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MS and a Movie

MS and a Movie

I love movies. I love how they can be used to tell so many different types of stories and evoke so many different kinds of emotions, not only by how they are written but by how they are shot (angles, lighting, motion, etc), what kinds of sounds are used, the music, and so on. There are just so many pieces that have to go together to make a great film! A director has to look at all of those pieces and decide what the best way to put them together is in order to make the audience feel the way he/she wants them to feel. But when a director is making a movie and thinking about their audience, they are usually thinking about how the average individual will react to their film, not how the small percentage of viewers with (let’s say) Multiple Sclerosis (MS) will react.

Growing up wanting to make films

Growing up I was fascinated by the idea of making films. It seemed like my friends and I were always trying to make something worth watching with whatever camcorder we had access to. I would always do my best to watch any “behind the scenes” documentary that was airing about popular movies (be them action, horror, drama, or comedy), and of course, try to re-create what I had learned. In high school, I was determined to pursue a career in the movie industry, whether as a special effects make-up artist (the people who sculpt monsters and make latex prosthetics for actors) or as a writer/director. I was pretty passionate about it, but my life slowly moved in a different direction and eventually I gave up on that idea, especially after being diagnosed with MS at the age of 20 when I shifted my focus to writing. But I never lost my love for cinema and still enjoyed going to the movie theatre to see the latest releases. It was still such an experience, such an escape from reality; a way to momentarily leave the world I live in behind while slipping into a world that doesn’t exist, where the impossible is in fact possible.

The growing intensity of my symptoms changed that

But about 5 years into my life with MS that started to change. Because of the growing intensity of my symptoms like myoclonus, my poor vision, my shortened attention span, and even my balance (to name a few), I started to enjoy the experience of going out to see a movie less and less. For example, one of my favorite movie genres, when I was in high school, was horror but that was the first thing I crossed off my list of “things I want to watch,” because horror movies almost always contain sudden loud sounds in order to scare the audience. While there was a time where I would never even flinch while everyone else jumped and gasped, I now experience what feels like my diaphragm collapsing in on itself when I get a simple text alert on my phone! So the high pitched shrieking sounds in most horror films are now painfully unpleasant and my uncontrollably intense reactions to them leave me somewhere between extremely annoyed and angry which tends to distract me from the movie.

Feeling extremely disoriented

On top of that, staring at such a large screen full of so much motion messes with my vestibular system, leaving me feeling dizzy and sometimes a little sick, like I had been spinning in circles for an hour and suddenly stopped to try to walk in a straight line. Between that and the low light of a theatre, I have a hard time not bumping into the walls or falling on my face when leaving because even after I have left the dark theatre and entered the bright lobby, I feel extremely disoriented. For example, after the last movie I saw just a few weeks ago, I was entering the bathroom of the lobby and while trying to turn around to hold the door for someone walking in behind me, everything started spinning and I fell into the wall but before sliding to the floor I was able to catch myself on the trashcan. Awesome, he must have thought I was drunk!

Holding tightly to the railing

Whatever… but oh yeah, back to the actual theatre; walking down the steps in the dark after the credits have played is somewhat terrifying because I feel like I am trying to walk down a flight of narrow stairs with my eyes closed and the only thing I have to hold on to (so I don’t trip and fall) is a metal railing that who knows how many people have touched since the last time it was cleaned. In case you weren’t already assuming, I (like so many other people with MS) am immunocompromised, so I usually do everything I can to avoid germs! But there is not too much I can do about that in this situation other than carrying a bunch of hand sanitizer with me and apply it every time I touch something.

Making the sacrifice to see a good movie

So even though the experience of going to see a movie at the theatre is somewhat unpleasant now and usually results in me feeling utterly exhausted, I still try to just suck it up and go every now and then. Usually it’s because someone invites me to go with them, but sometimes it’s because a movie I have just been waiting forever to be released and I am dying to see has finally hit the box office. I mean, there are just some movies that have to be seen in a theatre, right?

