And then I dreamt:
I dreamed again last night. It was one of those all-night dreams. I could not tell you whether I was awake or asleep, except that Petey the poodle barked, and I was awake after that. I think you may only remember your dreams if you wake up in the middle of them.
Anyway, in the first dream, I was in Washington. My grandmother lived there, and worked for a Congressman from Michigan, Bill Broomfield. In 1956, Broomfield was elected as a Republican from Michigan's 18th District to the United States House of Representatives for the 85th and to the seventeen succeeding Congresses, serving from January 3, 1957. I had my picture taken with my family in his office. I think Kennedy was running against Nixon.
You know how dreams seem to segue better than television or the movies? Well, this one did, while we were looking at the White House. I mean we were in some room that looked like a living room. Then the segue happened, and I was at my desk in the second grade. A nun popped her head in the door and motioned for our teacher to come and speak to her. They spoke quietly outside the door, and when the teacher came in she was crying. She told us we were all to go home, and then said a very odd thing. She said the president of the United States had been shot, and she didn’t know if he was even alive.
Somehow, it was arranged, that I was already home. I had the dreads, that I always felt when something momentous, and not entertaining, was on TV. I had felt the same way when I had wandered in, to where my parents were watching late TV news. They did not look up. The newscaster said that Martians had just landed in Washington, and there was live coverage, where the army was standing by, and the spaceship was about to open. I was terrified.
That had only been a movie. This was real, I knew. While I was watching, the man Lee Oswald, who had had something to do with John Kennedy’s murder, was shot and killed. To me it was like watching a frightening police show, but not as exciting. Very dreadful, and not at all fun.
Another segue happened. I was watching an old black and white television which belonged to my other grandmother, who had a room built on to the back of our house. Grandma didn’t like black people. Every time a black person came on the television, she would always say the same tired old stuff. We knew she couldn’t help it, that she was just old. This time, though, she was watching, and so were my parents. They shushed us kids, because they wanted to hear. Martin Luther King was talking to a lot of people in Washington D.C. He kept talking about dreams.
As he was doing so, my father closed the front door behind him, as he arrived home from a hard day’s work at the University. He put down his briefcase and gave my mother a kiss. He said he had had bad news, a letter from Paul, one of his star students, who had been over at our house carousing at parties. In addition to his scholarship, Paul could sing and play the guitar.
Dad told mom that Paul had come down with an ailment called MS. He told her Paul was going blind. The dream then segued again, this time to a late evening, when both of my parents we taking turns reading out loud into a microphone. They were making tapes to send to Paul. They were special tapes, which included all the paragraphs, page numbers, everything on the page, of a book Paul was doing a dissertation on. It was strange, to hear all the commas and other punctuation, spoken aloud along with the words.
That was when Petey the dog barked and woke me up. It was about three A.M. After about a half hour of poking, my wife Suzanne carried him out to the living room and put him in his bed. He commenced his attention-getting cough. He sounds just like my mother. He was her dog, and we inherited him when she died.
He kept that up for about forty minutes, before I went and slammed the bedroom door. I did not sleep, though. I was thinking about slavery, and poverty. I have not known anything like black slavery, or the subsequent oppression. I have been poor, living from hand to mouth, and on the street. It was only much later in my life, when I was successful, married, lost my father, and had two children of my own, that I became a slave.
I had thought that I was safe from that, because I was a middle-class white male with a college degree, and lived in the ‘Free World’. I had not known that slavery comes in many forms, and can strike down anyone. It all depends on luck. If you happened to be in the wrong place when a white man was hunting in the African bush, or in recent years when a business man was recruiting Thai prostitutes, or when doctors were looking for drug trial participants, you too could join us.
Living in the ‘Third World’ has nothing to do with it. The colour of your skin has nothing to do with it. Medicine has nothing to do with it. Money and pride have something to do with it. Someone called it the Dark Side of Science. That, too, has to do with it. In this ‘Free World’, where people talk a good game about human rights, about democracy and freedom, we have encountered the medical-industrial complex. We are in the hold of a trans-Atlantic slaver, and some of us are sick and dying.
When I was younger, people like Pierre Trudeau and David Lewis talked about Universality. They spoke as if it were something like skin, which you got just for being born human. They talked as if, at least us Canadians, already had it. I certainly had had my share of its benefits, what with hospitalization, elections, unemployment insurance and so on.
Later on, when I joined the CCSVI/MS slave community, I had no idea that these were just fancy words, and that not even written laws could give them life. It turned out they depend, like a lot of other things we take for granted, on social convention, habitual practice, and consensus.
The result you all know only too well, especially if you are a Canadian with CCSVI. You have had the misfortune to arrive on the wrong side of history, in a world where neurologists rule, and science, evidence, and experience take a ride with you at the back of the bus. You are no more powerful than a leper in New Brunswick in the nineteenth century.
What can be done? Maybe nothing. Maybe people will continue to prescribe and to insist you pay them for the Tysabris and the Galenas, Rebifs, Avonex’s, etc. Maybe you will continue to suffer and die, like my dad’s student Paul, and like Bill Peart, and like 400 other Canadians every year, this year included.
I have a dream: that all people who have been diagnosed with various types of MS from all the Canadian provinces and all the Canadian territories, can get tested for CCSVI.
I have a dream: that all the Canadians who want the venoplasty procedure for CCSVI can get it, with the same assistance from the various health care insurance providers as if they had had a car accident.
I have a dream: that all the people who have been diagnosed with various types of MS from everywhere in every State of the United States of America, and every State in the World can get it, with the same ease that a Canadian can get a flu shot.
I have a dream: that brethren, fellow CCSVI sufferers, their families, friends and caregivers, from that land to the south of us, that beacon of Freedom and Hope, the United States of America, will rise up and join their fellow sufferers on Parliament Hill in Canada, on the fifth day of May in the year of our Lord two thousand and eleven, calling, crying for the decent care a fellow human being should be able to get, in her or his own town, referred by her or his own family doctor, including the angioplasty procedure for CCSVI.
Let liberation ring.
"Try - Just A Little Bit Harder" - Janis Joplin
CCSVI procedure Albany Aug 2010
'MS' is over - if you want it
Patients sans/without patience
I am not a doctor. Do not take anything I say as medical advice.