a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force.
The last couple of years have been a real rollercoaster for my wife and I to say the least. Beginning with our engagement followed by my MS diagnosis, her father sadly passing away, me graduating from college, her changing jobs, our wedding and now to top it all off the birth of our son. It really has been a juggernaut of emotions.
I never pray but tonight I’m on my knees…
It was the morning of January 6th, the day before our son was born. My wife had been in the maternity hospital for the previous two days. They had kept her in as a precaution and stress levels were at an all time high. I wasn’t allowed stay with her but thankfully we live close to the hospital so I didn’t have far to travel back and forward. We were certain the baby would come today either under their own terms or with a bit of encouragement. I had The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony  resounding in my head the whole night and into the morning as I hoped and prayed to everyone I could think of to look after my wife and unborn child. “Well I never pray but tonight I’m on my knees yeah”. That morning there was still no sign of baby. <juggernaut begins> I had some time to kill before being permitted back in to be with my wife as we patiently waited for the doctors to tell us what the next steps were. I had run out of my Copaxone and Vitamin D prescriptions so decided to go to the pharmacy to collect the top ups. As I walked to the pharmacy I was on the phone to my Dad to give him an update on the baby situation. Still no update we just know baby’s heartbeat is fine. When I hung up I had a voicemail “This is Harvey Norman, we’ll be delivering your new washer dryer within the hour”. Fuck sake, last thing I need. When I got to the pharmacy they handed over the Copaxone without hassle as per usual.“Be sure to put it in the fridge as soon as you get home” . Thanks, I know. However, there was an issue with the Vitamin D. “You’re prescription is out of date Mr. Byrne”. It was a 6 month prescription and I gave it to you 2 months ago how is it out of date? (stress levels rising) “Sorry we could have lost it or you could have lost it we just don’t know” (feels vein forming on forehead) Are you fucking kidding me?  “You’re going to have to get a new prescriptionAargh! (storms out of pharmacy in dramatic fashion). <juggernaut gaining speed rapidly>

It’s a short walk from my house to the pharmacy. To be proactive I thought I would ring the neurology nurse, Jackie, to ask her can they re-issue my Vitamin D prescription. It would have been good to hear a friendly voice. Although it’s always tough to get a hold of Jackie, I knew I could at least leave her a voicemail and she would action my request as soon as she could. Unfortunately, however, there was an unfamiliar voice to replace Jackie’s voicemail message. “Jackie is on indefinite leave please ring the switchboard”. This was gut wrenching and not because there was no answer from the switchboard. <juggernaut in full flow> Jackie has been such a significant figure in my recovery and in me maintaining a healthy outlook. Although I’d only met her a handful of times she has had a major influence on my life. I do not know the reason as to why she is out of work indefinitely but I can only guess that she had been overworked and over relied upon. That seemed pretty evident from the few times we’d met.

The Vitamin D prescription could wait. Actually no, it couldn’t. <juggernaut out of control>I rang the pharmacy again to tell them it’s not my fault they lost the prescription. I had a proper go at the pharmacist which is not my style at all. He tried to get me to share the blame which I couldn’t quite understand. He said he wouldn’t leave me stuck and I could collect a months worth of Vitamin D but I’ve to get a renewed prescription in the meantime. Gee, thanks pal! The Harvey Norman guy arrived just as I’d hung up and straight away there was an issue with installing the new appliance which we had purchased specifically in anticipation for our pending arrival. For fuck sake I can’t catch a fucking break today! <JUGGERNAUT OF STRESS HAS TAKEN OVERAll the while my poor wife was in the hospital all by herself not knowing what the doctors had planned for her or how and when our baby would arrive. Luckily my Mam arrived at my house as I’d managed to send her an SOS call during the whole debacle. I left her to deal with the Installation issue as my head was so fried I could barely string a sentence together let alone think straight. (Thanks Mam!) I went straight into the hospital to continue where I’d left off the night before with my wife and play the waiting game and do whatever else was asked of me until our baby arrived.
You can’t park a juggernaut but you can drive one and direct it where to go…
On the walk from the car park to the hospital I had a few minutes in the open air to reflect on the events of the morning and how trivial they were. I don’t know why but breathing in the fresh air really helps me see sense of things when I feel helpless or hopeless. There I was losing the plot over stuff that’s simply not important in the scheme of things. I was on the way to see my wife as we prepared for our child to be born. We’d been waiting so long for this. Why would anything else matter? And what would another few hours or even another day matter? We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl but one way or another we would be seeing them very soon. I was no longer feeling hopeless, more hopeful.  Soon we would go through a myriad of emotions that just showed the mornings juggernaut of stress for what it really was; irrelevant. The nurses and midwives in the maternity hospital face much worse on a daily basis. Their kindness and sense of empathy while still being able to be bluntly honest is beyond admirable. Many of them reminded me of Jackie and how she was with me when I was first diagnosed with MS. The fogginess in my head and lack of train of thought experienced that morning brought me back to how I used to be when my MS was particularly bad. Stress can be a main contributor to so many illnesses and I am mindful of that now. So if I feel I’m acting particularly stressed I find it beneficial to reflect on the situation and perhaps change my approach if possible.
We were facing a whole new level of stress in the hospital but that was fine. We were in good hands. This juggernaut of emotions had a destination. Once we knew the end was in sight we were able to take the stress and anxiety built up over the previous few days and use it to keep us focused. It would be another 24 hours before our son Oliver was delivered into the world. Once he arrived all that we’d gone through in the days leading up to his birth had been mashed into one big blur only to be part of the story of how he came into the world. We jumped from a juggernaut of stress to a juggernaut of joy. It’s already been one hell of a journey and it’s only just begun…
Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.
Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), John Lennon
Vitamin D can be bought over the counter so there was never any problems with me accessing it. It’s just that it’s correlation with MS is so significant that the MS representative in the HSE really pushed for me to have it on my LTI card so that it cost me nothing to purchase each month. Roll forward 4 weeks from the day of his birth. Oliver, his Mam and I stopped by the pharmacy to collect my Copaxone prescription for February. Turned out the pharmacy had my Vitamin D prescription all along and were very apologetic over the stress they caused. Brutal timing for them to suddenly misplace it but made for a good story 🙂