Nancy Mairs suffers from MS (multiple sclerosis) from twenty-eight years old. She decided to write an essay on how her life goes on, and how she struggles against this disease in order to live a full life of a “normal” person. Mairs shows how she lives with her family, among friends; her interests, fears and anxieties. Still, she has positive attitude towards life. “[…] if I had to have MS, by God I was going to do it well. No tears, no recriminations, no faint-heartedness”, says Mairs (3). These “losses” strengthen her temper and teach her to be a strong person.
Mairs defines herself as “cripple” (and despises words like “handicapped” or “differently abled”, although she got used to them), because she still has a good sense of humor, and can quite laugh over herself. Nevertheless, she may seem harsh in explaining herself throughout the essay, just to show how strong and tough she is in relation to the MS. She does not care how people would take her appearance – Mairs is sufficiently a self-sufficient person. The writer uses examples from her personal experience to display her life, in spite of her disease, “I may find it easier than other cripples to amuse myself because I live propped by the acceptance and the assistance” (Mairs 3). Her family appreciates her for being a good person in the first place, and her children ignore her disability. At first, a suspicion creeped into Mair`s mind that everybody around her are just faking, and people are kind to her only because she is disabled, but then she understood that this does not matter, and the only thing which counts is the possibility to remain herself. Mairs is ready to accept new opportunities in life, she is self-developing (she reads, does her favorite work – writes essays, teaches pupils, etc.), while being a considerate mother and wife. Although, she is overcoming her depressive mood, connected with the thought that “one never finishes adjusting to MS” (Mairs 5), and overcoming the fatigue, the writer does not blame God for being different from other people. “Why not?” she asks herself, and states that she would not put anyone in her place; she understands that she was chosen to bear this burden of disease.
Mairs attracts attention of the readers to the problem of being a “cripple”, apart from describing her everyday life. The writer claims, “I may be frustrated, maddened, depressed by the incurability of my disease, but I am not diminished by it” (Mairs 5). The society thinks that the handicapped should be confined to life in bed, but Mairs destroys this stereotype by being a person, different from others, and gets the true value of life. The author admits not to be sorry for being a cripple and would like to get more of it (Mairs 5). This effort deserves praise and respect.
“[…] a disease is not – at least not single-handedly – going to determine who I am”, says Mairs (5). She also states that “one may be very much alive for a very long time in a life that isn't worth living” (Mairs 5). This affirmation is effective in understanding her attitude towards her present situation and it is the main message of the essay. Her statements seem convincing, because there is no such thing in the world, like sincere love for life, and no better knowing, than understanding of being a person with rich inner world, no matter which disabilities one may possess. Even if the doctors cannot help Mairs, and many of her acquaintances (cripples, too) are depressed, she keeps on living a life that is more vivid, than that of many healthy people, and that is very inspiring.