It is often said that real life mimics television, and one hit TV series certainly reflects the theme: “my life is my own, MS cannot have it.”
During the 1960s, 1967–68 to be exact, an iconic television show ran on Sunday nights called “The Prisoner.” It starred Patrick McGoohan as a British secret agent who, after resigning, was abducted and woke up in a mysterious place known only as The Village.
This series developed what might be described as a cult audience, and I, then a 15-year-old, was a happy member.
There is no need, here, to delve any further into the show’s content, but it seems to me that all of us with multiple sclerosis are living in our own version of The Village. We all awoke one day to the realization that all was not well. We consulted a doctor and, once diagnosed, we were each abducted by multiple sclerosis to become new residents of The Village.
Viewers of the television series never knew the name of McGoohan’s character — just his number. Everyone in The Village had a number — he was Number 6.
Not that he accepted that. “I am not a number. I am a person,” he yelled at one point, being in a constant rebellious mood and hell-bent on freedom. In the same episode, he said: “I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own.”
From the way “Number 6” refused to accept his confinement and was always looking for a way to escape, we could draw a parallel with our confinement by multiple sclerosis and our constant desire to be rid of this disease for good.
What’s more, just as McGoohan’s character reacted so violently against being categorized as a number, so too we don’t want to be defined by this disease. I refuse to be labeled as a disabled person because that is not me. Yes, I have MS and so I have a disability – but I am a person and my life is my own.
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