It’s a start…

On Kadeena and cotton wool
7 January 2017
Mark and his colleague Javier front of pic, wearing blue jackets. We’re surrounded by Disney characters. And in the background is Michael Jackson.

A disabled person and friends, yesterday

Bounding into 2017 with a blog. Just as I intended to in 2016. And 2015 for that matter. Possibly 2014. Start as you mean to go on and all that!

Big anniversaries, nasty and nice, for me this year.

25 years since I was a proud ‘cast member’ of the Opening Crew of EuroDisney, now Disneyland Paris. My first job there was looking after ‘A’ List celebrities, as you do. Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, Eva Gabor. An endless bank of stories and memories there. And yes, in answer to your question, Michael was weird. I’m taking the family back there for the 25-year bash, 12th April. I’m super-excited about that, with lots of ex-colleagues I haven’t seen for a decade or more. Not looking forward to rolling up in a wheelchair though…
I’m in front in the classy blue jacket. MJ is skulking at the back… Young, shy, and very very famous… (him, not me…)

25 years too since the first Multiple Sclerosis symptoms sneaked into my life. I can recall the exact moment and the exact spot in my home French village, Esbly, when I was struck with intense pins and needles down my left-hand side. ‘Daggers and nails’ would have been a better description. They stayed for three horrible, exhausting days. Then disappeared as quickly as they had attacked me. I was a bloke and in my 20’s so of course I ignored it. A crap bladder quickly emerged in the following months. But living in France I could blame excesses of coffee and wine – and I could pee anywhere.

10 years since my official diagnosis. I had a good dozen or so years with very mild MS, even completing a third triathlon as recently as 2004… Strange things were afoot though. Worse bladder; stumbling on my left leg; strange sensations in my thighs; the odd spasm at night; no ‘performance’, for want of a better word, without a blue pill… Time to talk to countless GPs, neurologists, urologists, MS  nurses and take a barrage of tests. The diagnosis was relatively quick, and life would never be the same. For me, for my family, for my friends…

5 years since my first walking stick.That was a huge, horrible ‘surrender’ but at least it stopped people assuming I was drunk as I bumbled my way down corridors, tripped over steps and crashed into strangers. I’ve since accelerated through the gears to one crutch, then two crutches, with a ‘walker’ being delivered next week. Most of the time I’m in a wheelchair though…

5 years since my first hospitalisation for a ‘UTI’, Urinary Tract Infection. I know it was five years ago. We had just watched Mo Farah live at the stadium, winning his second gold medal of the London Olympics before we headed off for a UK holiday. That was rudely interrupted by a high fever, nastiness with my bladder, a 999 call and a blue-light excursion to Exeter hospital.Two nights in the Acute Ward on a drip.

1 year since my second UTI hospitalisation, this time during the Rio Olympics. Three nights. Drip again. My MS Nurse congratulated me on ‘only’ getting a bad infection every four years!

Some anniversaries that don’t quite fit any pattern. 18th wedding anniversary, 11th work anniversary. I am grateful in very different ways for my lovely wife and my amazing employers for sticking by me!

It’s going to be quite the year…


  1. Patrick says:

    Really pleased you have got this off the ground. Looking forward to readig more blogs.

  2. ktchipmunk says:

    Hope you keep this going, I'll be reading! Inspirational, congratulations for seeing the bright side and adding humour to every situation.

  3. Michael says:

    Great first post and looking forward to further posts. biggest physiological hurdles for me were my first walking stick and then using a wheelchair – which I saw as a defeat rather than removing barriers!

  4. Thanks Patrick. It's all there in the head. Just have to find the energy, time, and gaps in the brain fog to put them out… No challenge there…

  5. Thank you! Will try my best..

  6. Thank you kindly. January 1 always a dodgy day to start anything… We shall see!

  7. Yup. I think at each stage I saw a 'defeat' looming, but each time I gracefully (or not so gracefully) accepted, it was always, always the right thing to have done. Agree on stick being the worst, and expected wheelchair to match that. It wasn't the case as it turned out. Once I'd whizzed round the hospital corridor I was fine… The walked I am currently dreading…

  8. sue arondel says:

    Hip hip hurray to you! I am looking forward to your next posts. Happy New Year to you & your loved ones 🙂

  9. Thanks Sue, and to you and yours. You have been such a constant support over the years. Hope I can snaffle a hug in April!

  10. Unknown says:

    Love it Mark – a source of inspiration for us all

  11. Thank you. Now I just need to keep it up!

  12. Unknown says:

    Hello Webbie,
    Already looking forwar to your next post!
    Nice to see you will be around in April.

  13. Oh yeah! Can't wait… Nearer the time I'll be in touch..

  14. Linda Julian says:

    Such a great outlook on life. Gracefully with humor.

  15. Thanks! Every so often it's tough but generally I can (genuinely!) keep smiling…

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