks. I’ve come to realise that she leads a far busier life than I do! We’ve already booked our Christmas lunch.

I’ve also been to the cinema twice recently - both times to watch the same film - Bohemian Rhapsody about Queen. It was fantastic. I love Queen and as I’m typing this I’m remembering Fat Bottomed Girls, the track I always played when entering a bar in the States! Great memories all round. I also travelled up to Sutton Coldfield for dinner with someone who has become a good friend and met one of her daughters who was lovely, much like her mother. We chatted about anything and everything which was delightful. Driving back, although I was on the right route, there were road works which slowed me down considerably but I sang to all the classics and really enjoyed the time in the car. I also took a trip down to Swindon to visit a friend who recently left her job to study. Whilst I was looking forward to seeing her I was also a little apprehensive about this visit as I felt we hadn’t left on the best terms when I’d last seen her but I was mistaken, she was delightful company. Her new place was great and lunch was exceptional. I had no idea she was a great cook.

The following weekend was very slow, almost certainly due to the travelling about and generally being busy which put a strain on me. The Neuralgia was playing up and I felt lethargic and lacked energy to the point that on the Sunday I didn’t shave or worry about my appearance. I just sat all day, physically drained. I’ve learnt that this is just my body telling me to slow down but sometimes that’s easier said than done. I won’t let this illness get a grip of me and I know my expectations have altered since stopping the MS drugs. I realise I need to seriously look at the situation and know that very soon I have visits with my MS nurse and the Consultant coming up. We’ll see - all I keep thinking about is that the drugs I had been on were making me ill and gave me what is known as the JC virus, which can and did affect my brain. I also know that when you read the benefits of all these drugs, the side effects are equally worrying so I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I’ve tried to increase my exercise regime which I think may, in turn have caused my body to be slower as it appears the more I do the worse I feel. Then there is my food intake and yes, I know I mention this quite a bit, but at times, mainly in the evenings, I get so low and lonely that I comfort eat. Silly perhaps, but honest.

It’s Sunday morning and I‘m wondering where November disappeared to. Half of it has flown by and I’m thinking perhaps I should start getting stuff ready for my stay over the pond. I know the weight in my case will be too much as I have a page-a-day diary for the mate I’m staying with as he reckons they can’t get them over there. Then I have a small amount of Cadbury’s chocolate as it really is superior to the stuff you get over there and another mate likes cheese and onion crisps which again they can’t get. I decide that for once I won’t bother packing a load of clothes. My intention is to relax, slow down and do very little. I’ve been thinking about the time I spent in the States a lot over the past couple of weeks; the success and failures of work and the amount of the country I got to see, then with a mixture of feelings I think about the people who became my friends and how I met them all and finally I dwell on how this MS affected me and I the fact I had no clue that it was developing into a full blown illness. I felt I was on form in my first close relationship – that I was my old self, but then I think harder and realise perhaps I with hindsight that I had restrictions showing already. There was a tingling sensation running through my body, lack of balance and a string of others things that didn’t seem much at the time but I carried on as I wanted the business to succeed and to become a permanent resident as I genuinely believed my last would be for life and had planned to propose. I ‘d worked it all out as I was convinced it was all going to be perfect - in my mind, work was going to turn a corner and be a success and I would be ok. If only I had realised. But actually there was nothing I could’ve done to stop this MS taking hold. Maybe if I’d known I could’ve stopped myself falling in love to protect not only me, but her. Life can be cruel, but I know is I’ve benefitted from everything I did and I know that over there I mixed with some good people and made good friends. Here at home I’m struggling to move on - yes people see me smile and being my usual witty, flirtatious self but they don’t see the emptiness. Damn, I have to stop again because I’m blubbing. I suppose it’s an indication that all is not right or just that today I am particularly emotional listening to Sunday love songs - hey, who knows, I certainly have no answers or indeed reasons as to why I have been hit with all this. I know I’m not a bad person. In 2019 I have to sit and work out where and what I want and go for it. I do believe I am coping well at the moment with this illness and I’ve gradually had to learn to live with it and accept how much it has turned my whole life upside down but as the months go by (and it’s a big but) no one really knows what the future holds with this MS thing.

