Yesterday I watched “MS & Me” on Al Jazeera America. As I have grown to respect their fair and more inclusive reporting, I was excited to have them give me the current update on all things MS. The hour long event followed an Al Jazeera correspondent as she traveled to England, where the cutting edge of research promised to be.
One hour and we visited young people who detailed their symptoms, a man in a wheelchair as we were told that one in four MS sufferers would end up in one, and one woman who said that the side effects of MS medication were worth the risk for the benefits she felt. A visit to a researcher who made it seem as if the Vitamin D connection was the biggest link up to date, a DNA specialist who confirmed she did not carry the gene that they think may predispose an individual to MS (but that did not mean that those with MS would necessarily have this gene…) and to her doctor to determine that her MS had not developed into secondary progressive, and the special closed with her decision to begin taking a daily pill that they did not disclose the name of.
Is this what MS is in the public eye? Do the media only want to report on the sensational? Wheelchair statistics and ten minutes of waiting to see if she will have heart failure upon taking her first pill, but no talk of the stress connection, nutrition, any amount of control we might have as those with MS? I was torn between compassion for this woman and wanting to shake her, “You are not a prisoner to your diagnosis!”
How many of us feel this way? That our lives are hurtling out of control? That each year brings the possibility of a new relapse, new symptoms, and the possible transition into progressive MS? And is the media, our doctors, our families, ANYONE telling us differently?
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