Thursday, 29 October 2009


Nothing of interest has happened to me in the disease fighting world this week. A healthy week all around. I've been fine. Totally ok. So let me tell you about my friend Samuel. He's fighting a really nasty disease. His disease is Robert Mugabe. His disease has already killed members of his family and robbed him of his home. I've been recording his story now for several months. By day he pretends to be a janitor but like Hong Kong Phooey he is really something totally different. Just as mild mannered though.

Born in South Africa to Rhodesian (as it was) migrant workers he lived in the townships of Soweto (Zone 12 he tells me). On June 16th 1976, aged 13 he walked to school as the Soweto uprising raged around him. His parents moved him to the relative safety of Rhodesia that Autumn to live with his Uncle. In November he attended a rally where Joshua Nkomo implored young people to leave Rhodesia, seek an education in exile and be ready to return to the country as the rightful majority rulers. The following Spring after borrowing money from his Uncle on the pretext of buying training shoes he bought a bus ticket to Botswana and began the long journey into exile. He was determined to change his countries fortunes - to over turn the minority white rule of Ian Smith's government. From Botswana he went to Zambia where under the guidance of Zapu he was educated, first in Lusaka and then in Sofia, Bulgaria with members of the young ANC.

He returned to the new Zimbabwe to discover Mugabe and his Zanu PF had prospered where Nkomo's Zapu had failed. For him and many others the freedom that revolution and independence were supposed to bring became a nightmare. Members of his family, including his beloved Uncle were rounded up by Mugabe's dreaded Korean trained Fifth Brigade. His uncle was found dead at the bottom of a mine shaft. Samuel fled to the relative safety of South Africa - a country ruled by the apartheid policy of the National Party.

So when I'm feeling sorry for my self about a bit of MS I go and chat to Samuel.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The terrorist within

Why is it always a surprise? It shouldn't be really - it happens often enough. But its the same every time. For some reason after two or three weeks without any sign of the ms its just a complete outrage when it reappears. Of course you don't really think it's gone...but you can never really remember what it feels like to have that numbness creep down your arms until it creeps down your arms. At that point I tend to say...aahhhh there you are.

Or am I'm beginning to personalise the ms too much? Shouldn't I remain in defiant anger with it? I should of course refuse to negotiate with it until it withdraws completely from my body. Or perhaps it's time to talk to it. I could demand a phased withdrawal from my arms (the ms equivalent of disarmament) before I would discuss terms for peace. Of course I would have to agree not to inject hamsters whilst discussions took place. There would be an agreement to allow an MRI scan under the watch of UN monitors. There would then be much diplomatic coming and going (probably in Norway) whilst we agreed the terms for a ceasefire. But then no doubt one of us would break the conditions. Some rogue element would remain in my hands ready to attack....and would I really trust it enough decommission my syringes? Surely I'd keep some in hiding at the back of the fridge.

Maybe I am taking this too personally after all.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Got to get up to get down

What is the correct etiquette for giving up your seat? We had a right old game of musical chairs on the Tube the other afternoon. The walk from Northern line to Central line at Bank is a ridiculously long one followed by loads of stairs up, and up and up by which time my legs were feeling decidedly shaky. I've been very healthy this week - I've been in Moscow so it's probably the vodka - but when my leg, especially my right leg goes numb it's a pain in the arse. Well...slightly lower to be more accurate. So it was a relief that I could find a seat on the Tube. Then some old lady with a walking stick gets on, so I feel obliged to get up. Next stop an even older man with stick gets on. Two people simultaneously get up for him leaving me with the chance to take one of the newly vacant seats. I get a slightly dirty look from the now standing youth that was being generous to the old man with stick but not to the middle aged man with shaky legs. What are the chances of this though...? At the next stop an even older lady but without a walking stick gets on. She stands staring at here's the she old enough to get the seat? Do I have enough MS to keep the seat? Is my MS visible enough to let other passengers know I'm not being a selfish bastard. As the door starts to shut I can take it no longer...I get up...the old lady gets the seat.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Bloody Good Riddance

Now it’s all kicked off...the phlebotomists have been sacked and a new company of phle people bought in. I’m not surprised. The last vampire to visit me may have arrived on time but...

I haven’t got my kit with me he says

Now when I was a kid if you forgot your PE kit you had to do the gym session in your underwear...and let’s face it at the age of 7 it was no big deal. Now call me old fashioned but the idea of blood man taking three phials of blood, and various other readings dressed in his underpants wasn’t appealing. Then it turns out his “kit” is pretty much everything he needs except the clothes. Needles, thermometers, gloves, steri-wipes, test tubes, glass plates for doing weird stuff with. You name it he didn’t have it. It was a bit like me turning up on stage and realising I’d forgotten a keyboard. Which all joking apart did actually happen once. Very embarrassing...had to leave stage, go back to dressing room, get the keyboard, return to stage, plug it in....

I digress, so anyway phle-man says...Do you mind if I nip back to the office and get my kit. Quite what the alternative was I’m not sure, it was hardly a case of some hot water and towels sufficing.

Of course say I...where is the office?


Hammersmith? Hammersmith is an hour drive each way in a post apocalyptic London where all other vehicles, traffic lights and speed cameras have been destroyed. By now it’s 45 minutes to rush hour. I’ll be lucky if I see him tomorrow.

And now it looks like I’ll never see him again. So farewell inefficient blood suckers. Let’s see some phlebotomists with some real bite. Tomorrow I go to Moscow and when I return the new company will take three phials of vodka from my veins.