MS Child’s Play

Multiple Sclerosis no concentration


I love games; always have and pretty sure I always will.  And no, I don’t mean people mind games, the stuff of drama and social network craziness.  I mean good old fashioned board games.

When I was 5 I was playing Candy Land with my grandmother.  Since she didn’t speak English I figured she would be clueless if I cheated.  Of course she would believe that when I picked a card with two blue squares it suddenly meant that you could jump six blue squares.  She caught me and I got a reprimand.  She spoiled me so it wasn’t too serious but I never cheated again and continued to play.

As an adult I bought my friend’s 9 year daughter the game, Barbie’s Dream Date. I would never buy a girl such a game now but I was poor and stupid then. Anyway, the idea behind the game was that Barbie had to get all these things before she could go to the prom- shoes, a dress, a limo, a date.  I was playing the game with the girl and her little brother and I was losing badly.  Halfway through the child shouted, “Yvonne, you still don’t have a boyfriend!!”

Potential boyfriend?
Potential boyfriend?

Story of my life kid, story of my life.

The point being, that I still think games are a fun way to spend some time.  But trust me; it doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 50; if you are playing with me I’m going all in.

Turns out I’m pretty competitive and whether I’m having a wine filled game night with my friends or I’ve got a vicious game of Chutes and Ladders going with my nephews, expect no mercy.  I don’t care how cute you are.

My game closet
My game closet

This weekend however, my competitive gaming fell to a new level of embarrassment when multiple sclerosis got involved.

My cousin Kelly and her three kids came to visit.  There was Ashley, a teenager, Noah 6 and Lucy, 7 and three quarters as she proudly told me.  When Lucy came to visit last summer she offered some great MS perspectives that I wrote about in the blog, Out of the Mouth of Lucy.

On this visit we spent the first part of day one at the bay beach and after showers and some iced tea I promised to play a game with them.  The choices were Go Fish and Memory which used to be called Concentration when I was a kid.

Why do the powers that be insist on monkeying with perfection?

My preference was Memory.  I could have played the adult/host card to get my way but neither game actually had that card.

So I played the MS card which yes, believe it or not, works with kids.  I told them that my doctor wanted me to play games to help improve my memory and that argument got me the game of my choice.  Not before Lucy had a ton of questions about my doctor, my medicine, my treatment and other things but still, Memory was on!ID-100297281

This is the game where cards are turned over and you have to turn them two at a time to try to make a match.  Noah and I tied for the win with 9 pairs each.  Lucy didn’t do too badly with 8 pairs of her own but I won!

Even if I had to share that win with the adorable Noah.

The first beach and the game must have taken away some of my brain skills as later we drove to an ocean beach where they were desperate to see seals and I was desperate to show them some.  Standing on the ocean bluff I saw a grouping of birds.

They asked if the birds were seals.

“No,” I told them, “those are birds.  I’m a Cape Cod girl and I see seals all the time so I would know.”

Since everyone around us was pointing and smiling at the group Kelly wasn’t so sure.  She took the kids down to the beach where they saw, and from my perch I finally recognized, what was actually a large pod of seals.

The dots are seals
The dots are seals

What was wrong with my brain??  How fried could it get from one day at the beach?  So fried that I can no longer tell the difference between birds and seals?

This was an incredibly embarrassing faux pas that I eagerly blamed on MS.

Day two of their visit involved walking, whale watching and visiting other family and not only was I wiped out, but my company was too.  Back at my house after the long day, I emerged from the bathroom after brushing my teeth to find everyone was fast asleep.  Even Ashley, the teenager who usually stayed up until all kinds of crazy hours was completely passed out on the sofa.


That means that either they were beyond spent or I take a really, really long time in the bathroom.

My cousins left the next morning but not before we had to play Memory one more time.  And that game was an epic fail.

I couldn’t remember where anything was at all, even the cards closest to me.


If that wasn’t bad enough, everything looked the same- the fox looked like the cat, the duck looked like the dog, the lion looked like the rhinoceros.

And it wasn’t just the animal pairs that were messing me up.  The apple looked like a heart and the kite looked like the leaf.

I couldn’t even remember the card that I kept accidentally turning over as it kept sticking to my knee.leafkite

I was such a sorry competitor that the kids felt bad for me.  They kept trying to give me their pairs but I refused!

