On Friday I received good news. My MRI showed no new lesions. The me of last March was indeed the me of today. Funny how images of the brain can track disease, but not knowledge.
As a teacher I am always reminded to appreciate and embrace “Teaching Moments”, best defined as a moment when a student “gets it”, regardless of how you get them there.
This weekend I learned that my MS could be frozen. Yes, I experienced a moment or two of regret and longing that it couldn’t have been frozen sooner. But then again, if it’d been stopped as soon as it had started, how would the (immeasurable) knowledge have had time to seep in?
That evening I celebrated with my husband, friends, and family. I had a few drinks, a taste of cheesecake, a tuna melt, and a few rounds on the roulette wheel. I felt carefree and alive. I knew the MS was still there, but with the help of Gilenya, we’d tamed her.
For the first time since I was diagnosed, there was clear proof that I’m doing the right thing. Sure, I would have loved to hear that a lesion or two had actually disappeared, as some patients have reported with Gilenya, but I’ve never been a greedy person. Perhaps that’s a long-term goal that I can place neatly onto my growing Bucket List. Afterall, if I’m going to be here, alive and well for the next few decades, I’d like to keep that list interesting.
On Saturday evening my best friends talked a bouncer into letting us into a club, by name dropping. It’s so not me; in fact, it’s not even them. But when you have a name to drop, well, you use it for the sake of having knowledge to flash around like some fancy badge.
“We’re here to see Walter,” my friend Jeannie declared boldly, at the front of the VIP line as the rest of us cowered behind her long legs and blond hair. “Sure,” said the bouncer without missing a beat. “How do you know him?” And then, my favorite moment – Jeannie saying, “We go way back.”
She’d pulled it off – effortlessly. We’d never laid eyes on the guy, not to mention even heard his name before that evening. But the ropes came up, and we hastily filed into the club, past the line of eager club-goers-in-waiting.
Inside it was loud, crowded, hot – everything you’d expect from a club. And soon enough a guy approached our group, saying to me specifically, “So, how are you girls tonight?” I went into survival mode, avoidance mode, annoyance mode. “No,” I said quickly, “You see, we’re just here to see Walter.”
And then his response, “Yeah, well I bet Walter’s a Fa*g*t”. My heart stopped. My teacher instinct kicked in. It ran through my veins, even when my veins were soaked with vodka, cheesecake, and contrast dye.
“Stop,” I said to him firmly. “Listen to me. You don’t say that word, do you understand?”
Stunned, he looked at me, not sure what to make of my response. And then he folded, “Well, I know…I mean, I’m a Christian, and I almost never say that word,” he rambled in confession. “Well, you don’t almost never say it,” I replied, “You just never say it.”
Yelling into my ear he replied, “Yeah, you’re right. I’m sorry.” He was genuine enough, and we parted ways. He returned to his original goal and I returned to my celebration.
Moments later he was groping some girl he’d just met, and I wondered what his pick-up line had been the second time around. It didn’t matter; what did matter was that I’d used the moment to teach. Maybe this time I hadn’t taught him about MS or the struggles that I face because of a disease that’s misunderstood, but I taught him something about people and respect, no matter what the circumstances.