Sunglasses. Earplugs. Antibacterial wipes. Small perfume dispenser. Plasters.
Key ring with a medical sign. Batteries for mobile phone. Detailed emergency list. Extra medicines.
These are the ‘just-in-case’ items I always have with me when I leave the house.
During a recent visit to the cinema, I realized that my handbag was missing a few of these items. I was hoping my viewing of “Murder on the Orient Express” wouldn’t turn nasty; unfortunately, it did.
Two days before seeing the film, I experienced facial pain which reduced my adaptability to endure the increased, sudden sound effects and flashing lights of the film. Wearing earplugs and sunglasses in the cinema might look funny, but they serve a purpose. Not being one to give up, I stayed and watched the film. This was one murder case I would watch until the end.
I filled my ears with paper tissues, and tried to listen instead of watch. Neither worked.
The balance between do’s and don’ts is just a small one, but it is one I should have paid more attention to this time. I should’ve listened to the thoughts in the back of my mind telling me to check my handbag once more before leaving the house.
I sometimes feel that MS is an illness that knows how to let its unpredictable symptoms make an entrance. The “just-in-case” items exist for a very good reason. Call it a survival kit, or an “I so will not give in to you”’ rescue bag. At some stage, though you may not want to admit it, you will need that bag of goodies. I learned this the hard way.
One day while grocery shopping, I was nearing the tills when a sudden, very loud bang resounded throughout the supermarket. Being blessed by a set of otherwise well-working ears, I buckled over; it felt as if a lightning bolt just travelled through my ear, eyes, and side of my face. In that split-second, I wished for nothing more than to be wearing my earplugs. Trigeminal neuralgia, rather like “facial pain on steroids,” just told me it was back with a vengeance.
If I had my earplugs in that day, I would have been able to continue my shopping.
Nobody can control their environment all day, every day, nor should they be expected too. Even after years of trigeminal neuralgia making unexpected arrivals, I still cannot find a way of being completely prepared for episodes like these. Over time, things have been added to the handy handbag out of necessity. People have asked why I keep so many practical items in my handbag I laugh it off thinking “would you like to swap your central nervous system for mine for a day?”. If you know that unexpected MS symptoms have upset events in the past, boosting your bag with a few extra items could be the difference between sadly needing to go home, or happily staying until the end of an event.
I’ve become truly attached to some of my MS-related items. For example, because of osteoarthritis in my neck, I wear a scarf every day, even when I’m home, and never leave the house without it. Equally helpful are my sunglasses, which even sit on top of my hat in wintertime, and my antibacterial wipes, eye drops, and plasters are a godsend. Lastly, my handbag wouldn’t be complete without a big planner and a blue, red and green pen in case I hear or see new ideas, phrases or words I might later write about.
I’m sure Mrs. Christie would agree.
Other small items that might come in handy in your handbag: