A Long Year Ends

This year has been tough for any American who cares to take stock of who and where we are. From Fallujah to Ferguson, we have seen death and defeat and in Syria, the unspeakable horror of human brutality. For all of us, healthy and sick, we cannot separate and stand apart from our world.
Yet many fight a war within, life and death battles waged within our bodies. We do battle with chronic illnesses, according to the CDC, “the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. ”These conditions, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes and obesity are among the most common health problems we face.
As of 2012, about half of all adults, 117 million of us, fight these chronic conditions that include MS. Everywhere we look, there is an enemy pointing a weapon at us, in the Middle East, Middle America and in our homes in the middle of the night, when disease so often strikes us down.
I, for one, cannot figure out where to direct my fears. We are Americans and a part of the world community. And we belong to the nation of the sick, a duel citizenship that confounds. I think we live with competing interests and priorities. I long have argued, in this space and elsewhere, to stop squandering resources on misguided missions far from home. Increase the NIH budget and invest in medical research. Shield us from the war that rages within.
At the same time, we cannot deny that enemies of America do threaten us here, with the specter of lone wolf operatives who can attack on our shores. I do believe we can cut unnecessary spending and protect ourselves on all fronts. The question of who will protect us from ourselves goes unanswered.
I do not mean to finish the year on a downer, though pretending that all is well does not seem smart. Maybe we should put the subject away for the holidays and give it a rest, knowing it will be patiently waiting for us in the new year. Happy holidays, everyone.

31 Responses to A Long Year Ends

  1. giantjim December 24, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    Happy holidays to you and your family !!!

    • Richard M. Cohen December 24, 2014 at 1:13 pm #



  2. Linda Lazarus December 24, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    Maybe clinging to the joy in life will prepare us to fight the other battles. Reminds us of what really is precious. So, in the spirit of saving the world…..go forth and enjoy the holidays.

    • Richard M. Cohen December 24, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

      Same to you.


    • Ann. Godin January 1, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

      Well said Linda

  3. Jeff December 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    Wishing all a happy holiday. I hope everyone finds some time to reflect on the good things in life – family, friends, safety – and is able to take an occasional break from the day to day struggles we all face.

  4. Nik December 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    I am not at all a religious person. this time of year I celebrate friends and family with fun traditions my child can hopefully remember long into his life. I’m grateful that at this moment I am able to give that to him. I am also grateful for you Richard and all of the posters here. Finding you all got me through my CIS and scariest time of my my life so far. With difficulties ahead, I know I can check back here every couple days and feel some comfort from you. My warmest wishes to you all and thanks for being here!

    • Richard M. Cohen December 25, 2014 at 6:05 am #

      My best to you.


  5. Yvonne December 26, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Happy Holidays to a resilient group! FDA approved a new drug,Lemtrada, for use so maybe for some of us, our New Year will be a little brighter 🙂

  6. Dale December 26, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Resilient group indeed. With our beloved fearless leader. Thanks Richard, here’s to a kick-ass 2015….

  7. Nancy Cincotta December 26, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    Happy Holidays to you and your family, with much love and respect for all you do, Nancy

  8. Doug December 26, 2014 at 11:49 pm #

    Yes, there are plenty of issues to ponder. I believe that we as a nation have always put our citizens & country last. So many with problems/health issues & no where to turn. 2011 was a diasterous yr., which 99% of people would think I was making it up as I went. This yr I took a big step in trying to moms life more liviable. While I struggle with my health (no diagnosis yet) I care for my mom 24/7, with her alzhiemers, parkinsons, etc. You learn to celebrate some of the smallest things, just to have that moment. We have a president for the mid/low class & the (R)’s & 1% er’s have kept him down. I hope the coming yr the (R)’s don’t start cutting sources/budgets on programs, etc we need.
    Enough said I want to wish y’all & everyone that visits your site the best they could possibly have in 2015. I’m praying that Mom’s story & issues get to the right person to be heard & her final yrs can be good ones. Lord knows she deserves it.

    • Richard December 27, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

      Happy New Year to you.


  9. C ri to h r December 27, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Each new year is a new chance to fall flat on your face a thousand times and learn to gracefully get up, smile and say, “ta da.” Without counting, of course.

    Happy New Year

  10. Elizabeth December 28, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    A friend just posted on facebook a quote by Jim Rohn, “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” This was shared from someone else and posted by a friend. It came with an exclamation from this person I don’t know, “no more excuses.” And an everyone has a sad story or challenges to overcome but it’s what you do with it that defines you bit of what I assume was an attempt to inspire people to forge ahead no matter what. I find this insulting. We don’t all live in this world exclusively. We have boundaries, obligations, and obstacles. I can’t just ride off into the sunset because I want to. I’m not making excuses. I don’t pretend that my obstacles are any more than any one elses, but right now I am physically and emotionally drained. I don’t know how long it will last but I am wiped the hell out. I think that shit like this makes people who are going through really profound issues and don’t have a big smile on their face and a “get out of my way here I come” t shirt on are wimps. I am not a wimp, but I hurt. My psychologist said the measure he often uses to assess a client’s struggles is the state of their 1. health 2. relationship 3. career. All of which are unstable or non-existent for me right now. As several years go by that I say, ok this is the year that I can affect change in my life and gain control, each time I have had a significant life event or loss that has left me feeling less and less in control. I apologize for not feeling so optimistic just yet.

    • Richard December 29, 2014 at 4:17 pm #


      Please don’t apologize. I don’t know about your life or health, but suggesting change is the will drive the ultimate solution is the stuff of T shiirts. Some things cannot be changed no matter how strong your eill. Please cut yourself somer slack.


