I’M DIFFERENT…AND THAT’S OKAY

 

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We need talk.

Don’t worry, I’m not pregnant. At least, I’m still getting my man period anyway.

But there is something we need to discuss. If you’re going to be my friend, colleague, co-worker, lover, reader, caddy etc. etc.  you need to hear this:

I have Multiple Sclerosis.

I don’t have AIDS, Syphilis, or Scurvy.

I’m not contagious.

I’m not one of Jerry’s kids. No, I don’t know Montel Williams personally. No, I don’t have the same thing that Stephen Hawking does.

I have MS.

It’s not going away.  In fact, statistics show it’s only going to get worse, but I’m not going to let it. It’s a PROGRESSIVE CHRONIC illness.

It’s not terminal.

No, I can’t get you Lance Armstrong’s autograph.

Our ribbons are orange.  Our month is March.

Our club has a lot of celebrities – Montel, Clay Walker, Teri Garr, Richard Pryor, Michelle Obama’s dad, Lena Horne, the lead singer of the Divinyls (yup, that chick that sung ‘I Touch Myself’).  Fuck, even Neil Cavuto has MS.

Newt Gingrich left his first wife after he found out she had MS. Mitt Romney’s wife has MS, but he’s strongly apposed to more ‘alternative’ treatments for the disease.

I don’t like those two guys.

Nobody really knows what causes MS.  So far the best guesses include, genetics, lack of sunlight, diet, unhealthy lifestyles, and exposure to certain toxins.  Medical experts think that MS is an auto-immune disease in which your own body attacks the lining of the nerve cells in your Central Nervous System. In English, that means it makes your body really damn ‘interesting’.

People with MS are pretty awesome.  We’re not crazy, lazy, or stupid.  We have good days. We have bad days. We have really fucking interesting days.  Sometimes we need accessibility aids to get around.  Sometimes it takes us a little longer to figure things out.  Sometimes we need to pee through a tube.  We’re not freaks.  We’re strong. If we need your help, we’ll ask for it. Whatever you think, do not assume that we are not sick if we don’t look sick!

We don’t like it when you say that.

Personally, all the people I’ve met with MS are far more awesome than any of the ‘normal’ people out there.

I have MS.

And, if you’re going to be a part of my life, you need to know this.  It’s a part of me. I can’t change that.  That doesn’t mean that I’m going to let this disease define me, but I’m not going to deny it either.  I have to embrace it in order to live a full life.  I need to come to grips with it on my own terms.

I am a writer, thinker, artist, son, lover, co-worker, kind of step-father-type-thingie that just happens to have MS.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not using this disease to get attention.  Yes, somebody recently accused me of doing such a terrible thing.

Honestly, I would love nothing more than to wake up tomorrow and be rid of this autoimmune curse.  But that’s not going to happen.  I will not be silent about my MS. I will not just ‘suck it up’ and try to be ‘normal’.

I’m not normal.  I’m okay with that.

If you’re not okay with it-if you don’t like my comments about MS, or my facebook updates about it-if you don’t like my attempts to educate others about it-then maybe you shouldn’t be a part of my life.

MS is growing in numbers. It IS an epidemic.  We might not have a cure, but we have education.

And that’s what I intend to do-educate.

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