I stood at the front door of my house and could only shake my head as I watched the backhoe digging a deep trench in my yard. A sewer line malfunction created a mess in my basement and it turned out to be a broken clay pipe in my main line. The bill will be outrageous, but what was I to do except sign the contract and give my blessing to dig away?
When the digging stopped, I thought: Alright, we’ve found the problem and it can be fixed and life can go on for my household. But it wasn’t that simple. It turned out they had misjudged the location of the pipe and had to start digging in a different spot. “Oh, my!” was not my reaction; the words were much harsher as I watched them reposition the backhoe and begin their quest again.
When they finally found the pipe in the second hole, it presented its own surprise. Instead of being a straight line out to the main sewer line, the pipe took an unexpected turn to the left. But that wasn’t all. Shortly after this discovery, they found the pipe took another turn and shifted to the right again. There are no obstacles in the yard, and why the sewer line — constructed with the house in 1974 — was built with these twists, most likely will never be known.
After much time and expense, the workers tell me the problem is fixed, and once the city inspector gives his approval to their work, they will refill the two deep holes in my yard. As disappointed and angry as I was over the first hole, I had the opposite feeling about the second one – success quickly heals the wounds of disappointment. I had invested good money to solve my problem and they had achieved that goal.
As I watched the crew members pack up their equipment, it occurred to me this was not that different from drug exploration. Medical scientists often dig themselves into the wrong hole with the conviction that they are heading in the right direction with their research. Sometimes the error of their ways is obvious almost immediately and they can stop exploring and move on.
But other times they continue their pursuit down the wrong path because all the right signs point that way. They must encounter those unexpected twists and turns in their work, too. The first hole in my yard aligned perfectly with my house, the city sewer system, the vent stack on our roof, and more evidence. I can only imagine this type of going down the wrong hole happens often in the development of drugs.
We all get frustrated with the slow progress being made in multiple sclerosis research and the lack of a cure. I often hear complaints that the pharmaceutical companies could be doing more. We probably will never know what research holes they have dug in search of our cure because they rarely engage in conversation about their failures. Unlike the massive trenches in my yard, they can easily cover their missteps.
I know the pharmaceutical companies will keep digging until they find our cure, but for today I am content and satisfied that my sewer line is fixed.
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.
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