Well, shit.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
-Maya Angelou

Basically, the entire year of 2016 can go fuck itself.  I mean, it got off to a pretty unforgivable start when it took David Bowie from us all, but it looks like it had no intentions of quitting its utter bullshittery until it was over.


Anyone who has read the last couple of posts will know I’ve been struggling with vision issues in the one eye I actually have any usable vision in, and yesterday, following some pretty unpleasant tests that involved putting electrodes in between my eyelids and my actual eyeballs, I got some news.  It turns out there is evidence of damage to the optic nerve behind my right eye, which confirms I have been experiencing optic neuritis (swelling of the optic nerve).  Although my vision is not back to normal, this could potentially be it, as far as recovery goes, which would be a real inconvenience to my entire life.  However, I’m hopeful, having read some first-hand accounts online of people suffering from the same thing, that I could experience further improvement in time.  In fact, it can apparently take up to a year to fully ascertain what the end result could be.  I feel it is prudent at this juncture to mention that patience is not one of my virtues, so I was not thrilled with this time frame, though I admit I was comforted that my sight could get a little closer to what I think of as ‘normal’.

The real kick in the balls was the fact that confirmation of optic neuritis, coupled with the lesions in the white matter on my actual goddamned brain that showed up on my scans, point to multiple sclerosis being the culprit for my vision issues.  Following a conversation with neurologists, my eye specialist also said that the lesions appear to be new, ruling out the possibility that it was residual scarring from the congenital toxoplasmosis in my left eye.

Now – as this is technically, at the moment, an isolated incident, I have no official diagnosis.  There is the chance that this is a freak, one-off body fuck-up.  However, when I aggressively questioned the specialist he did concede that it was unlikely to be caused by anything else, all things considered.  He also mentioned that the exercise-induced blindness I’ve been experience may or may not go away, so now my future cycling plans are on the chopping block.  So thanks, Mother Nature, you absolute cunt rag, for potentially taking away from me the one thing that I learned to love after running.


Also off the cards: rock climbing.  Thanks, James, for taking a blind girl out climbing on wet rocks on Christmas day.  I had a blast.

From here it looks like I am going to be having a chat with a neurologist.  Apparently they may want to do another brain scan, and potentially a spinal tap (fuck my life) in an attempt to make a diagnosis, and then take it from there.  I was put on the waiting list a couple of weeks ago, so I’m looking forward (I guess) to hearing from them and snagging an appointment.

What really tugs at my gut about this whole thing, apart from the unfairness of it all, is the timing.  I was enjoying life.  In fact, I had applied for a sabbatical from my job and I was meant to be, right this moment, packing up my life in Aberdeen and moving to London for a 6 month job there to help me save up for a summer of touring around Europe on my bike, writing, and saying ‘yes’ to any and every opportunity.  The letter granting my request for a sabbatical arrived in the midst of my dad’s visit, and it has all had to be put on hold until I figure out where I’m at.  My adventure was meant to be just starting.

I guess my feelings about this can be fairly accurately summarised by my mother’s response when I called her to tell her the news:

“Well, shit.”

I’m all about overcoming adversity.  Saying ‘fuck it’ to problems and carrying on.  Laughing in the face of catastrophe.  But right now?  Right now I’m in a dark place where I am ugly crying in the shower, letting my mind dwell on worst-case scenarios, and letting the tenacious claws of anxiety take hold.  I feel like ripping all of my plates from the kitchen cupboard and hurling them with all my force at a brick wall.  I want to run as fast as I can up a mountain until I collapse with burning lungs.  I want to scream until I’m hoarse and gasping for air.  I want this all to go away.

But it won’t.  And while there’s no point in throwing myself a pity party, and nobody likes a whiny bitch, I think I’m just going to take ten from reckless positivity just now and revel in my misery, thanks very much.  I’m convinced that once the dust settles, I’ll be ready to ‘rise’ and crack jokes about making a clean sweep at the next Paralympics, but for now, I’m going to fucking wallow.  For the rest of the goddamn year.

18 thoughts on “Well, shit.

  1. Not much that any of us blogger friends can say to that Rachel, other than you know you have our ‘virtual’ support and best wishes. Hopefully you’ll accept any meaningful support, advice and assistance that’s available to you.

    On a tangent, that’s a powerful piece of writing. You really ought to consider putting your stuff out to a wider audience.

    Best wishes going forward and there aren’t many that will be sad to see the back of 2016.

    • Thank you. It might sound silly, but it does make me feel better knowing people are reading about what I’m going through, even if I’ve never met them. There’s definitely something to be said for connecting with other human beings in times of distress.

      • No worries. You are facing more than most of us. We worry about PRs and trivial shit. Your post helps ground me. I’m too far away to offer any help, but if you come to Boston for care we can offer a room. I work across the river from MGH. Don’t worry about us.

  2. I don’t know what to say other than echo your mum’s “well, shit”.
    It won’t change anything, but sometimes you need to wallow for a bit before you come back fighting. We’ll all be here when you’re ready.

  3. Well it sucks that my first comment would be on this post, even though I’ve been a reader for a ling time. And I don’t even know what to say, other than to tell you that it truly does suck… and I’m sorry…

  4. Thinking of you and you are right, this fucking sucks! My mantra the last 7 weeks has been, “go home 2016, you’re fucking drunk”… may you have continued healing. That is the energy I’m putting out for you. xx

  5. Wow, did not see that one coming. Thinking of you and if I can be of any help or support let me know. I know you are a fighter, so this is only a temporary setback. Love and hugs xx

  6. That’s pretty shitty. In fact it’s very shitty.

    As someone that’s had a few Spinal Taps, I wouldn’t “research” them, just have them.

    Here’s hoping that 2017 sorts itself out.


  7. If this is in any way unhelpful, please ignore, but one of my local internet friends was diagnosed with MS several years ago and since has run several marathons and even done a few Ironmans. It may not be something you want to deal with yet, especially since it sounds like there are still tests to be run (I mean, I’d be blackout drunk for a few months or so myself), but if you ever want to talk with someone who is managing neurological issues while still participating in endurance sports, she is super sweet and approachable. Shes @MilesAndTrials on twitter. Otherwise, thinking of you and hoping for the best!

  8. Rachel started reading you and red wine runner as motivation, you have given me that over the last couple of years. Changing into heels before crossing the finish line of D33 fucking classic! Injury and indignation of transitioning to a bike WTF! But over time getting you buzz from two wheels rather than two running shoes. Your a talented, unorthodox, inspirational writer. Keep up the good work we vicarious wierdos need people like you. My 2017 goal to cross the Paris marathon in loubitain, do they do man sizes? Best of luck….

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