Newspaper crosswords

Self-isolation? Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt

For some of us in the MS community, self-isolation is old news.  We’ve lived it before.  Or is it only me?  

Social distancing in 1989

To be clear, nobody forced me to quarantine myself but because of circumstances it just kind of happened.

It was 1989. I had been in hospital for a few weeks. I had various MS-related issues including the temporary loss of sight in one of my eyes which made life pretty miserable for me.  

At the time I was living on my own in a flat and, unsurprisingly, I wasn’t coping. I had also compounded the problem by ‘social distancing’ myself from my parents and the rest of my immediate family. Perhaps not the smartest move but three decades ago, that was how it was.

Crosswords and Roland Rat

The current COVID-19 outbreak is making social distancing and self-isolation a way of life. And it has given me cause to remember and realise that, in so far as it goes, life could be a whole lot worse.

Sure, back then I might have been wallowing in my own self-pity - which I was - but life wasn’t made any easier for what passed as home entertainment.

A book of crosswords by the side of the bed and Roland Rat on the telly was what passed for rest, relaxation and ‘fun’. A pushbutton phone was not a video window to the outside world. A television was not an arcade of Netflix boxsets and smart technology.

In comparison, isolation in 2020 has never felt so inclusive.

Levelling the playing field

Without question, coronavirus has levelled the playing field between us and them: MSers and non MSers. All of us now have equality in restricted movement and social contact which gives us a head start. Because of MS, some of us are stronger for having been in an isolated situation longer. It gives us the edge as they struggle to adapt to our world.

Life has slowed down time and movement for everyone but, and this is the important bit, now we are on a par with their newly discovered limitations.  Mobility is an issue as is lack of face to face communication, which just might give non MSers pause for thought.

An opportunity for MSers

Personally, even if they’ve never tried to before, I think self-isolation is a wonderful opportunity for MSers to blog about who we are to an equally captive outside world. This is a new experience for the many who might, at last, have a greater understanding of what our lives are like.   

Coronavirus is an opportunity for MSers to write and remind non MSers how to survive self-isolation, and why not? After all, some of us have been doing it a lot longer than they could possibly imagine. And this just might afford us a little more thought than we have been used to.

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

Share your story

Do you have a story to tell about life with MS? We'd love to hear from you.

Share your MS story

Make a donation

Help us be there for everyone with MS

  • Please enter an amount

    Our minimum donation is £2, please enter a different amount.

£10could help us support someone calling our MS Helpline

£20could pay for one hour of research to help us understand and manage MS fatigue

£30could help run the MS Forum, giving over 27,000 people a place to come together as a community

Every penny you give us really does help us stop MS.

  • Please enter an amount

    Our minimum donation is £2, please enter a different amount.

£10a month could help stock our research labs with essential supplies

£20a month for a year could help fund a short break for someone with MS

£30a month could help train an MS Helpline volunteer to support hundreds of people with MS

Your regular donation means we can keep funding world class MS research with confidence. Together we will stop MS.

Photo of smiling lady on the phone