The More Things Change …

The More Things Change …

An awesome friend of mine at work who is learning to master Spanish as a second language has been using a podcast called “News in Slow Spanish” to increase fluency in conversation and learn cultural nuances. (And this isn’t the first amazing thing she’s done. Homegirl can run marathons and fly planes. She tutors kids and volunteers to pick up roadside litter in her spare time. Like I said — awesome.)

She started listening to news from 2013 and has now arrived in 2016. Why anyone would want to go back to that tumultuous year of election shenanigans and an excessive number of celebrity deaths is beyond me. (I still mourn Prince and David Bowie!) However, she said that it’s not only helped her with conversational Spanish but also with her perspective on 2019’s current events. Why? Many of the same things that were being discussed three years ago are back (or they never left). So, there’s nothing truly “new” in the news. We get so caught up in the current cycle that we just think there is. Like Peter Allen says, “Everything Old Is New Again,” and that likely will always be the case.

As I enter my 15th year of living with multiple sclerosis, I’m coming to find that what’s true of the news is also true of life with this disease. When I was first diagnosed — when MS was “breaking news” in a way — everything was dramatic. Every phone call, doctor’s visit, or article I read demanded a bright red flashing announcement like the ones you see on broadcasts. “Pay attention!” it screamed. “This is huge! It’s going to ruin everything!” And like Chicken Little, I cowered in my house, waiting for the sky to fall.

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However, over time, I came to see that announcements, changes in my condition, or revelations gleaned from an MRI weren’t worth working myself into a tizzy about. Living with MS, as one popular saying goes, isn’t a sprint so much as a marathon. This isn’t a condition that shows up and is cured with a few treatments. (Though, praise be to God, that could one day be the case.) No siree Bob. It packs heavy, sets up in the guest room, eats the good lunchmeat, and uses all the hot water.

My grandmother once told me about two friends who would travel from house to house, staying until their welcome was worn out, then moving on to the next couple on the list. She called my grandfather in a panic and told him, “They’re here. And they’ve pulled all the way to the fence.” That was her way of saying they had no plans of leaving anytime soon. That’s how I think of MS. It’s “pulled up to the fence,” so I might as well make the best of what’s going to be a long visit. That doesn’t mean I let MS rule my home, though. Like any good hostess, my largesse only extends so far. MS doesn’t tell me what I can or can’t do, where I can or can’t go. I refuse to let it take over any more of my life than it already has.

I’ve made peace with MS because, like the news, it’s nothing new to me. For 15 years, we’ve learned to deal with each other without all the Sturm und Drang and “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” Now we’re like two roommates who don’t really like each other but tolerate one another’s quirks because, well, it could be worse. And at least the rent is reasonable.


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.


  1. Erica says:

    Very healthy perspective. Thank you, Jamie. I think that it’s too easy to be overwhelmed by our daily reality of MS (yup, I woke up with it AGAIN this morning), but the mind is our body’s strongest organ even with the ongoing war on myelin sheaths. Let us not succumb to self-pity and melodrama, and never stop believing in ourselves, our plans, our capabilities, and our dreams. MS sucks but we don’t need to give it more power than it deserves. We don’t need to wallow in defeat. -Erica (10 years STRONG and DEFIANT)

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