I didn’t need their cute sympathy.  I was going to make a comeback.  MS or no MS my brain was going to pull through. I would rally and sweep this game!

In the end, Lucy won with Noah a close second.  I had one pair, coincidentally the birthday cake pair, a favorite of mine.

And I think I only had that as the kids might have purposely isolated them so I would turn them over.  Either because they felt bad about my pathetic showing or to see if I really would eat the birthday cake pair as I promised if it was one of the pairs I got.

(I did nibble on it to test its sweetness but I was too overwhelmed with shame to feel like I deserved a cake, even if it was just a cake on a card.)


The only thing that made me feel better was the fact that this too must be the fault of multiple sclerosis.  The more tired I got from a weekend of hanging out with awesome family and doing fun things, the more the cognitive parts of my brain were going to make me pay for it.

In my book, MS Madness!  A “Giggle More, Cry Less” Story of Multiple Sclerosis, I talk about how instead of the involved neuropsychological tests doctors make MS patients take to determine their cognitive abilities, they should just make patients play FreeCell instead.  I argue that would be an easier way to determine how a patient’s brain is doing.

I would like to amend that now.  Instead of FreeCell, the best way to see how a patient’s brain is doing is by getting them to play Memory with some kids.  Memory is definitely the way to go.

And while I’m furious that MS ruined my Memory playing skills that morning, it was still fun. It would have been more fun if I won but what can you do?

MS is no fun.

Losing at the Memory game is no fun.


Having a fun time with fun people is fun.

Just make sure you get lots of rest as soon as possible.

The next time Noah and Lucy come to visit I will be well rested and it will be Memory war.

And, unlike MS, I take no prisoners!!

My blogs are always tongue in cheek my friends and I had a blast with all four of my cousins.  I may not be able to always keep up with the energy of young Noah but I’m sure going to enjoy trying!



Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Image courtesy of Mister GC at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

2 Images courtesy of my cousin Kelly

The other images are courtesy of my game closet

6 thoughts on “MS Child’s Play

  1. I love it! Sorry & Yahtzee are my favs. My son loves Monopoly. I hate that game! I would rather have a total body wax than to play Monopoly. As far as memory…I am constantly calling our mailbox the post office! One time I was trying to tell Blake to scrape his plate remnants into the garbage disposal. I called out every small AND large appliance in the kitchen besides the disposal. That’s why we gotta giggle like your book says!

  2. This sounds like the cousins had a wonderful time with you…whether you were winning or they were. Nice family, Yvonne. All the best.

    • They really are a great group. I didn’t talk about the teen to much in the blog as she needed a short break from her younger siblings and didn’t play Memory with us but she is an awesome well rounded kid. Their visits always give me hope for the future! Hope you are surviving this heat my friend….

  3. See the busier you keep the brain (all day at the beach and playing the game and visiting people etc. the better it seems to function.) I know my cognitive skills have fallen way below their normal level and I only feel “normal” when I am talking my craft with someone or fixing a problem within my field (which these days is rarer and rarer.) Sitting around all day reading or just doing nothing (seems my chores are done by 11 AM) with nothing left for the rest of the day and where I live is not safe to walk around too much and driving here in my “foreign land” is a nightmare so I hear you about the memory game stuff.I was an avid board game player with my son when he was little but he had graduated to on line gaming and my husband has always hated board games and is quite content to watch the same damned TV show over and over again and THOSE I can remember entirely and am totally bored. What I had for dinner yesterday (no clue) but these TV shows – bored to tears as I can even remember what they will say next. You just have to love this disease and yes it is a blessing to have it to blame things on but truth be told I’d rather give it up and work hard at remembering if that was an option.
    You are so very lucky you have such a big warm family who actually love you and come to visit!

    • Thank you so much Judy and yes, I am very lucky. They are an awesome group and I love that there are kids these days who still appreciate the simplicity of something as simple as Go Fish. It’s weird how the brain works. I was an English major and love reading and writing, obviously, but am lousy at Wheel of Fortune. Yet I do pretty well at Jeopardy- go figure! I was dating a guy who never read and failed English classes in high school yet he was fabulous at Wheel of Fortune. I guess it is the puzzle aspect of the game. But yes, but the end of the weekend my brain was fried. Happy, but fried…

Leave a Comment