(This post has been a long time coming… The first time I sat down to type it we were in the middle of an eerie brown-out. I started typing it because I couldn’t change my Facebook status to comment on the brown out. “Trish is running down her laptop battery by a dim light”. While I typed, I knew that many of our neighbours were unaffected by the brown-out because the computer kept telling me that there were wireless networks in range. Just not ours. Pity our neighbours all password-protect their routers!
The second time, the router was to blame again… It seems that when I can’t get internet access, and therefore faff-about with wasting time on Facebook, I contemplate blogging (via a word doc draft) to fill the “void”.)
In April this year, I was invited to attend a luncheon at the Multiple Sclerosis Society which was held for key fundraisers and benefactors. I was invited along because of the MS Challenge that we had completed in 2005-2006, which culminated in L and me and approximately 20 other people enjoying mountain biking adventures around Mongolia.
After we had all eaten and listened to presentations by one of the MS ambassadors and some of the key support program staff, I moved around the table to strike up conversation with a young woman [“M”] who had been sitting opposite me for most of the meal. I asked her the reason that had brought her along to the lunch. M told me that she works for an insurance company who were having discussions with the MS Society about sponsorship and a partnership between the insurer’s products and the MS Society’s key events, such as the MS-read-a-thon. This is a small insurance company with what some would call a niche market; Ansvar are a Christian insurance company, and I have heard of them many times over the years because of the various circles of friends and Christian organisations that I am involved with or have been involved with. Ansvar have a daggy jingle that is regularly played on the “positive alternative” radio station which I infrequently listen to, but which many of my friends and housemates listen to regularly. So, my knowledge of what Ansvar is, which M normally has to offer explanation for (not like saying “I work for AAMI” which so many people have heard of) meant that there was an understanding of the unsaid, safe assumption; that we were both Christians. So, we chatted about Ansvar and bad radio jingles for a moment, and then got to talking about MS… and my reasons for being at the lunch.
It is fairly safe to assume that at an MS function I am going to be mostly at ease about saying “I have MS” when people enquire as to the connection or my motivation for being there. So, we chatted openly about that, and about her connection with the MS Society which was beginning to extend beyond the business relationship… A good friend of hers had recently been diagnosed with MS.
We chatted for a while and made promises to catch up for a coffee and continue chatting, because we could both sense a connection, an affinity, a “gelling” between the two of us. We exchanged emails and I went merrily on my way, late to my hairdresser appointment in Collingwood. A few days later, maybe a week or more, I dropped M an email to say that I had really enjoyed meeting her and was genuine in my desire to catch up for coffee. I was in the last stages of my first unit of the Diploma I’m doing, so I suggested that we perhaps catch up in May, when I would be less stressed by exam study.
Skip ahead a bit… time has passed and one or two brief emails have been exchanged between the two of us. Life is busy. Time is precious. I took a holiday; work was busy either side of that because of it… But, I felt a strong prompting to follow through with emailing M and trying to arrange a time for coffee, so I dropped her another email apologising for being a lazy cow, hoping that she hadn’t thought negatively of my unkept promise, and offering a couple of date options for coffee.
When I sat back down in front of my email the following Monday, I nearly fell off my swivel chair… The response went something like this:
“You are Not going to believe me, but I’m currently in a rehab hospital going through extensive therapy for…. MS.
I lost my speech and total mobility on my left side. In 2 weeks I have got my speech back and most of my mobility accept below my left knee. I am fortunate that I have retained all my feeling and sensation so a gammy foot is a small loss for the time being.
Trish, I do believe there was a reason I met you.
I have still not had time to grasp the concept of having MS, but what I do know is that my positive outlook and frame of mind is because of you.”
Since then, we’ve had one or two emails back and forwards, and I have also a brief phone conversation with a guy from the MS Society who fills multiple roles in M’s life; first and foremost being friend, then colleague, then and only now MS Society representative. I’ll follow through with the promise for coffee and see where it goes…