Tuesday 3 December 2013

for each a road....

Sometimes it's the little things that stick with you.  I was reading an interview in the Guardian today with England's fullback, Mike Brown.  He's a player who's never really been my cup of tea.  I'm a Northampton man and my loyalties in the position are with Ben Foden.  Even so, his performances in the games against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand last month really stood out, and it's hard to argue with his inclusion in the side.  Anyway, there's a big interview with him and, because it's taken him a long time to break into the side, he has an interesting story to tell.  In the middle of that story, this paragraph jumped out at me:

"My dad has mild MS [multiple sclerosis] and so he struggles to get around. He can't walk much on long days – he has to be pushed around in a wheelchair. Gradually it gets worse but he's not got a severe kind of MS. It's still bad enough and it affects the way he moves around. It's not great to see.  He doesn't come to games much any more – especially when they're on TV. If he comes to a match someone has to push him around. That's usually my step-mum and it's hard for her pushing a bloke round all day. So he feels more comfortable and less of a burden at home. But he was lucky enough to get to the New Zealand game and the sponsors sorted him out for Argentina – so he had a bit of corporate stuff and nice disabled seats as well. That was great."

It's not just the fact that his dad has MS that caught my attention, it's the fact that Mike Brown is clearly acquainted enough with the condition to understand that, although his dad is in a wheelchair some of the time and struggles to get around, he has a mild form of the condition.  I don't think you would say that unless you had seen what the disease was really capable of.  I've been in those waiting rooms too.

It's all relative in this game.

For some reason, that's stayed with me all day.  Look, I know that I've been so lucky - lucky!! - with how lightly I have been affected by MS.  I have my problems, sure.... but they don't really amount to a whole hill of beans and I don't like to dwell on them.  This may be as bad as it gets for me, but I'm not an idiot and there is of course a possibility that this is just a stop along the way.  Well, there's nothing much that can be done about that and it's a waste of time speculating or worrying about something that I can't control at all.

That said, it's sobering to read about someone with "mild" MS who stays at home in his wheelchair rather than watch his son play rugby for England because he doesn't want to be a burden on anyone.  That's shitty.

OK.  I'm finished feeling sorry for myself now.  More or less.



  1. i read this post yesterday and have been thinking about it since then - perhaps his dad's reluctance to go anywhere where he could "be a bother" might be down to old attitudes to disability - the old 'individual' and 'social' models of disability thing again.

    i think society has got better (mostly) in adapting to people's additional needs - but if you'd grown up at a time when disabled people were seen as a hindrance and something to be ashamed of, it would be hard to shake that off.

    as i type this, I realise that the dad in question is probably only a few years older than me, when in my head i'm picturing my OWN father and his sepia-tinted childhood - but you get my point. and like you said, it's still shitty that he didn't feel able to see his son play for England.


  2. It's the "mild" bit that kills me, Steve. Not only does it, as I say above, show that Mike Brown himself is more than passingly aware of the condition, showing the impact it has on our families, but it also makes even absurdly-stoical me feel a bit blue.