Speak Up

Enjoy essays and poetry by people living with neurologic disorders and their caregivers. Readers can also find letters to the editor.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My View From Behind Two Canes: What Mister M. Sclerosis Has Allowed Me to See

By Beverly Kuzman


Some people have a good luck gene. They win raffles; when they select a day for a picnic, the sun shines. Unlike the pessimist who sees the glass as half-empty, their glass is always half-full. I am one of those people. In addition to winning an unusual number of raffles, I have multiple sclerosis (MS).

     Many people would not regard having a disease like MS as evidence of good luck. I assume most people who see me getting around with the assistance of two canes, or who watch me walk like a drunken sailor when I haven’t had a drop to drink, wouldn’t consider me a fortunate person. But luck is often a matter of perspective.

     Nearly 30 years ago, an unwelcome and persistent stranger entered my life. Mister M. Sclerosis was very subtle as he attempted to steal my mobility and independence. First, I began walking with a slight limp; next, I needed one care for stability. Now I walk slowly with two canes, but my unwelcome suitor also opened my eyes to the goodness of people.

     The newspapers may be filled with examples of man’s inhumanity to man, but my view from behind these two canes is quite different. From this point of view, provided courtesy of Mister M. Sclerosis, I see the best of humanity. People open up doors for me and wait while I totter through them. When I’ve been caught in the rain and unable to carry an umbrella, strangers have walked beside me holding an umbrella over me while they are exposed to the rain. One time a friend and I were walking on a busy city street when I tripped and fell flat. A man stopped his truck in the middle of the street, rushed out, picked me up, and then returned to his truck. The world is filled with amazing and considerate people, and I see the best of them.

     If I had the option of life without Mister M. Sclerosis, of course I would choose that. I’d prefer to be a helper, not a person needing help, but my 30-year involvement with this ever-present fellow has been filled with luck.