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Martin and family in Paris

MS at 60

Martin Baum

It was my 60th at the turn of the year. As this was a landmark birthday my wife, son and his partner decided to surprise me with a weekend in Paris.

MS has dictated over the years that travel and I aren’t necessarily compatible companions. But as this was a special gift I couldn’t refuse.

Exploring Paris and pacing myself

The weekend went by in a tiring but enjoyable blur. We looked down from the Eiffel Tower, watched artists at work in Montmartre, and marvelled at the beauty of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum.

It was a struggle, but I paced myself. Or rather, as is the thoughtfulness of my family, they paced themselves to accommodate me.

Everything we did in Paris only conspired to make the weekend the most memorable time of my life. After all, it was my 60th birthday so what could possibly have gone wrong?

The incident at the airport

But soon after we arrived at baggage check-in at Charles de Gaulle airport for the return journey, something happened. And it was in what I can only describe as the most spectacular of all MS circumstances.

Nobody likes waiting in line at the best of times and especially if that line is in a windowless building. In hindsight, perhaps, I should’ve sat down to make it easier on myself, but chose not to. Although my legs were a little unsteady, I had my stick. But as more passengers entered an already crammed room I didn’t want to be separated from my family by sitting on a chair elsewhere.

Then unexpectedly my knees buckled. It was a result, I’m sure, of not drinking enough water and standing for too long in a crowded and airless room. Thankfully my son was quick on his feet to break my fall. This, inadvertently, was the catalyst for immediate action from the check-in staff and medial team.

Thanks to his linguistic abilities to speak adequate French my son was able to explain I had MS and the circumstances for my fall.  Once they were convinced and I had signed a waiver freeing BA of any responsibility, they fast-tracked us straight into the departure lounge and then onto the aircraft.

My changing relationship with MS

This new twist in my relationship with MS has given me pause for thought. While not being able to support myself at the knees is not a new symptom, collapsing so meekly in such a public place is.  

But becoming the centre of attention did have its positive sides. Not only did I momentarily subdue a maddening and impatient crowd of passengers who weren’t going anywhere, we were also one of the first on the plane home.  

Flippancy aside, it’s reassuring knowing that one of the most significant MS episodes of my life was counteracted by cool heads in a foreign land. For anyone old enough to remember a British Airways slogan from the 1970s, they really did take good care of me.

Martin is an MS blogger and influencer. You can read more of his blogs at

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