The phone rings and a startled young woman reaches for it. Nobody there. The curtains blow with the incoming wind and rain. Eyes wide, she lights a candle and heads toward the basement door to investigate. Slowly she inches forward, beads of perspiration at her brow.
The music forewarns you that something bad is about to happen. Your heart pounds and you lean forward. “Don't open that door!” You don't yet know what is in the basement, but you know it is not good. Once her hand turns that doorknob, nothing will ever be the same...
Munching popcorn, we've all watched countless renditions of that scene in the movies. We enjoy it because it is fiction.
For some of us, multiple sclerosis is our very real monster on the other side of the door. We know about his penchant for surprise. We are familiar with his habits, but he still manages to shock. Sometimes his presence looms large, and other times he lurks in the shadows, allowing anticipation to build. Sometimes he is visible only to ourselves. Always, he is there.
The difference between the movie monster and the MS monster is in who chooses to reach for that door handle. Living with MS, we have some weapons at our disposal to keep the monster as weak as possible, but we do not yet have a weapon to destroy him. He always comes back for more. He controls the door.
During Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, it seems like a good time to use a little drama to illustrate a point.
Aside from celebrities who appear to be the picture of health, the general public has few points of reference for MS. Public figures have a tendency to stay out of the mainstream when not at their best.
If I didn't live with MS myself, I might be inclined to believe that it is a minor inconvenience. Indeed it is for some people. But many more do battle with the monster on a daily basis. Relapsing/remitting or progressive MS, the monster is in it for the long haul.
Meanwhile, in another part of town, a woman quietly goes about the business of living. She's met the monster, too, and she knows he'll return. So she dreams big dreams and acts upon them. She won't hide. She won't hold up the white flag. She won't let the monster get more than he can steal.
As the monster hides in the darkness, our movie heroine steps out into the sunshine, and the music swells.