I attended another complimentary dinner provided by Teva Neuroscience. This one was at the beautiful Hilton Garden Inn in Freeport, ME.
There were two guest speakers at this one. A neurologist from Southern Maine Medical Center who was really informative and a personal trainer/motivational speaker from Florida who was also quite informative and a lot of fun to listen to.
The neurologist - whose name I can't remember - spoke about MRIs and how they're used as tools in aiding, fighting, and tracking MS progression. He educated us on the importance of Contrast MRIs using Gatalidium to show active lesions and breakdown in the blood/brain barrier. Essentially, it works like this -
Gatalidium is injected in to your blood.
The MRI then tracks to see if the compound is breaking out of your blood-stream and entering your nervous system.
On an 'normal' person without MS, the Gatalidium shouldn't be visible at all in the brain. When it is, a doctor can easily see where the MS is 'flaring up'.
Also, since the program was presented by the company which manufactures and distributes Copaxone, there was also information showing how Copaxone helps treat people living with Relapsing/Remitting MS.
Jeff, the Personal Trainer/Motivational Speaker has been living with MS for quite some time. He's been on Copaxone since 2000 and is in great physical and mental shape. He, like me, jokes about how the disease affects him and makes light of his diagnosis. Some people don't react well to this.
I noticed a number of people in the audience who took every chance they could to "play the victim." When Jeff brought up the topic of Support and the tendency to push away help from friends and family who want to help, one woman interrupted to say that, after her diagnosis, no one wanted to talk to her at all.
Now, this may have been true. I don't know. But it really seems impossible that someones friends and family would, in a time of fear and need, turn their backs on someone they care about. Jeff made a point to say that it can seem that way because we simply are too proud to accept help from people and chose to ignore it in many cases. She was quick to correct him.
Again, I had the feeling of "I'm not these people". Cassy and I were the youngest ones in the room. I was surrounded by people who had been diagnosed 10+ years ago and who were already well in to their 30s, 40's and 50's by the time they caught the disease. They mentioned how they can't move around; how their fatigue is so bad that they can't walk up the stairs; how their lives suck and there's no hope for them.
Fuck that attitude.
I feel bad for these people, I really do. I don't, however, support negativity. Your life is what you make of it. Your limits are only defined by your effort to overcome them. Not everyone can run a 5k, I understand that. But if you can walk, you can try.
Jeff made a point last night. He asked an elderly woman how far she thought she could walk. Her response was "to my walker."
He said "If you can walk to your walker, you can walk anywhere." So he made up a game and tricked her in to walking around the block.
I don't know how much truth there is to this story, but the message is clear. Stop telling yourself that you can't do something and just try to do it. Even if you were right. Even if you can't do it. You tried and you did a hell of a lot better than you would have if you just sat there and did nothing.
Set a goal and achieve it. You don't have to achieve it right away, just try your best and don't quit until you're satisfied with the results.
I'm going to run a 5k on September 1st and everyone knows about it. It isn't a goal for me, it's a reality.
I'm not these people and I hope never to be. MS is a disease of the brain. The best way to fight it is to tell your brain that you can.