I have probably titled more than one post with “How did I get here?” And at different times, in different contexts, that question can mean different things. This time, it means that I am starting a sort of archeological dig into my recent past, looking for the first hints of multiple sclerosis. I’m pawing through journals – not always a good idea – to see if I can find hints that something was not right. It is going to be a long process – my journals, while they go back more than 30 years – were not always daily. There are many lapses, and days where I just did not feel like writing much. There are sections where I turned from hand-writing in blank books to writing on the computer and printing pages out. There was a spell where my hands were so cramped that I could not even hold a pen and so recorded entries on cassette tape. I know of two events, the hand-cramping and a bout of multiple mini-dizzy spells, that were probably early signals of MS. But even with my so-far cursory perusal, I find tiredness and fatigue showing up all over the place, maybe not just lack of sleep or being out of shape.
Reading these journals can be all-consuming, as I find episodes that I remember well and want to follow, as well as events of which I have no memory. It is fun to read about my life as a homedad with my children, but there are sections that border on painful, dark days and strange days. I had thought a while ago that I would leave instructions in my will that, after I died, these journals should be burned. I was tempted a few years ago to toss them into the fireplace and be done with them. Who would want to read them, I thought, especially if I don’t want to. In the end, I decided to leave the Collected Works with a note warning any readers that there are parts of the record that were written with an unballanced mind, parts that might be disturbing for some people. There are long sections that are me catharting all over the page, sections I would be emabarrased by. I’ve never hidden them away, never told anyone they were not allowed to read them.
I have fallen out of the habit of keeping a journal. I still write now and again, but my entries are far from daily. Laziness? Apathy? Boredom? Who knows. I’ll be sticking my head into those pages, snooping into what sometimes feels like someone else’s life, rooting out the first little hints of what would turn out to be MS. I’ll let you know.