Dear MS,

We have known each other for a while now. I was diagnosed 14 years ago, but you were lurking in the shadows long before. You take up so much space in my head! What on earth did I think about before you came along? Why won’t you leave me alone? Why won’t you leave the other 2.8 million people you affect alone?

You never let me have a break. You are always there, tripping me up. I wish I could go back to before you came. I would do so many things. Skip. Run. Think clearly. Not have a headache. Feel like I have some energy. Have more children. Work really hard. Play really hard. Have adventures. Feel no pain. Laugh until I cry. Talk about silly things. Remember things.

It was Patrick Kavanagh’s turn to come up the year I did my English Leaving Cert. exam. His lament about the Stony Grey Soil of Monaghan didn’t mean much to me at the time. The poem is basically an outpouring of anger and accusations against Monaghan for what it supposedly did to the poet:

“O stony grey soil of Monaghan
The laugh from my love you thieved;
You took the gay child of my passion
And gave me your clod-conceived.

You flung a ditch on my vision
Of beauty, love and truth.
O stony grey soil of Monaghan
You burgled my bank of youth!”

I get what Paddy K. was talking about now. Multiple Sclerosis- you are my stony grey soil of Monaghan. Will I ever stop thinking about you? Will I ever accept you? Will I ever stop hating you? This letter is to tell you that one day, you will be crushed by a cure. You will be a part of history books and nothing else. You will not win! It’s only a matter of time.

Until then, we must live together as incompatible adversaries. Tomorrow, the sun will come up and I will push you to the back of my head while I get on with my day. The dinner will be eaten, the messages will be done, I will have my afternoon nap, life will continue- good and bad. The news will tell me about conflict and wars. I am fighting my own battle against you and refuse to “go gentle into that good night”. I will “burn and rave” against the dying of the light.

Multiple Sclerosis, your days are numbered.  You WILL be defeated.

Yours sincerely,


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