Sound and Fury

I still am stuck on Mark Twain. Both of us lived in the Hartford area =during formative years. He was way ahead of me with his writing. “was born with an incurable disease, so was everybody…the moment a name is given the disease, the whole thing is changed: fright ensues, and horrible depression, and the life that has learned its sentence is not worth the living.”  A powerful thought, but is it true?

The cancer brand can be a knockout punch, but which kind? Pancreatic? Skin? I was diagnosed with early stage colon cancer twice and have endured more quality of life challenges than threats to my life. Multiple sclerosis does sound bad, for multiple reasons.

Samuel Clemens was born in 1835. Medicine was primitive by today’s standards then. Language is powerful. So many diseases were tough to treat, if not incurable. No wonder citizens of sickness were frightened. Frequently they were wrestling with killers.

It seems to me this idea offers testimony to a point many have made. The psychological dimension of disease is potent. I still believe many of our battles are fought north of the neck. Attitude goes a long way in determining our prognoses. Beware of thinking the worst. That can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


28 Responses to Sound and Fury

  1. Christopher December 22, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

    Yes, it can… very much so.

    It’s really hard to smile while plummeting into the abyss, and it probably shows a unique type of resilience. That, or psychosis.

    • Richard M. Cohen December 23, 2015 at 7:39 am #


      With you, resilience. Keep on truckin’.


  2. Christopher December 22, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

    Merry Christmas to everyone, by the way.

  3. Rosanne December 22, 2015 at 11:23 pm #

    Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and…….here’s a toast to 2016!!!

    • Richard M. Cohen December 23, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

      And to you.


  4. Louisa December 23, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    I have been thinking about that Mark Twain quote since Chrisotphe posted it last week. I have never heard it before but I have been thinking its sentiment at least since diagnosis. To me. It’s as much about how others see us as we see ourselves. If i stumble over a word, omnimous glances are exchanged. If someone else does, it’s funny. MS may not be a terminal disease, ( or it might) but life is definitely terminal. And that’s for everyone, Recently a friend of mine, said to me “I barely see a change in you in the last five years” and I thought to myself “really, well, I see a lot of change in you!!” I’ve expressed this before but MS sometimes seems like life in the extreme. Driving through life in the fast lane.

  5. Sandy Stolaronek December 23, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    This speaks volumes to me and very loud and clear! I think and feel this every day, as though I have a feeling of doom looming over me and this has followed me for as long as I have been diagnosed with MS, which has been 5 years now. I always feel as though there is no hope and I imagine myself in a nursing home eventually because of the changes I’ve had in just 5 years. I am progressive relapsing and I was just told this on December 8, 2015. I hadn’t considered this, as I was told that I was secondary progressive, earlier in my diagnosis.

  6. Christopher December 23, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    That is a really good way to describe it, Sandy. A “feeling of doom looming over” everything, every day. There are some points in a day some days where I can get out of my head for a bit. But something will always be there to remind me that I can’t really escape my MS, and it colors each day with a gloomy shade that runs through everything… like an unseen purple shirt that gets thrown in a hot wash with all the white clothes, that bleeds out and everything turns gray. I guess the trick, for lack of a better word, is learning how to get around the continual disappointment.

    • Sandy Stolaronek December 23, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

      Yes, there are times when I can escape the feeling of even knowing that I have MS but in the past year, it has become less and less, as my symptoms have compounded and gotten worse. I come back to reality, as MS lets me know that it is always truly there, as it gives me a little nudge, just so that I don’t forget that it is there. No one; no matter what I have told them, what they see or hear about MS will ever understand what I feel or go through every day. I can’t blame them for not understanding or knowing, because how could they, they don’t have it and we all know that “You don’t get it, unless you’ve got it”. A quote from so many things I’ve read and heard about MS. I have stopped trying to make people get it, because I know they never will and there’s no point in wasting my breath! I usually just laugh and walk on or I just say, you don’t have MS, and point is taken, at least hopefully, lol! In the past five years since my diagnosis, I have heard and read countless stories of others who suffer as we do, people who have gone through countless therapies and even gone to other countries searching for a treatment that would make them feel better or be better, to no avail! I don’t know if there will ever be a cure in my lifetime but I know one thing, until they find out for sure what causes MS, there will be no cure. I know that there are countless studies and more therapies becoming available and they are also even concentrating more on the progressive form now than the relapsing form. Our only hope, is for them to find it in enough time for us to either reverse it and cure it, or at least stop it in it’s tracks before any more damage and disability is accrued 🙂

