Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Hi everyone!

Hi everyone!

You'll never guess who is going to be your diarist for a while! Oh! You already have! Yes! It's Ginge! Some of you may have gotten to know me a little through JJUK. I know I have enjoyed and learnt much from you all!

Thought I'd let you get to know me a little. Unlike many of you clever people out there, I haven't got degrees or mind-blowing qualifications.

My mum was dying of lung cancer and my dad had already died by the time I was 6 years old. My my brother wasn't cut out for 'emotional hospital stuff' even though he was 7 years older than me. Despite all this, I managed to get the princely total of 7 GCE qualifications (as they were known then).

But that's not all! Let's not forget my 25 yard Certificate for Swimming; my certificate to say I could measure and fit children's shoes; my trophy for winning 'Give us a clue' when I was in the management team in Debenhams Department Store, and numerous bottles of champagne for high sales in my retail days!!

What we often tend to forget is that it's the hard work we put into achieving anything that counts. We probably all know our limitations by the time we get to my age. Just stopping beating ourselves up over what we can or can't do seems an achievement in itself!

Having a brain tumour put a whole new face on the world for me (more of that in a future diary). Then being given MS - PP MS at that - turned even the smallest accomplishment into a glittering prize.

What these two 'gifts' have shown me is that human compassion, empathy with those in the same boat, sympathy for those who struggle but never seem to achieve are 'Oscars' in their own right. And don't forget the importance of laughter, lots and lots of laughter.

Without a sense of humour, however wacky, each day could consist of 24 hours of misery. When confronted by such a massive shock in knowing you have an unforgiving and relentless disease, a 'smile' can become just a word, laughing your socks off is what other people do, and your day can drag by, filled only with tears, rage, self-pity and hopeless despair.

These feelings are OK, you know! But to get your smile back, I think you have to fight your way through all those negative thoughts and fears. When you finally make it, and suddenly find yourself chuckling at a silly joke on TV or feeling joy at realising that you can still manage to have a night out with friends or a partner, that's the best prize of all.

For me, having a husband who is at home to care for me is the icing on the cake. We didn't plan early retirement - although he is on the old side! Just knowing he is there, somewhere around, to make me up a 'vodka cocktail' (just vodka and orange really!) or to patch me up when I fall over in the garden or just to hold me when tears find themselves streaming down my cheeks (and my mascara with it), then I thank God for my life, warts and all!

Keep smiling, lovely people! I need you!