Friday, March 20, 2009

Sometimes The Truth Can Be So Refreshing

I am not an avid viewer of the Oprah Winfrey show. It's not because I don't like her, it's just that her show comes on right after The Hubs gets home from work and takes control of the remote, usually while grumbling something like "I'm not watching any of this woman shit". In other words, Oprah just has really bad timing for my house.
But my Mother-In-Law called me the other day and told me that Oprah had Montel Williams on her show last week to talk about his life with MS (I'm sure you all are surprised to hear that he actually had MS, right? Nobody's ever mentioned that to you before, right?).
Montel told the story of how he was diagnosed, how he took the news badly, how he deals with pain everyday (and to think that doctors will still tell us that our MS doesn't cause pain) and, of course, he was also on there plugging the new book he just wrote.
I haven't been able to find the video of the show online but from what I've read on Oprah's site and from the recap my Mother-In-Law gave me, Montel gave a very honest and open interview about his ride on the MS ride.
It turns out, that in the beginning, he didn't take it too well. You know, because the rest of us took it like someone just handed us a ticket to a place where unicorns run free and it rains gumdrops and the rivers are made of chocolate and all of the vegetation is made of candy.
No, wait, I'm thinking of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
According to Montel, he took the news so badly that he attempted suidcide by throwing himself in front of an oncoming taxi. The taxi driver stopped, just in the nick of time of course, and jumped out of his cab and started to apologize to Montel and saying things like "Your show has made such a difference in my life. The world is a better place with you in it" you know, yada yada yada.
Even though I'm not so sure that I believe his dramatic movie-esque suicide attempt, I will admit that I found it refreshing that he admitted that this horrible disease drove him to that point.
I'm not suggesting that we all start throwing ourselves in front of taxi's to find our "epiphany" because I'm pretty sure that, even though we're "blog world famous", I've never gotten a comment from a taxi driver telling me how I've changed the world with my ramblings and complaining. So, I'm pretty sure that my taxi driver would just mow me over and keep on going. I'd end up as just another notch on his "pedestrian speed bump" tally.
I will admit though, there have been times, especially in the beginning of my MS ride, that I thought "Something HAS to give because I can't go on like this much longer." The alternative almost seemed like a vacation compared to what I, and I'm sure most of you, have dealt with and still are dealing with.
I have always had severe pain, mainly stationed in my lower back, hips, and legs. I battle fatigue, migraines, loss of balance, foot drop, limbs deciding to take the day off without giving me any notice. And then there's the changes that have slowly started and gotten worse over time. I now have the attention span of a gnat. I once prided myself on being so well spoken and now I find myself searching for simple words while in conversation. I'm forgetful, and while it bothers me, it bothers those around me much more so. Especially my husband who goes to work everyday and doesn't always have the time to make phonecalls to schedule doctors appointments, vet appointments for the funny farm animals, and other things like that. So, he asks me to take care of these things. And I have the best of intentions when I tell him that I'll get them done.
And then I'm surprised and hurt when he gets angry at me the next day for not doing these things for him. And the next day, and the next day, and the next day.
I've had people give me their advice on how I should handle these things. I have daily planners in every room, multiple calendars, notebooks, "To do" lists. The Hubs even surprised me with a gift one day that was one of those personal recorders, you know, where you can leave yourself messages to remind yourself to do things. The only problem is, it doesn't remind you where you put it the last time you used it and it also doesn't remind you to listen to the messages you left yourself earlier. That can be problematic.
I have met a few people who have MS and they've been lucky to find the right therapy right away and haven't had a flare in ten years. I'm honestly happy for them but people need to know that it's not always like that. In fact, more than not, it's quite the opposite.
So, while I sometimes find it annoying that the first thing that people say when they hear that I have MS is to say either "Oh yeah, you know, Montel has that" or "Oh that's horrible! My great aunts nephew's sister has that and that poor thing is in a wheel chair and drools all over herself", I am greatful that Montel is out there, spreading the news that having MS sucks, even if he is plugging his book along with it.


Bald Ben said...


I feel need to comment since I gave the Oprah/Montel show a scathing review over at my blog. Allow me to qualify some of my thoughts.

It is true I really do not like Oprah. Perhaps it is a man thing I do not know, but she just rubs me the wrong way. This is not going to change. Although I suppose if she cures MS I’m gonna have to give her some sorta props….

Truth is I do actually think Montel is a pretty neat guy. I am glad that he is "On our Team" so to speak. Still there was something just very hollow about the show to me, something very disingenuous. I can't truly put my finger on it, but I am sure it has something to do with the fact that I guess I was hoping for some answers. I suppose I set myself up for a let down because we all know there are no answers.

Honestly though I had hoped I would have heard how he was able to keep the pace that he kept. His TV show, public appearances, being a celebrity, etc. has to be an exhausting pace to anyone and add MS it had to get exponentially harder. Further more watching him swallow 26 pills at one time was like adding insult to injury.
Apparently Montel does not suffer from dysphagia. Swallowing one small pill is a torture for me and has been for a very long time. To see Montel do it, and then not even mention that a very common problem for those of us with MS are swallowing disorders sorta hurt. It hurt more so because at another point in the show he spoke about never wanting to be the voice of MS, but is very proud that he is that now. He wasn’t representing me in this show, it felt as if he was only representing himself.

I'm ranting again. Sorry. I suppose what I am trying to say is that I like your blog. I hope my distaste for Oprah doesn’t change your opinion of the blither that I write at mine. Be well.

Anne said...

People do manage to say the stupidest things when you tell them you have MS.

I was given Montel's book shortly after my diagnosis.

I returned it.

Patrick @ Caregivingly Yours said...

In the two decades I have been a MS spouse caregiver I have watched several rise and fade as the "voice of MS", including, Annette Funicello, Richard Pryor, David Lander, Terri Garr, and Montel Williams. With progression of MS symptoms they fade from public view, whether by their own choice or others I do not know. Milder symptoms on the other hand make for a more TV ready visible 'voice'. It can be a contradiction to the daily challenges of living with MS.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

Skye said...

I'm not exactly fond of Oprah either, but I did watch this particular interview. I agree with both you and Ben on this actually. Montel did say how hard it was to live with MS, but he didn't do a very good job of representing just what that means and what it all entails.

The one thing I disagree with Ben on, is the "why" factor. Every time Montel tried to go into detail on anything, Oprah would cut him off and tout his book. If memory serves, I believe she even mentioned at one point that we won't go into that because it's all spelled out in your book.

Montel also mentioned that he had taken a holiday in the mountains somehwere, and that with the higher altitude, cleaner air, etc, he was incredibly surprised that his symptoms weren't anywhere near so bad as wehn he's at home. He wanted to talk more about that as well, but Doc. Oz and Oprah both cut him off. I have a feeling that neither of them really wanted Montel to say what was truly on his mind. I think they felt that Montel would scare people if he told the truth, and so they kept interupting whenever he went into any form of detail unless it was on a good point.

Sorry for rambling, I'm good at that, as you've already figured out!

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