Chapter 1 – What I meant to say…
“We have a family of Christian penguins living in our bathtub.”
People were falling around me in hysterics. Did I really just say that? Yes, yes I did. It was only made better by the five words that preceded it.
“What I meant to say…”
Yes I really had just uttered the fabulous phrase –
“What I meant to say was, we have a family of Christian penguins living in our bathtub,” in earnest seriousness.
The icing on the cake was saying “what I mean to say” when what followed turned out to be so not what I meant to say. The statement I was trying to correct was that we had a family of crested pigeons living in our bathroom. I meant to correct bathroom to backyard. OK, ok I am not even going to attempt to explain why my scintillating social life saw me having a conversation about crested pigeons in the first place.
As an addendum I should add I have since become friends with a man who did his PhD on crested pigeons – ah the pigeon plot thickens. I’m not even going to address why one of my friends calls me the Pigeon Shamer – not that is another story entirely!
Back to that great sentence though. Those unforgettable words were uttered before I even knew I had MS. I had by then, however, brushed off some tingling in my hands and feet with the great laugh “as if you have MS!”
I hate being the last to get the joke but…
I first thought as if you have MS back in the late 1980s when I was studying Biomedical Science. It is easy to imagine symptoms of every disease you learn about and this time I wasn’t falling for it. Ha, the one time I got it right, the joke really was on me! It wasn’t until 2014 that I actually got diagnosed after a weird and whacky twenty plus years of symptoms I didn’t even know could be MS.
Luckily, misspent words are one thing that will always provide a laugh. Our MS brains get jumbled and can throw us completely disparate, nonsensical words mid sentence, mid thought even, written and spoken. You’ve got to laugh.
There was the time doing resilience and job readiness training for the long term unemployed when I could no longer say “purpose”. All I could manage was “porpoise” so I put on my Noo Joisee (New Jersey) mafioso accent every time for the words after it. It was during the first of such trainings I actually got my diagnosis but that’s another story.
Other great moments in MS were running a Year 11 Physics class talking about “The Orth’s Erbit”. For the life of me I could not manage Earth’s orbit. Fortunately my students knew about my MS and I’d warned them about sometimes saying odd things so they need to listen and correct me if warranted. Because they knew, they humoured me for this one.
There is the 5 minute meditation I am doing with my morning class at the moment where for days on end I’ve only been able to say “Medication” not “meditation”. I guess if the words fits.
Not all is doom and gloom having a chronic disease. Oh don’t get me wrong there is plenty but there is also a lot where you’ve got to see the funny side.