Once upon a time, in an era so far away it should be in black and white, I took no interest in US politics…
Presidents would only waft across my consciousness when starting wars or teaching me the word ‘impeach’ by making a mess of a dress and an intern’s life… (younger readers: Google ‘Clinton’, ‘Lewinsky’, ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’. And please behave when you rule the world.)
Then came a breath of fresh air and a brief, delicious taste of diversity in power with Barrack Obama. I got interested and started to vaguely pay attention.
I was even more excited when former fighter pilot President Whitmore played a key role in defeating a pesky alien invasion. (I fear they’ll come back, but I reckon we’ll be better prepared. You heard it here first)
Wanna watch the speech again? Marvellous! Here it is! https://youtu.be/TVW3wCm3BLA
Sadly it all came crashing down four years later when a man with a lover called Stormy Daniels, stormed to power. And promptly stormed out again. With some last gasp Capitol storming before he sulked and squirmed his way out.
But now, now? Well things are wonderful again because an amazing man called President Bartlet is in charge. If you haven’t seen it there’s a fabulous fly-on-the-wall documentary called ‘The West Wing’. It’s absolutely fascinating.
President Bartlet and I have lot in common.
Have you enjoyed this well-researched piece into US history? I can happily blame my foggy MS brain – and indeed nowadays ‘The Donald’ – for any blurring of the lines between fact and fiction.
But at last I have got to the point. Portraying a Multiple Sclerosis life in the limelight. Getting the facts and the emotions accurate. At least that’s what I thought I would be writing about ahead of watching The West Wing. I knew MS featured and was ready to dive in and critique the ‘usual’ crap, wonky portrayal of this weird illness in the media. But no, as of early episodes of Series 3, I’m watching a stonking show, with an invisible illness being outed by circumstance.
With the exception of a moment in Series 1 when President Bartlet’s wife mentioned ‘a fever could kill him’ – and I temporarily moved into grump mode – Multiple Sclerosis is well portrayed and takes a back seat to the emotions experienced by everyone else involved.
And that’s where I have been floored, and ‘thought-provoked’. Diagnosis in 2007 was a haze for me. Shock, confusion. Not a lot of grief at the time. No anger. Numbness, just like one of the more common physical symptoms. Mrs W tells me there were tears, though I don’t recall any.
What I did next I feel guilty about to this day. I had an invisible illness at the time, and whilst I had immediately consulted Dr Google and decided I had weeks to live, none of this had sunk in. So I blurted it out blithely to all and sundry. To my nearest and dearest, to my colleagues at work, to close friends. To anyone in hearing range frankly.
And watching the impact of President Bartlet’s news hitting his close colleagues like a Mike Tyson blow to the head, or the solar plexus, is a tough watch. They’re at times confused, shocked and bewildered. Often angry. What was the impact of the news to my mum, to my sister, to friends, to colleagues? I’ll never really know and that’s an awful, awful feeling.
I’m constantly grappling with the ‘guilt’ of having Multiple Sclerosis and fearing what it does to those around me. Silly I know. Thinking back to how I dealt with and ‘unveiled’ my diagnosis? Also silly… Hey ho, shouldn’t look back. I can’t change how I messed up. I can only be the best of myself now.
I have concluded that the presidency is now in good hands with Jed Bartlet. And we hardly need another MSer in charge after him. Especially as I fall asleep at the drop of a silly hat.
So I’m aiming bigger instead. ‘King of the World’? How does that sound?