Every night I call my mum. We used to text, but now we just talk over the phone as it is easier for Mum.
For some people, a regular phone call home is less of a pleasure and more a result of a guilty conscience, but I cherish the time I spend on the phone with Mum. We may only speak for 15 to 20 minutes, but for those 15 to 20 minutes I feel completely connected to her, listening to the sound of her voice, trying to gauge how she’s feeling.
My mum was 40-years-old when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that attacks the Central Nervous System – particularly the brain and the spinal cord. To say my little family of three was knocked clean off our feet would be a huge understatement.
Dad picked me up from school that afternoon, which was a rarity. And when I climbed into the back of the car, I sensed something wasn’t right. He told me that Mum had a fall at work, hurting her elbow. Then his phone rang, it was Mum.
“I can’t move my leg, it’s numb. I can’t drive the car,” were the words that came screaming down the phone. I panicked, demanding that we drive to Mum quick. The rest of that afternoon is a complete blur.
After months of scans, MRIs, injections, and a misdiagnosis, we discovered that Mum had primary-progressive MS, and not relapsing-remitting MS like we had first thought. However, due to the lack of knowledge of the disease at the time, Mum’s prognosis was unclear. And as a 10-year-old who had already gone through health trauma of my own, to hear those words was terrifying.
I was completely oblivious to mysterious diseases like MS. I’d never heard of it, heck, neither of my parents had heard of it either. My dad brought me home brochure-upon-brochure-upon-brochure, full of information about MS to try to help me get my head around it all. But to be honest, it still confuses me to this day.
The first few years that followed her diagnosis seemed to fly by, with her reduction in mobility acting as markers along the bumpy road that was MS. First, Mum had a cane to give her stability whenever she was out and about, but that soon progressed to a walking frame, resulting in her having to give up some of the things she loved most; her job, her driver’s licence, and ultimately her independence.