Is it possible to live a good life while the coronavirus lurks in the wings?  Winter will tell...

Is it possible to live a good life while the coronavirus lurks in the wings? Winter will tell...

WINTER is coming and, as anyone who has watched Game of Thrones will confirm, this is not a good thing. 

The number of cases of Covid-19 is rising by the day and people are already talking about the social restrictions that are to come.

Some older people that I know are saying that they will not be willing to cocoon again if they are asked to do so.  They remember how hard and how lonely it was to remain indoors during the springtime.

They do not think they will have the mental fortitude required to separate themselves from their family, their friends, and their communities during the long, dark days of winter.

I can understand their thinking because I am about to join the ranks of those most at risk from the coronavirus.

As some of you who have been reading this column for a while will know, I have multiple sclerosis.

For the past number of years, I have not been taking any disease-modifying drugs because I felt well, and I was able to control the condition by following the OMS programme.  (This is a lifestyle programme in which you eat a healthy diet, avoiding certain damaging foods, exercise regularly, and learn how to deal with stress.)

That was until I had my most recent MRI scan.

My neurologist noticed increased activity in my brain and recommended that the time had come to start taking medication again.

She gave me three options: two of which were pills to take on a daily basis and the third which was an injection that I would have to self-administer three times a week.

The pills are immune-suppressing drugs, which means that if I were to take them, I would be at greater risk if I caught the coronavirus.

At first, I thought that this was reason enough not to take either of those two options.

That thought filled me with depression because I hate injections.  (When I was first diagnosed with MS, my only option at the time was to take an injection, which I duly did every second day for three years, so I well know the impact it would have on my daily life.)

But then I did some research into the medical studies that have been carried out into the three drugs and discovered that there was evidence showing one of them to be more effective than the other two.

One of the pills, that is.

I found it agonising to make a decision, but eventually chose the pill and will start taking it next week.  I have to admit that I am frightened.

Have I made the right decision?  Am I out of my mind to be starting on an immune-suppressing drug at this time when there is a long winter ahead and the coronavirus appears to be gathering pace once more?

On the other hand, multiple sclerosis is a serious condition.  An attack can cause you to lose your eyesight or your ability to walk or your control over any other part of your body.

Should I not protect myself as best I can against the possibility of that for my own sake, for the sake of my son and partner, and for the sake of my wider family?

These are the reasons why I am starting to take new medication from next week onwards and why I am terrified about what lies in store.

I know that I am going to have to be so careful about socialising with people, not just with strangers but with everyone - friends, family, and members of my local community.

I know that I will probably be advised to cocoon at some stage during the winter to come.

I will do what I can to keep myself safe and well.  But at the same time, I understand why some older people are already saying that they will not be willing to spend the entire winter by themselves at home.

For what is life without the company of family and friends?

From small talk with the postman to heart-to-hearts with friends over a cup of tea; the connections we have with others put smiles on our faces and lift our spirits.

This is true for us all, but especially for those of us who are elderly or sick.

We will all – including me – have to learn how to live good lives despite the coronavirus.

Otherwise, this coming winter may be the darkest one yet.