Multiple Sclerosis patriotism
With the exception of my late teen/early 20’s years, I have never been much of a rebel. I grew up with this intense need to please and so when someone tells me to do something, I do it.
I floss daily.
I get my car’s oil changed every 3500 miles.
I pay my taxes BEFORE April 15th.
I wait ten hours after eating before swimming.
About the only rebellious thing I do these days is consume raw cookie dough against the advice of both the raw dough packages and that of my older sister. But I try to do that in the privacy of my own home so as not to offend anyone and I do feel bad about it, kind of.
This sense of doing the right thing carries over into being a good citizen, even when MS makes me feel wiped out and yucky.
I suppose if I was really a great citizen I would have skipped my brief rebel years and joined the military. The only problem with that was the fact that I am total wimp and wouldn’t have lasted one day in boot camp. So hats off and deep, deep gratitude to those brave folks who defend our country!
The least I can do to be a good citizen is to vote. I understand how government works; I watched Schoolhouse Rock when I was kid.
(I’m still totally furious that Conjunction Junction beat out I’m Just a Bill for the number 1 spot in a recent special featuring all the episodes. I demand to know who voted for that!)
So on primary day I put on my goody two shoes and headed off to the polls. It didn’t matter that not many people bother to vote in the primaries. I was going to because it’s a privilege and it’s my patriotic responsibility to honor that privilege.
I even did research on who to vote for. And by research I mean I asked my very smart friends who have ideals similar to mine who they were voting for and then I voted for that person too.
(And I did watch a commercial or two- I try to take this voting thing seriously.)
Luckily, my town is small and since it was only a primary the polls weren’t too packed and I didn’t have to stand too long to cast my ballot. But my civic duty was not done for the week. The next day I had jury duty.
Honestly, I wouldn’t mind serving on a jury. I actually think it would be interesting. I just can’t imagine any lawyer would trust me on a jury with all of my cognitive issues and my extreme fatigue. But being the good citizen that I am, I would let the court make that decision. I was happy and honored to do what my government asked of me.
The problem was, this was a lousy week to have to serve. I had a lot going on and precious few non exhausted hours to do them in. Of course, I didn’t know this would be the case when I got my notice, the notice that gives you the option of postponing jury duty. Being on the road by 7:15 the morning of, standing in long lines to be processed, and waiting long hours in a hot stuffy courthouse was just not conducive to my life and my MS that week.
But it was what it was and I would just have to do my best. I took comfort in the fact that I had one of those ‘call the day before’ notices. Every time in the past when I received one of those, I never had to actually go in. I would call the automated line the day before and an automated voice would tell me I was excused. That’s what would happen with this jury service, it just had to.
When people who don’t have MS say they don’t understand ‘brain fog’ or ‘cognitive difficulties’ you are usually too fogged to explain it to them. So allow me to do it for you. The following is what brain fog looks like:
At 4PM on the day before my service I called the courthouse. The instructions were clear- do not call even one minute before 4. To be on the safe side, I waited until 4:02.
The automated voice thanked me for being a good citizen and calling. Then it informed me that all jurors with groups numbered 0- 58 had to report. I had been assigned group number 0060. I had to go.
I was distressed. I absolutely could not believe it. How on Earth would I get through this crazy week with jury duty smack dab in the middle of it?
I thought perhaps I made a mistake. I called again. And again, was thanked for my service and told that all jurors in group numbers 0-58 had to report. I was resigned to my patriotic fate. I would just have to suck it up.
I postponed that evening’s shot so I wouldn’t face the horribly achy side effects during jury duty.
I went to bed super early.
I set two alarms to get up on time.
I stopped on the way to get some much needed caffeine.
And I stood with my burning legs in the long check in line, chatting with other potential jurors.
When it was my turn to hand in my summons, the court officer pointed out that I hadn’t needed to report at all. WHAT??
Didn’t I call the automated number, he asked?
“I did. It said all jurors with group numbers 0-58 had to report. So at number 60 that means me, right?”
The frustrating thing about ‘cog fog’ is that once your brain makes a mistake, even a simple counting mistake, your brain then accepts that mistake as correct. So even though I have known how to count since first grade and I called TWICE, I still screwed up.
I’m such a dedicated citizen that I showed up for jury duty when I didn’t even need to.
The court officer told me that my service was completed and kindly sent me on my way, probably noting my name and number for next time to tell the judge “this chick is way too dumb to serve, she can’t even count to 60.”
The good news was that I got back the badly needed day in the middle of the week.
The bad news was that I was so frustrated by my mistake that I wasted a lot of that day stressing over it.
Before I knew it the night passed, and when I turned on Facebook the next morning I was reminded of the date.
It was 9/11, a date no American will ever forget.
The date got me emotional.
It got me sad.
And then, it got me proud. I started thinking about the amazing country I am lucky to live in.
I started humming Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Here’s another way brain fog works, your mind starts wandering down seemingly insignificant paths for seemingly no apparent reason.
I looked up Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Did you know that doodle was actually an insult? The phrase Doodle Dandy was meant to insult the earliest American patriots, doodle meaning dumb. But they chose to adopt the phrase instead.
And so it was with me-MS dumb or not, I’m happy to be an MS Doodle Dandy; an MS Doodle Dandy who’s ready for jury duty whether she’s wanted or not.
PS If you are humming Yankee Doodle right now than you are a true patriot for sure!