Teach it Forward – The dentist epsiode

Last week I went to visit my dentist (something I do all too often!) and he asked how my website is going. I began to describe the status, and referred to my online experiences that bring out anxieties. He saw that as a sign to wax poetic about all of his patients with MS who he’s watched get progressively worse as they have come and gone over the years.What was he thinking? Does he know that even though it doesn’t look like it, I have the same MS as the patients he was describing. I may be one of those people who comes and goes from his office, for him to watch as I lose abilities. These are the images I would leave his office with.So I paused. Clearly he does not understand the variable nature of this disease. So I will have to explain. ” That is just the information I’m trying to avoid.” Now I am the teacher.This discussion is not something I would have attempted early on in my disease. I would have been wounded, not said anything, and left the office angry. After 19 years of MS my approach has changed.This is my MS; it has shaped the person I am today. Once I took ownership of it I realized that better educating the people in my world helped me feel more comfortable. The better understood I am, the less explaining I need to do. But it also has a greater effect. MS is not rare. There are many people “walking” around with this diagnosis. The more individuals in the world who understand what MS is, and what it isn’t the better off we, the diagnosed people, are.Teach it forward.Hopefully the next time a person with MS sits in my dentist’s chair he won’t ramble on about details that would make his patient feel anxious, and his patient will feel better understood. I know I will.

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