One Man’s Playground is Another Man’s Horror

Jamie Hughes avatar

by Jamie Hughes |

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Multiple sclerosis has a way of messing with one’s head. Whether it’s emotional or psychiatric disorders, fatigue, brain fog, or physical problems, there’s a lot to wrestle with. And to effectively battle this disease requires you to be in a certain state of mind. Let me give you a visual example.

Last weekend, the kiddos and I were out running errands and drove past a local park called Abernathy Greenway. It’s a slim slip of land just off a main road, nestled up against a neighborhood. I figured it’d be a good way to let the littles run off some of their pent-up energy (and get mom, the MS patient, some much-needed sunshine). So, we pulled in and began our journey into hell.

At least that’s what I saw.

It all started innocently enough. Just look at that green space and flowers! Oh, and there’s a neat walking path made with paving stones. This is going to be lovely, I thought. Good on the city for creating such a great place for people to spend time outside with their kids.

And then we came to the swings or, as I call them, “The Vampiric Gateways of Dread.” Yes, there are chains and seats, the usual stuff of parks, but each of them is hanging from something that looks like it was ganked from Count Dracula’s Zen garden. According to the park’s creators, it is filled with “playable art” that “provides options … for active and passive recreation” and was designed by artists around the United States. But other than the swings, I didn’t see how anything else in the park resembled playground apparatuses.

The next stop on the trail of terror was a piece of equipment that is supposed to be a dragonfly. To me, however, it looked more like an Aztec temple, the kind where blood sacrifices took place. The handrails took a little menace off the thing, but that was about all it had going for it.

Next came the melting cages of doom, the only other item a kid could actually play on, but they were crooked as a politician and so hot it was hard to play on them for long.

Then we came to the one that undid me: the Ray Bradbury Rocks.

If you’ve never read “The Martian Chronicles,” I highly recommend it, especially the short story, “There Will Come Soft Rains.” This short piece chronicles the mechanical workings of an automated house, the last thing standing after a nuclear holocaust. Where are the people?

Bradbury tells us:

“The garden sprinklers whirled up in golden founts, filling the soft morning air with scatterings of brightness. The water pelted windowpanes, running down the charred west side where the house had been burned evenly free of its white paint. The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on wood in one titanic instant, a small boy, hands flung into the air; higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down.”

Just tell me the people-shaped holes don’t look like those silhouettes. Positively creepy.

And last but not least, there was the thing I dubbed Shelob: a gigantic spider made out of steel poles that were impossible to slide down safely. (Both kids bit it on the way down.)

Are those rocks sinister? Is that slide anything other than a slide (albeit a hideous one)? Is anything in that park evil or scary? No way. But the longer I looked, the more disturbing stuff seemed.

The same can happen with multiple sclerosis. Sometimes fear makes us think a random headache or blurry vision is an exacerbation, rather than the result of too many hours spent in front of a screen. This disease can also rob us of hope and joy…if we let it.

Friedrich Nietzche once said, “All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” So just because we feel like things are awful, doesn’t necessarily mean a situation is dire. That’s why it’s essential for MS patients to keep a clear head, to take things in stride, and to avoid making mountains out of molehills…or a little shop of horrors of playground equipment.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Judy Lynn avatar

Judy Lynn

Fun read...and point taken! (I agree with you about the rocks! And that slide...well!)

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Thanks, Judy! And the slide was scorching hot and hard to slide down to boot. Gotta love Georgia summers!


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