Phyl Rubin, half the Boston furniture duo whose commercial ditty (it's sing-song-y and ends with "Bernie and Phyl: Quality, comfort, and price...that's nice") has a way of replaying itself in the minds of us who live in the Hub, went public earlier this week with the fact that she has MS. She's had it for forty years, as she told The Boston Globe's Jenn Abelson in the front-page story, "Bernie and Phyl share a long-kept secret."
Phyl decided to come clean to "speak out and to help end this horrible disease...I’m one of the lucky ones."
Along with many others with serious but for the moment manageable chronic illness, I understand her reluctance to speak about it. People -- you know, all those sentient beings you interact with on a daily basis -- have preconceived notions of illness and it's easy for them to begin to regard people as their disease, which is about as off-putting as it gets. But there's a risk. If "you don't wear your illness on your sleeve," as one friend put it to me, then you may present as healthier as you are. If you lead with your disease, then we're back to the second sentence in this paragraph. Or, if you manage it well, then you might run into the comment that made me want to slug someone: "Do you really have MS? I mean, do you actually have that diagnosis?" As if anyone would pretend.
I applaud Phyl for taking it public and for shining some light on what can be a dark corridor at times. I'm sorry to hear about the symptoms that she struggles with, or any symptoms that any of us struggle with...and I think her talking openly will pay benefits to others.
"Bernie and Phyl: rolling the honesty dice...that's nice."