MS Poster Girl | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published April 2, 2008 at 3:23 p.m.

I got an unexpected phone call the other day — yet another one of myacquaintances was just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I wasdiagnosed with MS in 2002, and actually wrote a first-person story about it in 2005.

Since then, three local thirty- and forty-something women Iknow have contacted me to let me know that they, too, have beendiagnosed with MS. That seems like a lot to me, although I know we'rebasically the target MS demographic.

I bring this all up because I've been thinking about it the last fewdays — but also because I just read Sarah Tuff's story from this week'sSeven Days about Dr. Bernie Siegel.He's speaking on Friday at the Sheraton. His talk, "The Art ofHealing," is sponsored by the Vermont Cancer Center, but I found hisinterview relevant to my own experience as an MS patient. This, forexample:

Bernie Siegel: Thirty years ago, if I said, “A sense of humor will help you livelonger,” [the response would be], “Where’d you read that? Did you doany research?” Now, there have been studies . . . 

SD: Getting a procedure or treatment can be terrifying,isolating. How can someone find a sense of humor in situations likethat?
BS: Well, I call it being childlike. It’s not offensive humor. Awoman was in total panic over her operation, and I spent so much timetrying to calm her down, but nothing was working. So we wheeled herinto the operating room, and she said, “Thank God all these wonderfulpeople are going to take care of me.” I said, “I’ve worked with thesepeople for years; they’re not wonderful.” She then busted out laughingand we became family.

When you laugh, you can’t be afraid. It just changes your chemistry.

I'vedefinitely found that to be true. My partner, Ann-Elise, and I havelots of little jokes that make us laugh when I have to inject my MSmedication (Rebif) three nights a week. We keep the shots in thefridge, and we often joke that we're like the kids in the old Sunny Delight commercials. "OJ, purple stuff... Hey, Rebif! All right!"

It's really funny to us, but maybe you have to be there.

Incidentally, at the end of that interview, Bernie Siegel says his wife has MS.