Friday, 15 March 2013

In the news - Chris Wright

And on the subject of misconceptions…

ESPN ran this article this week - the first ever NBA player with MS. Awesome! Look, we can be athletes too! [sorry, slight facetiousness there] 
As great as that is, there are a few things in this article that irk me.
Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. "He's a high-character, tough competitor who's had to consistently overcome personal challenges like MS to put himself in this position. The physical obstacles he's had to contend with are significant."
No, just no. MS is not a personal challenge. We don't get to "take on" MS and overcome it. This isn't some tale with a scary dragon and a hero. No doubt he's had to contend with physical obstacles. I can't even imagine how his body is dealing with the incredible heat it must be enduring*. He's in remission. I hope he stays there. If not, I hope he's in the NBA long enough to make enough money to make life with MS a little easier. But to say he has overcome MS is incredibly misleading and naive.
Added coach Rick Carlisle… "It shows determination and an element of resourcefulness, which I think is a very important quality on any NBA team…"
WHAT? He's resourceful because his body went into remission? How about taking some of the pressure off this guy? Holy crap. What happens if he relapses? Is he less resourceful then? Less of an inspiration?
There are other things here that bug me. I find the idea of someone with MS doing something fantastic and being deemed an inspiration condescending. I have a very rich, regular life. I get it, though. Aim for success, regardless of your physical state. Just know that for many with MS, success is getting out of bed, tying shoes, making dinner - really basic stuff. That said, congrats to Chris Wright for making the NBA. 

*Uhthoff's phenomenon, a worsening of neurological symptoms that's a manifestation of heat intolerance, is incredibly common in people with MS. Just try to have a sensible conversation with me after I have a hot shower, blow dry my hair and attempt to use a flat iron. 

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