Monday, November 13, 2006

Making a case

Last Friday, I got a visit from a friend. T's not somebody I feel I know well, mostly because he lives elsewhere, but a guy who's a little older and a little smarter than me, the kind of guy I wish I knew more of. Anyway, T came over Friday evening and we had a lovely meal with some really nice wines he brought with him, and a couple neighbors popped in for a glass, and it was really great. I made a squash bisque and roasted a couple chickens and we had a little fancy chocolate tasting after the meal. Nice.

T. spent the night, and we were both up and about at 7:30 or so the next morning, and we got into this kinda long conversation about me and MS. T's a lawyer, too, has a fabulous analytical mind and a very easy-going manner, and he started out with an open-ended question like "So how's your health?" or something like that. I gave him the sort of autopilot answer that I give without thinking, something like, "Oh, not too bad, I guess" or something like that. I don't remember exactly how it went from there, but he just started to ask a few more questions that made it clear that he really wanted to know how things were going.

T wasn't so much interested in any of the history, but really seemed interested in a pretty deep account of where I'm at are now. It's been a long time since I had a conversation like that. I don't have a very large social circle, just a few close friends and assorted medical professionals; these people either know the whole story, because they've participated in it, or they don't, because they haven't asked or because I'm kinda tight-lipped.

Anyway, the theme, I guess, was coping: How do you do it? Why do you do it? What makes some people able to do it, but not others? T's got a pretty close friend with MS (also a lawyer) and he talked about his admiration for those of us who manage to retain some level of control over our situations and his dismay at his inability to understand others who seem unable to cope, particularly a couple of members of his family who've lost or are losing battles with alcoholism.

I don't remember much about what we said, although we went on for an hour or so. But I remember feeling strangely satisfied that I'd stated my case, that I'd been called on to give an account of my experience of my illness--how it feels, and how I live with it--and had been judged worthy. I guess I like to think of myself as a person who doesn't like to feel like he owes anyone. I want to make do for myself, meet life on my terms, but I know that I often feel a contradictory urge to prove that independence. Saturday morning, I had the feeling that I'd made a persuasive argument.

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