Do I have to??

So this weekend (6/3) I’m going to a learning symposium offered by the NYC chapter of the MS Society. The topic is immunology. Truth be known I probably wouldn’t be going were it not for the film presentation that is part of the lecture. I offered to connect the NMSS to a student filmmaker for the project. That student (now graduated) was my T.A. This connection gave me the bird’s eye view of the entire production.

On the day of the shoot-which took place in an immunology research lab -everyone in my office went along to assist. I watched and listened to the filmmaking process. Sometimes as a filmmaker observing the possibilities for different shots, and speaking with the film “crew” about thoughts on the images that will make the piece more engaging.

As I listened to the research scientists speak about their life’s work, their findings and efforts towards a cure, I was suddenly the only person in the room who has the disease they are taking about.

As they discuss the mice who have been genetically altered to spontaneously develop AES, it’s what is happening in my brain that they are most interested in. So while everyone is busy asking questions that will flesh out the film, I’m working hard to not think about what my T-cells are doing, and whether or not any are making the journey across the blood/brain barrier with desitnation neuron.

So it’s a constant battle in my brain, no- in my mind. I’m a filmmaker, I’m a patient. I’m a filmmaker, I’m a patient, harkening back to the movie Chinatown in an emotional slapfest.

Once the film was completed I watched it, trying to keep my head in the “Life-of-Learning” mode. And it worked. I was able to watch the film as a person with MS who wants to learn more and for that pupose I think it successful. Also successful was my attempt at keeping my editor’s eye closed as I critiqued the subtle flaws that were symptomatic of a film that was put this together so quickly.

So now I’m faced with to go or not to go. Of course I’d rather be home with my daughter and husband… that’s a reasonable excuse. Adding another commute to my week isn’t exactly appealing. It is also a very hot time, and heat doesn’t do me well.

Let’s look at the other side. It would probably be educational. Having the opportunity to asses the learning environment from the instuctional design perspective is the root of all that interests me at the moment. It would better inform me about how this has changed – or I have changed since my last meeting in 1989. Can that really be how long it’s been since I’ve attended one of these things?

Flashback to 1989 (feel free to insert wayne’s world gesture to the tune of dreamweaver.)

As I fought my fears with my desire to learn I decided to give the MS Society a try. There was an event for the recently diagnosed at a local community center- maybe that would be better. So I dragged a few of my newly found friends at film school to this event. My fear was apparent from the moment we parked the car. If a symptom list in a book is the script of my new life story, I found the made for TV movie, the ABC after school special

Now my fears were technicolor. The house landed and we aren’t anywhere near Kansas. The room was filled with variations on a theme. I clenched my teeth through a round table (or circle of chairs in this case) discussion with a participant who couldn’t pronounce exacerbation. On my way out the door, I met a woman with invisible symptoms like mine. I told her I was a film student, to which she replied “I hope nothing goes wrong with your eyes” Thanks, I hadn’t even considered that.

So things have changed in my life since then. I’ve had MS for 19 years now, so I have had some time under my belt with the uncertain future and I’m more comfortable with it. This could be an opportunity to put it to the test, to acknowledge the differences in who I am now as opposed to then.

….tune in to next time to find out how it turned out.

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