April 2018

Monday, June 14, 2010

NL #40: Like Fingernails

NL #40: I've noticed that, when we see one another, those of us with serious illness are somewhat like dogs meeting one another in a park. No, I don't mean we sniff one another's butts, but we are cheerfully curious about one another and want to know the other's story. It's like a club with a rough initiation.

Friday, while I awaiting my massage, another woman--apparently healthy--said to me, "Excuse me, this is a personal question. Do you have MS?" I explained that no, I have had brain tumors. "Oh," said Danielle, "I've just been diagnosed with MS." She smiled. It's a kind of introduction.

We shared stories about how our illnesses were discovered. Danielle was in a chronic pain study at the University of Washington, and when they did an MRI they found the MS. We also shared stories about early symptoms: apparently many MS symptoms are much like brain tumor symptoms. We also talked about how people react to us. Danielle said that yesterday someone told her she had made a contract with God before she was born to experience this illness in this life. Another person told her that she must have "something in her" that fostered the disease. A couple of her closest friends, she said, avoid her as if her MS is contagious.

I've heard enough similar stories from others with life-changing illness that I suspect I am the exception rather than the rule: no one has suggested that God or I plannned this illness or that I deserve it. My friends and family have gathered around me and Ann in a web of support.

I think of my tumors more like fingernails than as some deserved blight. I got fingernails. They came with me when I was born. I really don't know why. I also got tumors, one of which was born with me. I don't know why.

Thanks for being the friends you are. If you believe such nonsense as Danielle has encountered, at least you're keeping it to yourself. You're the best. Mary

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