Friday, June 25, 2010

On the Star Beacon editorial page yesterday, Tim Giago wrote of his wife's experience with MS and the relief she gets from Copaxone. Jackie Giago has been taking Copaxone for nearly eighteen years. "In some there is no improvement, and in others the effect is negative," Tim Giago wrote. "But with Jackie and many others, they are able to continue living an active life, work at full-time jobs and enjoy many of the activities they enjoyed prior to contracting the illness."

A couple years ago, Nancy and I volunteered to help with the MS Walk at Mentor High School. Nancy helped set up the cafeteria, and we folded T-shirts and then sat behind a table brimming with literature on MS. As we sat there - I was in my wheelchair - a number of women who appeared to be in their twenties or thirties, several with young children in tow, asked the date of my diagnosis. It turned out, all the women had been diagnosed long before I was. What a burden MS must be for a young mother of father. As I understand it, most woman who contract MS in early adulthood have the recurring-remitting form of the disease, and they don't experience symptoms all the time. Still, they must miss out on many of the joys of being a parent during the recurring phases. I guess if I had to have a date with MS, I'm glad it came after Russ and Beth were grown and on their way to responsible (I hope) adulthood.

On the other hand, a neurologist from ACMC talked about Copaxone and other promising drug therapies at a meeting of the MS Support Group at KSU-Ashtabula this spring. She went through a list of ten or so drugs and explained how they worked and what types of MS they seemed to help. When she finished, a man at our table whose wife is in a wheelchair asked, "You've talked about all these different types of MS, but I didn't hear anything about primary-progressive MS. Are there any drugs for that?" The doctor shook her head and said, "no."

Because my diagnosis is primary-progressive, the look on the doctor's face and her barely audible "no" have stayed with me. Being realistic can be a good thing, but too much realistic thinking can be a downer. As luck would have it, soon after yesterday's bout with realistic thinking I received a much needed kick in the butt. The kicker was Gene Collier, a sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Thursday he wrote about soccer and the TV coverage of the World Cup, finishing with Landon Donovon's answer to a question about the two US goals that were disallowed.

" 'We embody what Americans are all about,' Donovon said. 'We can moan about it, or we can get on with it.'

"So we get on with it, because the clock doesn't stop. Not really," Collier wrote.

With that in mind, perhaps I'll get on with it and spend more of my time at the computer writing and less time playing Free Cell. And I'm hopeful I'll have more success with this than I did with the other bit of wisdom I gleaned from Collier's columns. One day in the fall of 2003, much of the Star Beacon sports section was given over to the girls basketball preview, which contained twenty or so stories under my byline. That night, I got on the Post-Gazette web site and read Collier's column, which concerned the flack Lisa Guerrero was taking at the time as the sideline reporter for Monday Night Football. Given the sea of words I had contributed to that day's Star Beacon, a sentence from that column has haunted me ever since: "As Coach Cowher loves to say, 'there's a fine line in this business' between occasional insight and incessant vacuous yammering."

More than a few times, I fear, I've tripped over the fine line and fallen into the morass of incessant vacuous yammering. Like now, for instance.

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