Thursday, 14 October 2010

The 33

Like many people around the world I have been fascinated by the story of the 33 men trapped underground in a mine in Chile and their eventual rescue after 69 days. I will admit to watching as each were lifted out using that scary looking but very effective cage they called the Phoenix. As did many others, I cheered as the last miner, Luis Urzua, appeared.

 I also applauded as the last of the rescuers who had gone down to help them, Manuel Gonzalez, turned to the web cam in the underground chamber, bowed and waved in triumph before making his own way to the surface, some two and a half hours later.

Remarkable men all of them.

Much was made of how their survival for such a long time, including the 17 days before any contact with the outside world was made, was down to the way that they were organised into working for their own escape, preparing for the day that some rescue would come.

Their situation also made me think about MS. We too live with uncertainty, as did the men below ground. But doing something that gives us back some sense of control of our own fate, whether it be diet, exercise, CCSVI treatment, disease modifying drugs, or one of the many 'alternative' therapies, helps us prepare for the day when our cure will come, and to survive the interim.

Meanwhile our rescuers are working to come up with a solution. Just as at the mine, where there were three separate plans underway to get them out, there are several avenues being investigated. Just because Plan B was the one that got the miners out, does not mean that the workers on the other two should not be thanked for the effort they put in. So we have researchers looking at different ways to liberate us from the tyranny of MS. At this stage, we do not know for certain which route will turn out the best.

We live in interesting times.

Let us spare a thought for the thousands who die in mining accidents. The Geneva based ICEM estimates 12000 per year, although the actual figure may be higher. As with MS, there are no reliable global statistics.

But this story at least had a happy ending. The sister-in-law of oldest miner Mario Gomez, Belgica Ramirez, told Agence France-Presse: "It's a new life about to begin."


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