Sunday, 12 June 2011

Commiserations - or celebrations

There's a great temptation if you have a degenerative condition to feel sorry for yourself. Or for your carer to feel sorry for him/herself, as usually they're your husband or wife. We were at two very different events on Saturday: one was an MNDA Coffee Morning across the village at our friends', John and Jean; the other was a ruby wedding lunch for some old friends, David and Margaret. You would have thought that the atmosphere was quite different in the morning and afternoon - one subdued and the other up-beat.

However not so. As well as friends and neighbours, there were four of us there who had MND at various points of progression, Jean herself, David the herb farmer, Maria the shopper, and me. Three of us were out in the garden, and, yes, we did talk about our frustrations and the lessons we'd learned, but it wasn't a moany sort of conversation. It was companionable, and at times jokey. One of us commented that she'd learned humility and patience; another that he'd learned impatience! I think we might have thinking about the same phenomenon: we've been discovering how impatient we are. I'm lucky as I'm the only one whose upper motor neurone disorder has so far left my hands and arms intact. But even that leaves me frustrated.

One of us talked about the dark times he experienced on occasions, but also of the enjoyment he derived from friends' visits. We could all identify with that. John and Jean's house was buzzing for two and a half hours, full of conversation and full of life - and in our corner with a lot of laughter.

So it wasn't all that different from the 40th wedding anniversary party on our friends' farm. Their best man and four bridesmaids were all there. Friends had come from both ends of the country. The marquee buzzed with conversation; the groom's speech was jokey and serious. And of course the food was excellent.

Life is for celebrating, not for moaning about. There's a very positive article by Geoff Morris, who has MS which you can read on line, about the depressing Terry Pratchett programme due to be shown tomorrow evening. I think he has seen a preview and knows what he's talking about. He describes it as a Saccharine picture of suicide. It raises the very real issue of whether the film encourages suicide - which is of course against the law, against the royal law of love, and against life which should be cherished as the most precious of gifts. And of course it raises the questions of what the BBC is up to showing it, and when it will show the opposite as a balance.


  1. As someone who is more or less sound in mind and body (I was going to put "spirit" but you know what Carol would say about my spirits) I find these notes of yours most uplifting. God's peace be with you.

  2. Should people not have a choice? Yes there should be a balance, but why should alternate viewpoints not be available?

  3. Alternative viewpoints, certainly. But can you remember the BBC's programmes about hospice care, which we're told have been put on? There are, of course, lots of areas where people should have a choice. But we don't have choices in everything.

  4. Interested to know what you thought of the Panorama debate afterwards. Bishop Michael agreed to go on after much thought, as no one else will, despite concerns about screening TP programme in first place.

  5. I thought Bishop Michael was excellent. He came across as compassionate and principled. I thought his comments were measured. I'm glad he was there.