    • Richard December 29, 2014 at 4:19 pm #


      Please don’t apologize. I don’t know about your life or health, but suggesting change is the will drive the ultimate solution is the stuff of T shiirts. Some things cannot be changed no matter how strong your eill. Please cut yourself somer slack.

      Happy New Year,


    • Louise December 30, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

      Poor health is limiting. It just is,and so I guess that slogan is meant for others. And anyway for those with a progressive disease, change is a loaded word and luck or chance and change seem intertwined.

  11. Christopher December 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    It’s up and down all the time, for any one of us. I think you’re allowed to own your feeling miserable without feeling guilty. There’s no disguising it whatsoever… MS is a godforsaken bastard of a disease that is like a physical and mental hurricane. I’m immunocompromised from all the DMD drugs, and some careless jerk came into work sick, sneezing and coughing everywhere. I ended up in the hospital, and then spending all of Christmas hacking up phlegm and feeling totally miserable at my aunt’s dinner table. It completely sucked. But for some weird reason I’m glad I went anyway. I didn’t have to be cheery or put on a strong, defiant face… but I wasn’t about to let this nasty situation rob my life. People at work constantly tell me, “you should go home if you don’t feel well.” I’m thinkin, it’s MS… I’ll feel the same at home as I do here, so it doesn’t matter. I will admit though that there are days I feel exactly the way you describe, Elizabeth, and I just don’t want to deal with anything.

    • Richard December 29, 2014 at 4:25 pm #


      I agree. Elizabeth should take a deep breath and just live. Guilt is misplaced and self-destructive.


  12. Yvonne December 31, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    OK. I’m gonna try to hijack this blog post . Can we have a few laughs as we say goodbye to 2014? What was your funniest MS moment(s) this year? One of mine was being at a REALLY NICE restaurant with friends and attempting to cut my steak. Handling 1 eating utensil is challenging but 2 can be a recipe for disaster. First I lost the fork as it flew across the table landing in my friend’s plate. Laughed as my friend said”if you wanted to try it you could’ve just asked”. I got a replacement fork and tried again with my left hand as the dominant one holding the knife. Well, that didn’t work well as the knife slipped, I got frazzled trying to catch it before it flew and the entire plate ended in my lap. Love my friends as they said “well, your reflexes are getting better, you caught the knife and dodged an assault charge from the people at the next table” :-0 After the 30 years my friends are still picking me up physically but more importantly emotionally because they understand it’s Ok to laugh!

    • JoanZ December 31, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      Where would we be without laughter? I certainly have taken some spectacular falls this year, after which I almost always laugh. Probably reflex, but the alternative just isn’t helpful at all.

      That said, the episode which first came to mind after reading your post is of the verbal variety. You know, when you think you want to say something, but something ELSE entirely comes out? This maybe wasn’t in 2014, but it definitely involved champagne, so appropriate for New Year’s Eve, yes? I think I wanted to say “when you’ve had the BEST you don’t need the rest”, but after champagne, it came out “when you’ve had the REST, you don’t need the best”. Oops! I couldn’t stop giggling. Which made my (then) husband, SO angry, which only made me giggle more, which made him more angry, and so I giggled harder, and on and on, and on and on…

      Great hijack Yvonne!

    • Richard December 31, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

      Thanks. That was great.

      Happy New Year.


      • Richard December 31, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

        Happy New Year.

    • Richard December 31, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

      That was great. Thanks. Happy New Year.


  13. Elizabeth January 1, 2015 at 12:01 am #

    Happy New Year All!

  14. Holly January 1, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    Hi Richard, I enjoy reading your comments. My Dad has suffered from Post Herpatic Neuralgia, the pain following shingles, for 11 years now. He is in constant, excruciating pain. He is turning 90 in March. It breaks my heart to see him in the kind of pain he is in. He has gone to every doctor he can find and he has tried numerous therapies, drugs, ointments, etc.etc. that he can find. Nothing really works for him. So, in the blog you mentioned all the diseases out there that haven’t been addressed. People who suffer mind numbing pain daily, I just don’t know how they do it. Thank you for sharing your daily life with everybody.

    • Richard January 3, 2015 at 10:51 am #

      I am very sorry. I never have known anything close to that level of pain. People who endure pain carry an extraordinary burden. That is a frame of reference for dealing with our own stuff.


  15. Geof January 2, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    Over the past 9 years with MS and dealing with my kids’ illnesses, I have come to appreciate the power of different perspectives. If I said my family’s holiday was “shitty,” I suspect most people would take that as a terrible thing. However, with a daughter having slow motility, a poop a couple of days before Christmas meant being able to spend the holiday in our new home. Having many poops in the hospital meant she came home for New Years. Scat = our Christmas miracles.

    So often many of our problems look different from different perspectives. We all have challenges, and my goal for 2015 is to somehow find ways to make my life less about my challenges and more about finding ways to enable and appreciate successes in any form.

    • Richard January 3, 2015 at 10:55 am #



  16. MJ February 17, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

    Some days I don’t want to keep swimming upstream. I ask myself why I keep trying when there is nothing good in my future as long as the disease is progressing. Then I read about putting it in perspective because others have it worse.
    I have never compared myself to others, whether it be wealth or health. I just know it is very hard to deal with life in the 21st century where a gallon of milk cost $5 and the news story of the day is road rage or IsIS freaks taking aim at the entire world.
    Talk about perspective.