60 minutes - Completed 2002
This often overlooked and misunderstood illness is in fact the most common serious neurological disease of young adults. Multiple Sclerosis is more prevalent amongst women, and more and more research has pointed to the strong hereditary nature of the illness. When the average person thinks about Multiple Sclerosis, they either think about Jerry's Kids or Annette Funicello. That is, if they have any association to the illness at all. MS has nothing to do with Muscular Dystrophy and only one third of those diagnosed require a wheelchair for mobility over time.
It is the other two thirds of the MS population that this documentary will focus upon. Those people who "look so well" to the outside world yet suffer from such invisible physical symptoms as numbness, tingling and pain in their limbs, fatigue, headaches, as well as vision and cognitive problems.
The psychological ramifications and challenges are immense. MS is an illness of loss. It is most often characterized by unanticipated periods of exacerbation/ attack and remission. Among other things, those diagnosed have to learn to live within a world of unknowns and unpredictable changes in functioning and self-definition throughout their lifetime. Peoples perceptions of them as looking well further adds to the emotional complexity of dealing with the illness.
Four diverse individuals living and striving to cope on a daily basis with this difficult illness were filmed in April-August of 2001 in the Detroit Metro area, with over forty hours of shot footage. Interviews/footage was also shot of family members and medical professionals.
The purpose is for viewers to come to an empathic understanding of the emotional, relational and concrete challenges facing people who "look so well" yet have a life altering diagnosis of MS. Also, the goal is to help people begin to confront their own fears about the illness and towards human vulnerability in general.
The video is co-produced, co-directed and co-edited by Audrey Geyer and Kevin Lindenmuth.
This documentary will be broadcast Nationally on PBS, through NETA,
starting in late February 2003. Please contact your local PBS station to
find out if it is available in your area.
Copyright © 2003, Audrey Geyer