  7. Sandy Stolaronek December 23, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    I feel overwhelmed by all of the other health issues that I have so, I just live with them, basically. I can’t shake this negative feeling that I have and that I have no future to look forward to. I just didn’t think it would be so soon and I thought I would have more time. But who knows, maybe there is a cure just around the corner for all of us and that’s my hope for the future and for all of our futures!

  8. Pam I Am December 23, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

    I had the opposite reaction upon first being confirmed that I had MS. I was…relieved. Having a name for my constellation of symptoms felt like vindication. Vindication from all of the doctors I had consulted when a symptom would pop up–and then disappear–by the time my appointment arrived. I was checked for thyroid function, blood pressure, low iron. Told perhaps I needed a vacation; did I get enough rest, was I stressed, did I have any family history of mental illness? Offered a referral to a psychologist. A psychiatrist.

    When in doubt, blame the patient. She must be neurotic.

    So language is powerful, but for me, having a name for the disease felt less frightening and more empowering. I felt like I could fight back if whatever was wrong with me could be correctly identified. Most likely I would feel more frightened if MS were a “you have 6 months to live” prognosis instead of the lifelong sentence it has become. Right now, I just strive to be in the best mind/body health I can be in, in whatever phase I progress to.

    Peace, goodwill, and hope! to all.

    • Sandy Stolaronek December 24, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

      Pam; I felt the same way because when my symptoms became more numerous and more constant, I was afraid that I had something more serious than MS. I am grateful that it was MS and it wasn’t going to directly kill me, haha! It was something that I could live with but just have to continually adjust to. I laugh at myself a lot but I also get very frustrated at times too. I suppose you have to take the good with the bad and this Christmas, I have to say that I’m thankful for what I can do and what I do have and that’s what I am going to focus on, as well as the love of and for my family 🙂 Merry Christmas everyone!

      • Pam I Am December 26, 2015 at 11:23 pm #

        Thanks Sandy. Hope you had a Merry Christmas too!

  9. Jan1 December 23, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    Pam, love your positive outlook.

    • Pam I Am December 24, 2015 at 1:04 am #

      Thanks Jan. i often fall short, but.I always try. 🙂

  10. Jan1 December 24, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    Yes I do as well and also the physical challenges are hard but perhaps harder are the emotional ones, especially nearby.

  11. Jan1 December 24, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    Light bulb revelation: I cannot change anyone else.

    Very simple and old thought, but I am guilty of trying. Yes, guilty as charged. What is that Einstein quote about the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting change?

    I can only change myself, how I think and-view myself and others, and come to terms with reality, steadfast of spirit regardless of how anyone else acts. Consequently sometimes others do change, but only as a byproduct .

  12. Christopher December 24, 2015 at 7:05 pm #

    If anyone goes back to the earliest posts here and reads forward, they would see how much people change over the course of interacting with each other.

    I’m not completely certain, but I see that as hope. I don’t think that type of hope (as opposed to the generic alternative for a polite wish) comes from within… instead it is bestowed upon others through the act of communicating and commiserating. I think we search it out, even when our pain and doubt say otherwise and we say we’ve given up. If I’ve given up, why would I visit here anymore? To just hurt others? Or hurt myself? No, I think we exalt each other through sharing openly, which breeds a kind of hope that can’t be invented as a singular endeavor.

