Don’t Believe Everything You Read (Except This Column)

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by Carlos Briceño |

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One of the characteristics of a good journalist is being able to digest a lot of information, such as the entirety of a study, and then concisely present the most pertinent and interesting facts in a 700-word story.

I have written many of these articles in my career, and I like reading them because I save time by not having to read the entire study.

I recently read a report by Huntington’s Disease News’ Marta Figueiredo on the global Enroll-HD observational study, which concluded that women with Huntington’s disease (HD) experience worse symptoms than men with the condition.

Hmm. The two people I love the most in the world — my wife and daughter — are women with HD.

My first reaction was to feel the same way I did on a ride at Six Flags called the Giant Drop. The sheer drop at 62 miles per hour made my stomach feel like it had been ripped out of my body. If you have ever experienced this sensation before, you realize that this is not a great feeling, especially as it takes several minutes to figure out how to locate and restore your stomach back to its normal position once the ride is over.

While pondering the study, I realized that I could absorb the information in one of several ways. A common way to acknowledge bad news, which I have already described, is to feel a little sick. Another way is to get depressed. A third way is to feel intense sadness.

However, as I have previously indicated in this space, I am a glass-half-full kind of guy. I have redirected my feelings by reminding myself of movies.

My wife and I are picky about the movies we see. A major reason is we have short attention spans. So, if the film is bad, we have been known to walk out. Life is too short to waste an hour and a half on poor acting or writing.

Another reason is movies are expensive. We would rather spend the money on good food than see a bad film. If we get suckered into seeing something that ends up being boring, eating buttered popcorn at the theater is not the same as having a fabulous meal.

And by “suckered,” I mean going to a movie that received glowing reviews, only to dislike it. One memorable example was “There Will Be Blood.” This has happened so many times over the years that Jill and I have made a pact: We don’t let reviews sway us.

We go to a movie because we want to, not because someone says it’s Oscar-worthy. More often than not, a motion picture that got lousy reviews ends up being something we like.

My point is that I respect a movie reviewer’s background. I have no doubt that most critics are highly qualified to review films. I also have no doubt that those who conducted the global study I cited earlier knew what they were doing, and that their findings are accurate.

But ultimately, what someone else finds to be true may not be the same truth that Jill and I experience. And so, heartened by that, I now view the study in the same way I think about movie reviewers: I won’t let it sway me to feel anxious about Jill’s future.

Here is the truth: Jill has HD. It’s a horrible illness to have. Will she end up experiencing worse symptoms than a man with HD? Maybe. Ultimately, what matters is not what a study might predict, but how we deal with it.

How we are dealing, and will continue to deal, is the equivalent to what happens when we go to the movie theater. We sit next to each other, holding hands. Yes, the theater gets dark, just like life does at times. But the lights always come on when the film ends, and in the case of my relationship with Jill, where there is love, there is always light.

No study will ever be able to measure the light and love we share, because they are infinite as pi.

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Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.