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But what if it wasn’t MS?


“I think I know what’s the matter with you.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I worked it out. Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I’m just wondering how you could have worked it out when three different GPs have spent a year and a half doing millions of blood tests and don’t know what’s the matter, and you didn’t even get your Science GCSE.”

“You might be the clever sister, but I did get my GCSE, actually. A D is a pass. And anyway, a D from 2009 would be at least a B now.”

“Go on, then, Doctor Hilary. What’s the diagnosis?”

“Well, do you remember a couple of years ago when you said we should go on a barge holiday around the UK, and I said that sounded awful, and then you said it was much better for the environment than flying somewhere and that if we were going abroad we should go by train, and I said that that would be pointless because by the time we got anywhere good by train, we would need to be setting off to come back?”

“Yes, I remember. But I don’t see what that’s got to do with anything.”

“If you stopped interrupting me, you’d find out. So you wouldn’t let us go on a proper holiday, and the only way I could get out of going on a barge was by agreeing to the coach holiday to that hotel in the middle of nowhere and everyone else was an OAP.”

“It wasn’t the middle of nowhere, and it was a very nice hotel I thought.”

“Nice, yes. But old.”

“So?”

“Well don’t you remember that you were complaining of feeling like you had spiders crawling on your face?”

“Yes. Probably because you were going on about spiders dropping down from the beams and crawling on us in our sleep. It’s like when someone mentions head lice and your scalp starts itching.”

“It wasn’t just that, though, was it? When we first got there and we were having dinner in the restaurant, you started feeling really dizzy and had to go up to the room to lie down, and we missed dessert, and I was going to have the chocolate chip cheesecake, and then they didn’t have it the next night.”

“I mean, you could have stayed and had dessert on your own. But I don’t know why you’re bringing this up and trying to blame me for you missing out on a cheesecake months ago. I’ll buy you a cheesecake if you want a cheesecake.”

“Well that would be nice, actually. But the cheesecake isn’t really the point, because it was on the same holiday that you started getting the aches in your knees and your hips. And you thought I pulled your hair when I was nowhere near you. And then remember when we were leaving and you passed the driver your suitcase, and then you just toppled over backwards onto the floor?”

“I thought we were going to forget that happened.”

“It’s not like anyone can hear us. What I’m saying is that it seemed almost like someone had pushed you over.”

“Except that nobody had because there was nobody there.”

“That’s what I’m trying to say.”

“What is? You’re not making any sense.”

“That I think you picked something up at that hotel.”

“What? Like a virus?”

“No. Like a ghost.”

“Right, OK. For a minute I thought you actually had a serious suggestion about what’s going on with my health.”

“This is serious. I’ve been doing research.”

“If you’ve been watching Paranormal Investigators again, that isn’t research. Anyway, we didn’t see any ghosts, we didn’t hear any ghosts, there was no banging on the walls or things flying round the room.”

“Maybe ghosts just aren’t that obvious in real life.”

“Don’t forget they don’t even exist in real life.”

“Well you can’t know that for sure. And if you think about it, it would explain a lot. It’s obvious that there was a spirit in that hotel, and it’s attached itself to you. I can prove it. How old are you?”

“You don’t need to keep going on about my age. Thirty isn’t even old. And it’s not as though you’re far behind me.”

“I didn’t mean it like that. But when I googled that old hotel, the history of it, I found out that it used to be a house and it belonged to a wealthy family. In the 1800s, or whenever, one of the daughters who lived there, called Anne, wasn’t married at twenty-nine, but she was in love with a man who lived on another estate, whose wife had died. So I guess she’d been reading Jane Austen, because she went walking in the rain so that she could get a cold and would have to recuperate at his house, and then he would fall in love with her. But instead, she got attacked by muggers, or highwaymen, or whatever you called them then, and she was too badly injured to get help, and dog walkers found her body the next day.”

“Dog walkers?”

“Fine, not dog walkers. A search party. They still had dogs. But the point is that she never made it to thirty, and now she’s a ghost trapped in that hotel seeing people living life when she never got the chance to. And to be fair, you can see why that might be a bit aggravating for her.”

“So you’re saying she doesn’t like people living longer than her? If that was true, why would she leave all the OAPs alone?”

“You don’t know that she does. Do you think anyone’s going to be interested in a seventy-year-old complaining of aches and pains or not being able to balance? They’d just say it was normal for their age. And if they said anything about crawling spiders or imaginary hair-pullers, they’d think they were losing it.”

“Right. So you think she’s haunting everyone but I’m the only one who’s noticed?”

“Well, maybe. You’ve got to admit it would explain a lot.”

“I suppose you’re right. But I don’t even believe in ghosts.”

“I doubt Anne cares whether you believe in her or not.”

“And I suppose you think that when I’m getting pins and needles and losing feeling in my hand, it’s because my soul is disappearing and being taken over by the ghost, and eventually I’ll be possessed, or repossessed.”

“I actually hadn’t thought about that, but yes, now that you mention it, that probably is what’s happening.”

“Right. So if that’s what’s going on, what do you suggest as a solution? Go back to the hotel and do an exorcism? Or just leave them a bad review on TripAdvisor?”

“I researched that too, actually. And I got you this.”

“Thanks… A candle?”

“Rosemary and sea salt. Rosemary to ward off evil spirits and cleanse the air, and salt because it has a crystalline structure that refracts electromagnetic energy, i.e. ghosts.”

“A crystalline structure that refracts electromagnetic energy?”

“I told you I was good at science.”

“OK then. I’ll try it.”

“You’d better, because it was expensive. We might have to call it your Christmas present.”


Reader, it wasn’t a ghost. I was eventually referred for an MRI scan of my brain, which showed no evidence of haunting, but plenty of evidence of relapsing remitting MS. The candle smelt lovely though.




Emma Warhurst

Relapsing Remitting MS

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