Have you ever wished that things were a little different and someone could come into your life as a great match for you? Someone who could make the years pale into insignificance when you recognise their openness, kindness and if you’re really lucky, that magic ingredient or sparkle? Today I had a visitor who not only handed me belated gifts for my birthday, which was lovely but also lifted my spirits. As we sat drinking coffee and chatting she was kind about my little bungalow and made me feel warm; a feeling I last had when living in America, but I also felt good about things generally. She made me realise that to her my MS was something she accepted because my qualities outweigh the negatives about me. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it gave me hope and a bit of optimism that if someone can accept me with this illness, then 2019 could well be my year. I was really touched by how this lady made me feel and I also want to be there for her as she is one of life’s genuine people and she’s also been through tough times recently. I’m not quite sure why I’m writing this – maybe because the feelings of being useless and coping with this MS for the past few days have brought me down and the fact that just a short time in the company of someone so accepting, lifted a cloud.

Before you all start jumping to conclusions, this person is a lot younger and settled - I was giving a what-if scenario. But hey, all I know is that another beauty is in my diary!!!

This week turned out to be a week of visitors starting with a couple I have known since I was thirteen. They’ve remained part of my life for so long it’s actually quite amazing. I’ve been here and there living my life all over the place and they have never really changed. They’re a great couple and great company. I had a second lunch date with my usual companion, again, lovely company, then later in the week an old work mate visited. As usual we laughed so much and I’m sure visits like this do help in some way as he asks for advice and we reflect on how things used to be. So it was a great week all in all.

The weekend really could have been a busy one but something doesn’t feel quite right with me. My friend, who now lives in NC (North Carolina) popped in which was great and I had planned a Friday night out but I just didn’t feel up to it. Seeing my mate was a refreshing break; we talked for some time and it was nice listening to how life is treating him. On Sunday I cooked my lovely signature Chicken Chasseur and watched the local football match on TV with a female! I’m a little concerned that you might think I’m a bit of a gigolo but I assure you I am not. I just enjoy female company and actually sometimes wish there was a special one out there especially in the lonely times and a female to share more than the odd film and afternoon tea would be welcome. Anyway the food from the faithful crockpot, was excellent, although the game was not.

I have recently completed all my travel arrangements to visit my old stomping ground. Arranging assisted flying is actually quite easy these days which is a change. Hotels, coach trips and insurances soon all mount up but this blog will have a new influx of different people and different back drops and no doubt a completely different set of health issues - hopefully for the better as it will be warmer. The fact that I’ll be away for Christmas and avoid all the hastle will make things simpler and I’ve said for some time now that I don’t want presents but presence (see what I did there?!) but it’s something I think is forgotten. As I get older it certainly is the case and I suppose having no one in my life has made Christmas lose its appeal. I know I sound dreadful, but as always, honest. I remember with fondness Christmases, in particular watching my son growing to love this time of year. I remember putting on a Santa outfit and having my usual black brogue shoes on and them being recognised! I’ve been fortunate in also bringing up three other children, so Christmas does indeed hold lovely memories. My ex wife’s daughter always brings a smile to my face as we had good times at Christmas too. This year however, I may be sitting on a beach having a shandy or just people watching but what I do know is that I will be with my mate having a laugh.

I will end this month’s blog with an update on my visits with the MS nurse and the Consultant. The general opinion was a positive one; they recognised the fact that I looked a lot better and that I was now living with this illness and the lack of drugs, surprisingly, was acknowledged and understood. A CT scan has been booked - for those who don’t know, a CT scan looks at the brain, (yes I do have one,) and they will identify any increase of activity with the MS. It’s complicated, but at least I will get piece of mind. I told them about the Neuralgia and the fact that for the past few days it has been calm but they were not overly concerned. In general they advised me to carry on as I am, and yes, try to improve the diet, easier said than done and to exercise a bit gentler to allow time for my body to adjust. I left feeling good about myself and the levels I have reached regarding improvement and the way I lead my life.

That really is it for November, December, will of course be different, mid-December I travel to Sarasota in Florida and it is Christmas. Until December…

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