MS stinks. We can all agree on that. It’s disabling, incurable, and only marginally treatable. It doesn’t get much worse than that. But…
Let’s show some love for the doctors trying to treat it. Can you imagine a more difficult job than being a neurologist treating patients with MS? There’s very little these folks can do. (They do it anyway, which is good fodder for another post.) They don’t know where the problem came from or where it’s going or how long it’s gonna take to get there. Kind of like working on the SETI project with less chance someone will want to make a movie about you.
The reason this topic has been on my mind is because I’ve been spending a lot of time with babies lately. Don’t get me wrong. I adore babies. I love everything about them, including observing them, playing with them, holding them, and even changing their poopy diapers. (And, yes, you do have to use the word “poopy”.) Babies make me laugh hysterically, experience profound joy and love, and break my heart all at the same time.
But I would not want to be a pediatrician.
Imagine trying to treat a baby. It would always go something like this:
Doctor: What seems to be the problem?
Doctor: I see. And how long have you felt this way?
Doctor: Can you elaborate on that?
Doctor: Where do you feel this, uh, pain or itch or, um, thing?
Doctor: Do you have insurance?
Barely distinguishable from a conversation I had with a neurologist once.
The problem I have is exactly the same one the infant has. I lack the vocabulary to accurately convey my symptoms. (I also drool a lot, which makes the similarities downright scary.) Part of it is that MS has the most elusive and varied symptoms of any illness I can imagine. They’re weird and capricious and frightening. I wrote a post about this topic a few years ago, but it’s no less relevant now and it will continue to be so until someone puts a stake through the heart of this beast once and for all. For all our sakes, I pray it happens sooner than later.
Trying to identify and treat MS symptoms is like nailing jello to the wall. Next time I’m feeling sorry for myself, I’m going to pause and think about what those doctors are going through.
Then I’m going back to feeling sorry for myself.
Better yet, I’ll hug a baby.
For the record, the baby in these pictures has a happy to sad ratio that is the inverse of the ratio shown in these pictures, i.e. he is almost always happy. But he is a baby.