Over the past few months, I’ve had a few things to say about actress Selma Blair and the very public way in which she’s been handling her MS diagnosis.
When Blair went public with her MS last October, she did it on Instagram, writing, “I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps. But we are doing it. And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best.” At the time, I wrote that I liked her brutal honesty and her “I have MS and I’m OK” attitude.
Since then, Blair has posted many more times on Instagram. Some of the posts have included pictures of her standing or walking with a cane. All of her Instagram posts have had a pretty good audience, with 20,000-40,000 “likes” for most of the cane shots and a little over 100,000 for her initial post about MS.
But last Sunday night was special. Selma Blair and her cane walked along the red carpet at the Oscars. It was a prime-time look at someone with MS, walking right into your living room.
As their cameras clicked, and the photographers lined up along the red carpet shouted, “Selma, look up top” and “Selma, look over the left shoulder,” it appeared as if Blair was a little worried about her balance. Posing for the paparazzi, once likely easy and second nature for her, seemed to have created a little concern. The photographers might not have seen that Blair seemed worried about her balance, but looking at the video, anyone with MS will.
After her initial disclosure in October, I wrote about Blair a second time. That time, however, she’d posted something on Instagram that was less positive than her initial post. “Going out, being sociable holds a heavy price. My brain is on fire. I am freezing. We feel alone with it. … I choke with the pain of what I have lost and what I dare hope for,” she wrote.
I was also less positive. I questioned whether we, who live with MS, want to publicly identify ourselves as “heartbroken, always struggling, and ‘choking’ over our loss?” I asked the people who read my columns what they thought. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that they supported Blair’s public honesty — whether it was positive or negative.
If a photo is worth a thousand words, then the video of Blair and her cane, as she slowly made her way along the red carpet at the Oscars, is worth a million. It shows pain and persistence. Caution and class. It shows what many of us have to handle each day. And Selma Blair showed an audience of millions how to do it. Bravo!
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