Enough is Enough

Am I being unreasonable?

After I was diagnosed with MS, I reasoned that the illness would be my great burden.  I got used to the distant fears.  I was healthy and spent years in the television news business, running all over the world.  I loved the life of the roaming rogue, getting on top of a story an moving on.  When I went through Hong Kong, I hung out at the antique Foreign Correspondent’s Cub.  I expected to peer through the thick clouds of cigarette smoke and see Bogie at the bar.

When running became walking and turned to stumbling, I hung up my spurs and said with a chuckle, At least the MS has indemnified me against other diseases.  Enough is enough, I reasoned, and I had paid my dues.  God was not on my radar screen, and I had no use for organized religion.  But divine justice would not countenance two harsh sentences for no apparent crime. That had to be.

“I found a malignant polyp.”  The gastroenterologist announced the first discovery of colon cancer.  “You have a spot on your liver,” the surgeon said softly. “We have to check it out. “  The second bout of colon cancer was off to a bad start.    “I recommend a lumbar fusion,” my friend the orthopedic surgeon advised.  “The pain is too bad to ignore.”  Really?  I could try.  “You have a pulmonary embolism perched next to your heart,” the stunning announcement went.  We have to get you into an ICU.”

Okay.  Stop the presses.  I want to talk to my lawyer.  This was not the deal.  Really?  I believe you told us you are an atheist.  I don’t think there is anybody here to talk to.  This is not fair.  Really?  Tell it to the judge.  Pause.  By the way.  You have herpes zoster.  Huh?  Shingles.  And it is pretty painful.

Yes it is.

Who gets treated this way?  Let me see.  How bout my friend who died of a virulent brain tumor?  My former editor at the Times, whose breast cancer has metastasized to every organ in her belly?   Oh.  How about starving children all over the world?  I get the point.  A close call or two and a few painful problems do not qualify one for the role of Job in the school play.  Why me? Really should be, Why not me?  Life is unfair.  Now tell me something I don’t know.

16 Responses to Enough is Enough

  1. Christopher April 20, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    I see your point, sir.

    Now, if you are certain, I would be obliged to answer your rhetorical question… but only because I like your mind. Cognitive dissonance is something people don’t generally hear about in common conversation, outside of maybe a Cornell psychology study group. [nicked from a Wikipedia entry] “In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the excessive mental stress and discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time. This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction.” You, like many and/or all of us, were picked for these things. But to get to the heart of “why” would take tons of faith, many intimate conversations with a higher power and eons of reincarnations to find the truth in the reason. To get to the heart of “how” requires being in a better place of more energy to seek the evidence in a grain of sand, and also taking eons to pick apart how one atomic particle influences its neighbors and causing a cascade at a tipping point which leads to a disease state. Each has its place and requires some acknowledgement of the other without falling into complacency. The most important thing though isn’t the answer, or which way is better at arriving there. It’s the journey and having the temerity to take the parts you want and need, without feeling guilty, to be able to create your own unique and indelible narrative throughout your existence. Perhaps in one sense Bogey is at the bar on the other side of that crepuscular haze. And in another sense, he’s waiting to talk to you about what you have planned next.

    • Richard M. Cohen April 20, 2014 at 8:16 pm #


      Do you live in New York? This may require a meeting and a drink or three.


      • Betty Moody April 20, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

        Skype me in. 🙂

      • Ken April 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

        yes, you and Christopher sound like similar minds. Love reading the blogs, some require pretty deep thought, and several readings, and that is good thing for an MS’er who has more than enough time to look into statements. takes some energy, but often worth the effore, so that’s a good thing…have a good day .

  2. Janie April 21, 2014 at 1:47 am #

    You are not being unreasonable and all you’ve had thrown at your body and had to deal with sucks. Not a profound statement I know and maybe you are hoping for some wisdom that can help you feel differently but I feel that way too sometimes. I’m sure most of us do. It will subside and not always be the most prominent state of mind for us but it is reasonable. I just wanted you to know that you’re not alone. That’s what your blog has given me. A voice of someone who understands my feelings and often puts into words what I cannot. Thank you so very much Richard and I wish you well.

    • Richard M. Cohen April 21, 2014 at 8:28 am #

      Could you scratch my back?

      We will get through this.


  3. Mark April 21, 2014 at 6:07 am #

    That is one heck of a CV! It sounds all too familiar. Beats leading a monotonous life, though. Everyday is an adventure, right? I tend to agree….no need to whine. We just deal with it.

    Enjoy the blog.

    Thank you,


    • Richard M. Cohen April 21, 2014 at 8:31 am #


      Agreed. Whine for a moment or two and get on with it. I have a good life.


  4. Carmen April 21, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    Despite all your health hurdles, you’ve consistently chosen to limit your pity party time. Glad to know you have the enduring wherewithal and perspective to rise above life’s muck. Keep singing “the sun will come up tomorrow”.

    • Richard M. Cohen April 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

      Did I tell you I hate that song?


  5. Karen April 22, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    I just wrote about this exact issue for a class I’m taking on guided autobiography. I have pain almost every night – sometimes really significant pain – and a dozen other bothersome symptoms, but how do I complain? My MS is relatively mild and I know how lucky I am compared to others with this illness. My life expectancy is normal, my family is healthy, and we have plenty of food on the table. Sometimes I think a sense of perspective is MS’s greatest gift.

    Still, you have so much battle – certainly much more than I do. Kudos to you for seeing the big picture in light of this fact. It’s not easy to do.

    Good luck…

    • Richard M. Cohen April 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm #


      We all just keep going. What else can we do?


  6. MB April 23, 2014 at 12:33 am #

    On Twitter you asked if we get weary of the fight. Yes. It’s mentally and physically exhausting most days and after nine years I still find myself imagining myself in situations where I’m well. That’s when emotional weariness creeps in. But everyday I regroup and refocus my attentionon on the many positives in my life. Like you said, what else can we do but get on with it.

  7. Betty Moody April 23, 2014 at 3:44 am #

    Coping mechanisms. It’s complicated. Denial works. So does hope, humor, hard work, swearing, risk taking, love, escape, inspiring others, and being inspired, For me, it can sound something like this in my head: “That wasn’t too bad, it could be worse. Better than the time before? Don’t eat that. Sit. Stop. Go ahead, lift it; careful. Higher, longer, slower…watch it. Let them pass you. Smile. Stop, breath, chi. You have to pee, again? Do it now. Take it with you. Be prepared. You can do it. 1,2,3,4… Keep going. Nope, no way in hell. Not today. Not those shoes. Not worth it. Damn it. Where’s a chair? Where’s my stick? That’s worse. That’s better. That’s weaker. That’s weirder. Try harder”. It’s a great day if I can put my pants on without sitting down (be honest), without falling down. It’s exhausting. It’s boring. It’s maddening. Call me crazy, but it’s also quite fascinating – this mind/body relationship. I think of it as the inside me, and the outside me. Backstage and the front of the house. We work together, and it takes all we’ve got to get up, figure it out, put a smile on, and face the day. The show must go on.

    • Richard M. Cohen April 23, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

      Very well said. Are you a writer? You captured the rapid fire craziness of the whole thing. You have your act together.


  8. Betty April 24, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Life has always given me words. This disease is giving me a voice.