DR. ERIC THOMAS | YOU OWE YOU
MS and baseball (no, really, follow me here . . .)
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While at the opening game of Seattle Mariners baseball this week, I thought I should try to write something about baseball and MS. I was searching for the elusive analogies and metaphors. There were so many that I could have latched onto, but none seemed to ring true.I thought about how baseball is a game of statistics and history. I pondered on a renewal of the spirit every spring and hope ever flowing in the April of each year. I was close when I thought how the same two teams can play each other on different days and get completely different results. It wasn't working. I was just about to abandon my idea of MS and baseball, and then I went to another game on Wednesday.
Sometimes, the muse comes from a place deep within, sometimes from far, far away. Such was the case as I sat in section 308, row 1, seat 24 at Safeco Field. My inspiration came from, of all places, Uganda - that's right, the African nation of Uganda, right there at Safeco Field on a bright and sunny Wednesday baseball afternoon.
A group of faculty from a Catholic school in Uganda was sitting in the section next to me for this game. From what I overheard, none had ever seen, let alone attended, a baseball game. One of their hosts was trying to explain the game to a few members of the group. All right, I was eavesdropping, I admit.
Baseball, like MS, is not easy to explain to people. As a passionate fan of the game and all of its wonderful complexities, I was acutely aware of what the host was missing in her explanations, but she was persistent. It seemed that every time there was a play or throw or movement on the field, she had to explain another part of the game. The task was daunting, but she continued to try - starting to sound familiar?
Baseball almost runs in my veins, not unlike MS. It's easy for me to spend hours talking about the complexities of baseball to another fan, another thing altogether to talk to someone who knows nothing of the sport. The next time I'm asked to explain MS to someone, I'm going to remember that afternoon at the ballpark.
When people ask about MS, and they will, I'm going to think of it as explaining the complex world of a baseball game. I won't talk about the disease like I talk baseball to a fellow fan or MS to a person at my self-help group. I'll try to describe MS bit by bit, piece by piece, or better yet, play by play.
I've found in my roll as a National MS Society Ambassador that people are willing to sit through a description of our disease if we respect their knowledge or lack thereof. The next time I'm asked to give an overview of the game of MS, I'll think back on the woman trying to explain baseball to people who had no idea of the sport.
The most important nugget I picked up that afternoon was this: If someone who has no idea what MS is and is still willing to sit through nine innings of an MS discussion, I really should buy them some peanuts and a beer.
Wishing you and your family the best of health,
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