The daily grind
Adrian Nelson reflects on his life’s trajectory since his MS diagnosis
It was 2008, I was a young enthusiastic company director driving 200 miles most days from my home in the East Midlands to customers in the West. The recession was starting to bite, and our customers were starting to have difficult conversations about their feasibility.
It was a most difficult time. So little surprise perhaps that when my right hand stopped working and I was having difficulty communicating, my thoughts fell to stress. Needless to say, after six months of tests, a house move and the folding of the business… it wasn’t stress! By the time I sat in front of the neurologist I’d already self-diagnosed, so I was prepared to learn that multiple sclerosis (MS) was the cause of my symptoms.
That was the end of that career. But can someone really be good for nothing at the age of 25? It turns out no, but there are caveats! I think it’s fair to say that there’s a ‘me before’ and a ‘me after’ diagnosis. The me before handled stress, worked like a Trojan and drank too much. Now, the new me doesn’t drink, has a healthier relationship with work and avoids stress at all costs!
It came to pass that my old career never really went away. I was fortunate that people who used to call on me still do so. I’ve never been shy to tell anyone about my diagnosis and though I’m light on the specifics, I think most people appreciate that things will take more time nowadays.
Coping with fatigue on a daily basis feels like an insurmountable challenge sometimes. As a computer programmer, who can no longer use both hands to type, life certainly is more of a challenge. But with time on my one good side, and a strange desire to not give in, when the opportunity arose to buy my favourite coffee shop, I was keen to put my time to good use.
Cup half full
More Coffee in Melton Mowbray was always a hub of social activity and there for me when I needed to feel not so alone. Together with a collection of other enthusiasts we bought the shop! It was an unexpected turn in my professional life.
I’m a part-time medical retiree, part-time computer programmer and coffee shop owner. None of these enterprises are as profitable as perhaps they once might have been, but if life has taught me anything, opportunity for professional development is not as important as personal fulfilment.
Taking it easy, avoiding stress and regular naps have brought me to 39, moderated by Tysabri. I’ve recently switched to Ocrevus which doesn’t, for me, bring the same daily benefits. My symptoms are coming back to the fore, and I rather suspect I’m in the next stage of my journey.
What this means for me professionally is largely unknown. I am appreciating the symmetry of this story starting with economic uncertainty and ending at a similar time. If I can offer a takeaway from my story, it would be this. Life is short, embrace the opportunity (but make plenty of time for naps). For some people opportunity is skydiving, for others it’s climbing Everest and for the really brave you could try buying a coffee shop just before a global pandemic. But for me, opportunity is rearranging your life to reflect what you want to do, what you want to be and being able to go to sleep knowing that whatever comes your way, you’ve got this.