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“When I was first diagnosed with MS I required a recovery period. It took me over a month post-first attack to make it all the way around my block. When I finally started venturing from home by myself a month or so later people would comment on me being “too young” to use a cane. One person even accused me of using the cane as a way to get a seat on the bus. But I would tell them.

“I have multiple sclerosis,” and people would tell me stories about their aunts, cousins, co-workers, friends who also had MS. Usually, horror stories of job losses and spouses leaving because of their infirmity or how their MS person didn’t need a cane and still went skiing so surely I must be doing this whole “cane in public thing” for attention. But every once in a while someone would say,

“Look on the bright side, it’s not cancer/some other disease with a high mortality rate. You should feel lucky you’re not terminal.”

Yes, I was super-duper grateful to not be dying even though I absolutely did not want to live with MS. (I remain unconvinced that what I am doing now with MS is even close to living, but that’s a story for another time.) I was depressed and having suicidal ideations and having a difficult time coping with anything and this stranger wanted me to be thankful that I wasn’t dying of a terminal illness.

These people weren’t worth the assault charges. I was too tired to fight with them. So I just smiled and said “I guess you’re right,” and then found a way to get the hell out of there as fast as possible. Because there was always a sub-group of the Brightsiders who knows they have a cure/read a thing about a thing/had a cousin’s friend’s neighbour’s aunt who “cured” her MS with this thing.”

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