Preface

I had been retired from the bank for six years when I felt I needed a project, something to focus on, a sense of achievement. There were only so many voluntary jobs, coffee mornings and household chores I could manage in a week. This is when the idea of writing this book emerged, prompted by my friends Bill and Ruth Humphrey. I have kept a journal on my PC from the beginning of my MS journey in 2001. 

My original intention was to catalogue my relapses, note down their length and severity and what medica-tion I took. I didn't intend for it to be anything more than that. Over the months and years, I started adding in thoughts and comments, to enable to me look back and see if there was a pattern to my symptoms and how I managed them. this journal became a valuable resource for my book. 

There were occasions when I wondered whether it was worth undertaking this writing project. A few weeks after I had started writing, I was contacted by a newly diagnosed lady who had found my number on the MS Society website. We met for coffee and I listened to all her fears and worries, the same fears and worries that I had seventeen years ago when I was diagnosed. She said that her family didn't understand what it was like to have MS and she felt very alone. I was very lucky; neither my family nor I knew anything about MS, but we learned together. 

I remember thinking while I was speaking to her that her timing couldn't have been worse. I had just become a grandmother for the second time, we were selling a rental property privately and I was trying to write a book. I really didn't have time to help others. Then suddenly I realised that actually her timing was brilliant.

 It wasn't her fault that she was diagnosed when she was; life doesn't happen in what we think is a logical order. There was never going to be a good time, so right then was fine. That meeting with a stranger reminded me why I wanted to write this book, to help other people with MS to understand that life can still be really good, and to tackle this beast head-on with positivity. Once the idea of sharing my story had been planted in my head, everything seemed to crystallise and before I knew it my fear of becoming a first-time author had turned into excitement. 

Writing my story has taught me lots of things about my MS and has highlighted what a mixture of experiences and emotions it has brought: anger, fear and tears sometimes seemed as though they would never leave me and then, increasingly, there were other times when I actually started to feel happy and contented. There were moments when I needed time alone, and moments when I desperately needed my friends around me. Writing this book and going public means dealing with people's reactions all over again and allowing myself to become public property. That is really scary, because I'm not just sharing my MS story, it's my thoughts, my feelings, my strengths and my weaknesses as well. 

The project has been a cathartic experience for me. It has helped me to leave the bad memories behind and to focus on taking the good memories with me into the future. it has given me understanding and the realisation that everything in life is temporary and nothing lasts forever. I would not wish to give anybody false hope; my wish in sharing my story is to give readers a better understanding of life with multiple sclerosis. 

If I inspire just one person with MS to overcome their fear or anxiety about this disease and lead a happy and healthy life, then my book will have been a success.