[Back on November 8, before this blog went on a self-imposed hiatus, I mentioned the following concept, musing that I thought I’d written about it already. Chalk it up to my MS-addled brain creating false memories. I’ve searched and can find no evidence of such a post, so here goes (again?)…]
Based on personal experience, the way people have responded to the news that I have MS reveals a great deal about their personality and temperament. Here are a few examples:
I told a friend who is a financial executive. He went on and on about how I should protect my belongings, invest what I have, and sue my employer.
A young woman who happens to be one of the most positive people I know responded to the news of my RR-MS diagnosis, “At least it’s the best kind.” Reminds me of the old joke about the guy who fell off a 50-story building. As he flew by the 15th floor, he was heard calling out, “OK so far!”
One of the most pessimistic people I know immediately informed me of the person he knew who died of MS. Gee, thanks.
A very sensitive young male acquaintance of mine simply started to cry.
Many people say nothing at all, scared off by bad news they have no capacity or experience to process. In that sense, MS is a great filter. It siphons off fair-weather “friends” and hangers-on who can’t deal with reality. I’m probably better off without that kind of person in my life anyway. For example, there was a guy I used to work with who I often talked to at length about all manner of topics such as family, sports, vacations, and even, on occasion, work. From the moment I told him I had MS, he never spoke to me again. In fact, I’m not sure I ever saw him again.
A truly inexcusable reaction came from the manager I reported to who never had any idea what I was talking about. He had no clue what MS was and showed no inclination to find out. To this day, I really think he believed my limp and cane were for an ankle sprain. It’s not as if this guy had a hundred (or even a dozen) people reporting to him. I was one of about four people he managed. Yet he was too busy to concern himself with the details of one of his employees having a chronic illness, an illness that caused me to leave the workplace while I was on his team.
As we all know, the worst reaction is this one:
But you don’t look sick.
To which I now have a wonderful and apt response, courtesy of a comic a friend sent me recently:
And you don’t look stupid. Funny how looks can deceive, huh?
Let’s see what kind of reaction that gets.