We are fortunate to live in a place renowned for the quality of vegetable produce. Root vegetables, in particular, benefit from eons of layering of sand and seaweed along a coastal spit of land dubbed An Machaire (the Maharees). The potatoes set and dug from this tombolo are sought after by starred chefs and knowing home cooks alike.
There really is nothing quite like a Queen or Kerr’s Pink still damp, with sand clinging to their thin skin. From field to table, topped with nothing more than local butter and flaked sea salt, they are simple perfection.
I needed a few spuds for a dish I was making on a recent Sunday and realized that we had none in the larder. Our greengrocer, whose family happens to run one of the small farms on the Maharees and sells their wonderful produce, wasn’t open so I headed for the local grocery and got the best substitutes on the shelf.
They proved to be inferior substitutes, indeed.
When explaining their flavor (or lack of it) to our farmer afterward, I compared them to a bird of prey flying in for a kill.
Both a Presence and an Absence
If you’ve ever had the experience of having a hawk, owl, or other raptor fly by on its way to scoop up a shrew in a field or have been in the path of an osprey as it went in for a fish near the water’s surface, you’ll know what I mean. It’s like the bird’s feathers somehow absorb the sound around them, and they make none of their own.
Like big flakes of snow falling on a winter’s night, the sound of everything else becomes muffled and quiet. It’s an eerie few seconds before you realize what just happened.
Our potatoes were like that: They absorbed the flavors of the stew, held on to them, and gave nothing back.
And there I had it: another analogy of living with multiple sclerosis (MS). This time it was a way of describing the invisible symptoms we all live with.
Invisible, Yet the Effects Radiate Out and Beyond
The stuff others don’t see — fatigue, sleep issues, cramps, and pain — not only have their own effect on our bodies but also have the proclivity to absorb joy from other aspects of our life with MS.
Like the muffled sounds of the world as a Falconiform glides past, everyday tasks are absorbed by niggly symptoms that those outside the MS community might think minor or stand-alone.
If I’ve a bout of cog fog in the offing, I can feel everyday tasks slipping from my schedule like the sounds of songbirds and insects growing softer. In fact, now that I think of it, this analogy is getting better.
It might get extra quiet when the raptor flies by because other living beings are aware of the bird and keep silent to avoid being dinner.
Do our friends and colleagues stay silent and move away when MS comes swooping in as well? Do we give off some sort of vibe when we’re trying to cope with what they cannot see, so they just exit for a while, or forever?
Invisible, Yet So Keenly Felt
Like that potato that took and held joy from my pot full of vegetables, meat, and aromatic flavorings; like the hunting bird quiets the world around it and swiftly attacks; the invisible symptoms of multiple sclerosis are obvious to us for what they take, and conspicuous to a life with MS in how they are acutely experienced by us without being minutely observable to those around us.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.