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Personal Statement: Maintaining stability

By Alden Reiss, Managing Photo Editor
Published November 26, 2012

Rather than looking at his patients as markings on a chart, Sadiq gets a sense of each patient as a whole person, chatting with them about their significant others, family, friends and hobbies. For Sadiq, understanding a person’s lifestyle is key to understanding how to treat their MS. Because of these almost-therapeutic office visits, his patients have come to love him. Not just like him — they love him. I know this because each one of them told me. I had never heard anyone talk about their doctor the way these patients spoke about Sadiq.

Through this project, I found out that every person, and the manifestation of their version of the disease, was completely different. The medication, treatment, symptoms and stage of MS vary so much that it seemed to me each patient I photographed had a different disease.

But I found that those who had family or friends helping them dealt with the disease much better. There was one man who had lost so much body function that he couldn’t control his motorized wheelchair with his hands; he had to control it with his head movements instead. When I walked into the room, he was lying down and receiving his treatment. But as we spoke about the progression of his disease, he was incredibly positive and kind. He had two people with him at his appointment.

This made me wonder: Which came first, the good attitude or the support? Did those who had friends and family supporting them have people helping them because of their good attitude? Or did they have a good attitude because people loved them enough to help?

Either way, seeing some of the MS patients who dealt with their disease on their own made me really sad. It made me remember how important it is to be there for my dad. Whether he needs help or doesn’t, it can’t hurt to let him know that I’m here if he wants it.

There is nothing fun about struggle or sickness. Even though my dad has an incredibly debilitating disease with no hope of recovery at the moment, our family survives because of our love for each other — and a good sense of humor. When my dad repeats himself for the third time in one meal, we laugh about it, make jokes and give him big hugs. When we are at social events and his fatigue is causing him to talk so much that it’s annoying others, we give him a special look. He responds with a zip of his lips and a smile. Our communication and loving attitude toward the disease make it all work.

Alden Reiss is an Art & Design junior and a managing photo editor for The Michigan Daily.