Nicoletta Mantovani quotes her husband, the late Luciano Pavarotti. This is what she says he said on learning that she had multiple sclerosis. (It sounds ungenerous to say "she says," but she is involved in a dispute over Pavarotti's will.)
What do you think about this notion of illness as part of one's character? Normally, we see illness as an alien invader to be fought off or, if that is not possible, endured. Before reading Mantovani's quote this morning, I'd been thinking of the idea of illness or disability as an integrated part of the afflicted person because I've been reading the new Oliver Sacks book "Musicophilia," which contains frequent observations of this kind, as do his earlier books "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat" and "An Anthropologist On Mars."
Sacks writes so beautifully and tells such interesting stories that it's hard to resist his point of view. He is thoroughly excited and fascinated by the brain abnormalities of the individuals he studies, and he expresses this emotion through the romanticization of disease and the perception of the disease as part of the integrated whole of the person. As I reader, I catch his excitement, but I worry sometimes that it's wrong to look at other people this way.
If you had a disease — or if you have a disease — would you want people to see the disease as part of your character, something that deepens you and makes you more fascinating?