Griffith Dixon is an outspoken, modern day young man with old school values. He describes MS as “not an easy ride”, but he speaks about the illness with knowledge and respect. It quickly becomes clear who wears the pants here – and it’s not multiple sclerosis.
Griffith remembers the exact date of diagnosis: 09 July 2013. He was 27 years old at the time. After he left the consulting rooms in a daze he realised that he was given very little information about the illness and possible choice of treatments.
He didn’t know much about MS, but he seemed to have a vague recollection of an acquaintance who had it. According to his mom and dad there was no history of the illness in their families. He felt the need to gather information and for Griffith this is where he encountered an unexpected Achilles heel.
Being a typical Generation Y person (born between1981 – 2001 and having grown up with many world-changing events including the rise of mass communication, the Internet, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks) Griffin practices the perspectives this generation has become well known for: disagreements between conservative and progressive standpoints. This was going to be an interview with a difference.
So here is this young man calmly talking to me about MS and in a matter of fact way telling me that he is way too busy at work producing corporate films to allow the illness to get in his way. So, when doing research about MS, he cannot allow the myriad of negative articles found in abundance on the internet to clutter his brain. He prefers to deal with science and proven facts.
We talked about the lack of support specifically for young people living with MS in South Africa. Griffith explained that there is a whole new generation of youngsters needing information and support which they get from those having lived with MS for most probably the majority of their lives. This older generation (of which I myself am a member) have learned to make the illness their own, MS has become their property – it’s a coping mechanism. But for a young person of 15, 24 or 28 years old, this can be a daunting outlook on their future. They need a more modern way of communication (maybe funky is the right word?) to build their own relationship with MS. It is a definite need in South Africa.
Griffith is not naïve, he is fully aware that MS could be the devil itself, but until such time, he will gain as much knowledge as he can to nurture the positive outlook he has on his life. It is his choice to manage each situation as it comes along, but in the meantime he is concentrating on living a healthy life with a balanced diet and adequate exercise.
The young man is a dedicated family man. He speaks fondly of his three sons and the ongoing support from his wife, parents and siblings. “The thought of me losing my family, or my family losing me has never crossed my mind” – it is clear that he has genuinely never considered this, until today when prodded about the worst scenario. Together they will face the challenges MS might present – it can be done.
Griffith Dixon is a modern day classified generation Y with old school values, it seems he has his p’s and q’s sorted to put his own copyright on multiple sclerosis.
Author: Madelein du Toit