When I was diagnosed twenty years ago someone, probably my neurologist, drew a pie chart that showed that when diagnosed, 10% of people with MS have the mild kind, 40% have the relapsing-remitting kind, and half have the progressive kind. I was in the 40%. "Cool," I thought. Already, I was winning.
Then, he divided my 40% pie slice in half, to show that only 50% of my type would jump slices to the progressive slice of the pie. I had already dismissed the bad side of the pie, so I saw this:
"Well, that's nothing to worry about," I thought. Tiny slice of bad news. I was comforted to see my impending doom sliced up into manageable bits.
Of course, at the time I was actively brain-damaged, and did not recognize this for the Jedi mind trick that it was, and I can't even say that I let go of that pie chart memory until last month, when I tried to find it for a co-worker with a newly-diagnosed friend. I looked for it on the MS Society website, where they do not have my interactive, diminishing pie chart. Instead, they have many disheartening line charts, with lines that go up and do not come all the way back down like I have always assumed they do.
Since I saw that pie chart years ago, my MS has taken a ridiculously easy course. Only two relapses and then stopped in its tracks by the Gilenya. No relapses for eleven years. Bye, bye, MS Progressive Pie.
I am not looking at those line charts again, because while I realize now that the pie is a lie, it still comforts me. It’s a sugar pie, made of placebos, I guess, and we know that placebos still work, even when you know they’re a lie.