    I hope that everyone can appreciate how much they have changed just by sharing thoughts and experiences here with everyone else. That’s a heck of a gift. That’s hope to me.

    • Pam I Am December 25, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

      Christopher, I couldn’t agree more with your assessment. I find that every post (including many of yours!) has added to my own insight and helped broaden my perspective. I guess that’s why there are so many groups for so many afflictions. There is strength (and hope) knowing you’re not completely alone.

  13. Yvonne December 25, 2015 at 8:35 am #

    Tis the season to be jolly which is tough enough as an introvert add a progressive disease and the holidays can be both tedious and terrifying. More things to trip over, flying utensils, kids everywhere, small talk, sitting for hours, bathrooms etc. And people constantly asking “how are you doing” in that tone and look. And us with our painted brave face on when actually we’re firing heated missles from every nerve in our body. Welcome to MS holidays for many of us. Now excuse me while I go practice my happy face.

    • Pam I Am December 25, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

      Yvonne, you’ve perfectly described my Christmas Eve. I’m also an introvert and sensitive to my surroundings so it’s always a struggle getting through the festivities. I’ve gotten to the point now where I just sneak out for a nap when my body tells me to. I no longer feel guilty about asking for a break, and everyone has been gracious and understanding about it, so that helps.

  14. Brian L. December 25, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

    I’m sitting here pondering Richard’s notion that “many of our battles are fought from the neck up”. Of course he’s right. And on this Christmas Day, I can’t help but think that this blog has become an extraordinary gift, or should I say weapon, that I use in my own battle for sanity. Between Richard’s posts and all your replies, I get a sense of empathy and inclusion that is really hard to find anywhere else. In our collective war on MS, this blog is a smart bomb; delivering the emotional support right where I need it. So thank you to Richard and all who share your stories and support. Here’s wishing us all a Merry Christmas, and an optimistic New Year!!

  15. Sue in Texas December 25, 2015 at 6:37 pm #

    I wanted to wish you all out there a merry Christmas. I love The traditional holiday songs and have been streaming or playing them where ever I go. How can one not get a boost from all the joy around? One of my favorites is “White Christmas” …
    So from that song my wish to you right now today is to ” Let your heart be light
    From now on, our troubles will be out of sight
    Have yourself a merry little Christmas!”

  16. Ann December 25, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

    I’m wishing everyone the happiest holiday ever and a New Year full of strength, love and peace.

  17. Jan1 December 29, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    In thinking of the word, “hope:”

    Reminds me of the word “ability,” as in hope in the ability to do, to reach, to attain whatever.

    Also saw a while back: “disABILITY”

    So, I shall see that word in a more positive light in 2016.

  18. Christopher December 29, 2015 at 6:58 pm #


  19. Jan1 December 31, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    Thanks, Christopher… and in this New Year, maybe it’s time that I admit that it is what it is, meaning that, if asked, I may admit to (friends as) having a rather major health issue that qualifies for disability status, but that I prefer to focus on ability and what I can do (as opposed to always trying to hide it all–that doesn’t work so well anyway). Doesn’t mean I’m throwing in the towel: on the contrary, just admitting reality to myself but still taking a positive, can-do approach.

    I totally get Richard’s points about the hardest battles being north of the neck–I seem to act at times as if I’m walking around with a scarlet “M” around my neck, as if in shame. I need to stop doing that. Perhaps in admitting reality when appropriate (not with a new work client), it will help in dealing with it all better.

    However, I also just may begin with that rather funny retort I read in here a while back, about getting too aggressive in a Quidditch match and falling off of my broomstick. (!)

  20. Sue in TX January 5, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    Happy new year!. I hope all here will have joy peppered into their days as we move forward into 2016. I was sorry to hear about Meridith’s show and found this quote from Michael j. Fox that I thought gave good direction to us all: ““There’s always failure. And there’s always disappointment. And there’s always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums.”