Trevis's blog - speaking of MS
“My name is Trevis Gleason and I live with Multiple Sclerosis.”
I’ve started countless speeches with that opening line. From small gatherings of people living with the disease to, in the case of recent events, fundraising luncheons attended by over a thousand.
It’s not easy to get up and tell our stories; sometimes it feels a bit vain and self-important to think that someone would actually want to know about my life with MS. At the same time, I feel that it is my responsibility to speak up, when asked, and sometimes when I’m not …
Here in America, it’s not uncommon to be asked about an “elevator speech” (I guess that would be “lift speech” in the UK?). You get into the lift and the doors close. You’ve got until the doors open on your floor to get your point across. I believe it started as a business term for busy executives one might be trying to impress. I am of the opinion that each of us might need to hone a Lift Speech for the occasions we have to speak to someone about MS.
According to the UK MS Society website, “Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK.” The US counterpart’s site reads, “Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves”.
I, quite frankly, don’t see either of those ending up in my lift speech. Both are true, both are factual, both are accurate. Both are also woefully clinical.
Each of us must come up with our own definition of MS before we can build a speech around the topic. For me, MS is a thief … a thief who comes in the night and steals what is not its to take, and leaves behind symptoms unwelcomed. MS can – and has - affected most every part of my body which is controlled by or through the central nervous system. MS is my enemy.
Now, that’s something I can build a speech around.
Day in and day out, we are given the opportunity to avoid speaking about our disease or to speak out about it. We needn’t choose to talk about it every time the chance presents. We should, however, have at least a lift speech prepared for the times we decide appropriate.
Do you have a standard response about MS?
Wishing you and your family the best of health.