The all-clear is within touching distance. Just a formality with a genetics professor; a box to tick, and we can assign the last two and a half years to that accepted medical condition, ‘one of those things’. Two and a half years of I don’t know how many symptoms, although I did count the MRIs (seven), the lumbar puncture (thankfully one), the EMG testing (lots, in one session) and the bottles of bloods (conservative counting: 100+). Embarrassing incidents in various states of undress with health professionals present: incalculable.
The results from the latest MRI are fine. The symptoms are fine; still hanging around like the last guest to leave the party, but not too bothersome while I crack on with the washing up. A neurology appointment that promises to be my last is sandwiched between glorious summer weekends in the best company; on the Roaches (with my hiking bestie), in the Clent Hills (teens) and chasing hidden waterfalls in quiet Cambrian forestry (just me).
My singledom threatens to sprawl into legend, my hiking bestie feeling it pertinent to discuss my status with her hairdresser. In Lincolnshire. I feel his head shaking pitifully from 200 miles away and imagine coming back at myself as a cautionary urban tale; one day trekking in Peru only to hear of the terribly tragic English woman who was single for *** long (yes, yes, I’m Welsh, but try explaining which part of England Wales is in to anyone in Croatia, let alone the Sacred Valley).
I hasten back to the dating app, where it takes all of three minutes to remember how easy it is to connect without making any connection at all. I get a few life histories and a long tale about the name of a guy’s boat. Someone whose profile tells me instantly everything, and precisely nothing, offers: “I’d like to go on a date with you because you seem really nice.” Inner thesaurus whirring through a dozen words more date-inspiring than ‘nice’, I delete the app and run off to the Malverns, where everything makes sense again.
I reach genetics as we’re settling back in the routine of a new term, Clent and other hills glimmering in the sunset-lit rear view mirror of a muddy T5. It’s going wonderfully until the professor asks to see my skin, and I realise he means the skin under my clothes. Shit, I’ve forgotten they do this, and I can’t remember whether today’s underwear is skin-examining suitable. In the first six months of neurology, I had health professionals asking me left, right and centre to take my jeans off; there were so many requests I think some might have come from hospital porters, to be honest with you. But then everything settled down and it’s been such a long while since a health professional, passing porter or anyone else, for that matter, has asked me to take my jeans off, I’m entirely unprepared. I weigh up the irony; when a consultant asks you unexpectedly to whip them off, you can only hope you’re wearing your biggest pants. In unanticipated non-health professional circumstances, you pray for your smallest.
Examination in acceptably medium-sized underwear over, the professor decides that my condition is, indeed, ‘one of those things’ and apologetically waves me out into autumn-fresh sunshine. I message the friends who’ve waited patiently in hospital corridors and supplied tissues and cake for two and a half years and tell them I’m nearly back at the car park, and that all-clear.
The next morning, the professor phones.
One of the possibilities that scared the most shit out of me among all the bottles of blood was a pretty unpleasant condition called nf2. We know I don’t have that (hooray!) but apparently it has a close cousin and perhaps I need to be tested for that too. No need for more blood – the professor seems confident there’s a sample of my DNA knocking about in a lab somewhere – but the results will take two to three months. I message all the lovely friends and ask for more cake.
That’s a long wait, says my hiking bestie. And it kind of is, but I’ve been doing this for two and a half years now, so perhaps it’s really not that long at all. With a bit of good timing, the results should show up for my birthday. Two years ago, my birthday present was not having MS but having some snow instead. This year, snow would be… you know, right now, I’d settle for nice.