I have a very bad habit. (In truth, I have an extensive collection of bad habits, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.) I read comments people write in response to stories on the internet. This is the worst possible practice for anyone who wants to maintain even a modicum of hope and respect for the human race. Six years ago, I bemoaned the whole plight in this post. Things have not improved since.
For obvious reasons, among the internet articles I am particularly attuned to are those regarding the latest findings on Multiple Sclerosis. I have a friend who constantly scours cyberspace in search of just such material. He keeps me and my other neurologically challenged friends abreast of all the current research. This disease is such a mystery, there is no shortage of research being done on the subject. An individual person (especially one with a disability) would be hard-pressed to even scratch the surface of the topic. His is an invaluable service to our little corner of the greater MS community.
Because virtually nothing is known for certain about MS, there is virtually everything to learn. As a result, many of the studies are far removed from the core biology of the condition, to the point of appearing preposterous. Thus, we see inquiries into how MS is affected by, among many other factors, exercise, diet, weather, socialization, salt, sleep, stress, and every combination thereof.
Recently, my de facto Minister of MS Information sent me a link to a story about a study in which mice with an MS-like condition improved as a result of exercise. If you’ve read many of my scribblings, you’ll quickly come to the correct conclusion that I’m a big promoter of exercise for people with MS. I thought this article was fascinating and would get people excited about the prospects of fighting the disease. Then I read the comments.
There weren’t many comments on this article, but half of them were disturbing. They said, in essence:
Who funds this useless research? Stop wasting money on pointless research and find a cure!
This demand is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. First, if and when a cure is found (and given Wall Street’s profit pressures on pharmaceutical companies, there is no motive to deliver one at all) it could be a long way off. Second, as a wise friend of mine often tells me, a cure is only half the battle, not even half for those whose MS has progressed to a debilitating state. (I suspect the author of one of the aforementioned comments was among that number because he said he couldn’t exercise. Hmmm.) Repairing neurological damage is the most crucial advance for those people. For them, a cure is no help; the disease has already done its damage. Myelin repair is where their hope lies. Progress there has been slow as well.
The real problem with the comment is the underlying attitude it betrays. The article described how people with MS can potentially improve their lot through exercise. These people didn’t want to do anything. They wanted someone to hand them a ready-made fix for their problem.
I get it cuz I have it. No one asks for this disease. It lays all sorts of often unreasonable and sometimes unbearable burdens on those who live with it. Asking them to jump through hoops to fight it isn’t fair.
Did some folks not get the memo?
I’m not fair. Sorry.
That sounds cold. The truth often is. We play the hand we’re dealt. To expect every problem we have to be fixed by someone else with a magic pill is unrealistic and counterproductive. Especially if there are steps we can take to improve matters. For me it’s exercise and lots of it. Others have had success with diet. Having a strong support system has also proven beneficial. If someone isn’t even trying those, he simply isn’t trying.
I ardently hope a cure and a treatment to restore lost function are found soon. Meanwhile, sitting on my butt and complaining, waiting for a magic pill while MS ravages my body is not an option.