‘It’s not what the MS has done to me that I hate the most – although, God knows that’s bad enough. No, the worst thing is what it’s done to my relationships and the people around me. My wife couldn’t cope and had to move out. Which I could understand. It’s not an easy ride, by any stretch. But you adapt. You have to. And things worked out okay, we stayed friends. Then she got this diagnosis of cancer, and went to pieces, and it drives me mad I’m not there to help her through it.’
I’ve met Alan before. I remember last time how impressed I was with his resourcefulness, his outward looking positivity, his creative response to the challenges of his illness. Despite a cruelly swift advance of his symptoms, he’d adapted his flat in enterprising ways; he’d kept up with his writing and his social media. He’d even managed to carry on performing his songs.
‘If they don’t like it they can always wheel me out,’ he says.
But the thought of his wife and her troubles has cast a pall on things – that, and a recent stay on a ward to be treated for a persistent UTI.
‘I think they ran out of beds and had to put me on a dementia ward,’ he says. ‘I never felt so lost.’
Petra, the OT, joins us. A happy coincidence. You can always rely on Petra to come up with an interesting story from her travels that puts things in perspective. When the consultation’s pretty much done, and we’re all sitting round the kitchen table, the conversation turns to other people’s expectations, societal norms, how limiting they can be if you let them.
‘I saw Rebel Without a Cause’ the other day,’ I say. ‘It was funny. All the teenagers looked about thirty.’
‘I think in the end it’s more about economics than rock n’roll,’ says Alan, taking a sip of tea. ‘I  think they invented teenagers in a lab sometime in the Fifties.’
‘All that age consciousness, it’s definitely a modern, Western thing,’ says Petra, ‘But it’s not like that everywhere. I remember working out in Zimbabwe for a while, and when I asked this guy how old he was he said he didn’t know, but I was born in the year of the many pumpkins.
‘I like that,’ says Alan, carefully putting his beaker down. ‘Yes. That’s good. I like that very much.’

2 thoughts on “rebel

  1. When I first started working in South Carolina near the coast, most of the old clients gave their age as the day of the Great Shake, or two years after the Great Shake, etc. That was the 1886 earthquake in Charleston, SC
    One lady told a story of a man cheating on his wife. He said “so help me God, I didn’t”. Then the earthquake started and scared him half to death.


  2. That’s a great story Sharon. I love the idea of dating yourself by some significant event. I was born in December 62, which was the worst British winter of the twentieth century. So maybe The Big Freeze?

    Love the story of the cheater, too. Although afterwards he must’ve thought there were an awful lot of sinners in Charleston (or maybe he already knew..)


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