Why MS sufferers like me need to have the highs and lows of unrealistic optimism | Peter Thompson

Patient taking piils

‘Four instances the typical dose of statins? What the hell? Make it eight instances, please.’ Photograph: Cultura/Rex

One more day, yet another bit of thrilling news about a medical breakthrough. For a a number of sclerosis patient like me, the course of a day can see you raised from a height of happiness and expectation at a headline to a minimal brought on by qualification and modest print. In some techniques, the best breakthrough would be a pill that protects one particular towards people highs and lows. Meanwhile one particular has to fall back on an capacity to study in between the lines, differentiate journalistic hyperbole from health care realism, and come to a conclusion that makes it possible for for hope but prepares for disappointment.

Today’s information is that specific statins, taken in higher dose, might assist to slow down the progress of MS in its later stages. At very first glance this seems like two marauding birds killed with one extremely cheap stone. As a 53-12 months-previous man who enjoys a sausage roll, I have been worrying more about my cholesterol amounts not too long ago than about the signs and symptoms of my MS, and right here comes a pill that guarantees to deal with both. All of a sudden, fears that I had about the side-results of statins are dissipated by the hopes that one particular has about the side-effects of statins. Exactly where just before I had rejected the idea of going on a drug like that each day for the rest of my life, now I can’t wait to get down to the GP to get place on the trial dose.

4 times the regular? What the hell? Make it eight occasions, please, and how does it match in with the additional vitamin D3 I am taking, and the additional folic acid and vitamin B12, and cod-liver oil by the spoonful, and all the other issues that have been suggested by healthcare personnel and friends?

But underneath all this optimistic clutching at straws there is the recognition that one has an sickness, an sickness that is not going to go away, that is possibly going to get worse and that – even if this new miracle remedy proves to be correct – will slow the shrinking of the brain only from .six% to .3% a 12 months. On the other hand, in no way have 3-thousandths of the trillions of neurons and nerve cells in my brain seemed so useful and worth preserving.

And this is the issue: the unrealistic optimism that is an essential portion of human character drives us to believe in miracle cures, regardless of whether they be statins, the lottery, or the spittle of a supposed messiah. Existence without the highs and lows of hope and dashed expectations would hardly be a existence really worth living.

When creating about my diagnosis in the Guardian some many years ago, I said that science was not my god, but it could be my salvation. That remains my position today, and I feel it is frequently the place of several folks with numerous various ailments and illnesses. Beneath the drugs and lotions and new-age quackery that our pains and aches lead us in the direction of, there is an undertow, an underpinning and an imagined certainty that – as with all those other ailments that were once so typical and are now so uncommon – ours too will a single day be a distant memory. Perhaps not to us, but, as Brecht when put it: to those who come later on.

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