How going to the movies has changed

Movies that are worth all the undesirable experiences I now associate with a movie theatre thanks to MS. Or is it just me? Am I the only one who will opt to see a movie while it’s in theaters instead of waiting for it to be released on DVD/Blu-ray because I feel this way about certain films? I can’t imagine I am, so share in the comments below how the experience of going to the movies has changed for you since being diagnosed with MS and what you have found to help you deal with any of the ill effects going to the movies may cause you, because in just a couple of weeks I’ll be off to see a movie that I have been waiting and waiting for to come out! Nothing will stop me from going to see this one, not even MS!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • helen2164
    1 year ago

    Ok,y’all just changed my day a tiny bit. I have never been a lover of movies. It’s a paid nap for me and always has been. As we know mothers day is upon us and my son decided that it is time to meet his new boyfriend…..BY GOING TO THE MOVIES WITH HIS MOM AS WELL! All i can think is 3D is pointless due to the optic-neuritis so I’ll only see blur until the popcorn runs out then i hope everyone in the place enjoys my lack of shame about snoring ( sorry the dog was done helping me type and posted! lol ) because y’all know I’m going to need a nap round about 3! HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!!

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    haha an odd place to meet someone since you don’t look at each other or talk and it seems especially odd because I imagine your son knows you will probably be asleep? Haha hopefully they have comfy chairs, the one theatre I used to go to had the reclining ones with footrests and everything!

  • helen2164
    1 year ago

    Ok,y’all just changed my day a tiny bit. I have never been a lover of movies. It’s a paid nap for me and always has been. As we know mothers day is upon us and my son decided that it is time to meet his new boyfriend…..

  • reg2putt
    1 year ago

    I simply can’t imagine putting myself through all of that to watch a movie. So many films today are streaming on my TV set and available on DVD that watching a movie anywhere but from my home is out of the question.

    A movie theater is the last place I’d want to be on my mobility scooter. You never know when you’re going to be faced with wide stairs and either walking into the theater or in the aisles.

    There are always a couple seat spaces at the front reserved for mobility scooters or wheelchairs. Gone are the days you could pick a seat at a comfortable distance from the screen.

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    Yeah, most the time I would rather watch a movie at home since everything stream but there are always those that (to me) just HAVE to be seen on the big screen, most the experience sucks now but I guess there is still that love for the theatre somewhere deep down inside of me

  • Debrahoff2
    1 year ago

    Matt, thanks for a detailed description of exactly what I just started going through when I go to the movies! I was wondering since leaving during Black Panther, if anyone with MS had the same overwhelming rollercoaster ride during a movie. In a strange way, I was lucky that I could leave early because it wasn’t a good choice for my 7 year old daughter! Luckily my son was able to stay and enjoy. I never thought that my problems in the theatre was MS related but I am learning more and more every day, as I have had this unpredictable disease for over 10 years. I take out my hand sanitizer too, at least twice! LOL. While it’s not funny, I try to find humor in it. My kids love the movies!!! So until it’s unbearable, I will continue to go and experience the movies in a much more “intense” and drunk manner than a person without MS. Needless to say I have given up the carnival rides!

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    Haha it’s funny because Black Panther MAY have been the movie I saw when describing this experience in this post and Infinity War MAY be the movie I am referring to when I saw that some movies just have to be seen in theatre so I’m just going to have to suck it up and endure!

  • Jesusfish5
    1 year ago

    I still try, like you, to go to the movies when it’s one that must be seen in the theatre, as you said. It is grueling work just getting ready! The shower requires a full nap.
    My sons took me to the movies at least once a month since they got jobs… now, we try for my Birthday, Mother’s Day, and any holiday that I’m feeling well enough on. And when there’s a movie I MUST see, I get everything ready and organized days before. I sleep the day away til one or both pick me up.
    I take Meclazine an hour before which helps with the dizziness.
    I am in a wheelchair which also helps, sadly! Most theaters have a space for wheelchairs, and my theater is great.
    The seating is in the back which helps with the bigness of the screen. I also have hearing difficulties, but loud noises DO upset me terribly! Even the lawnmowers, the worst is thunderstorms!! The boom physically hurts while I feel like the lightning is conjoined to all of my nerve endings. When I know there will be noise – I wear earplugs and adjust them so I can hear well enough but the big noise is a little muted.
    I’m in hope of someday having headphones we can wear and be able to tune in to a movie like we can a movie on our phone or laptop. When that happens, we’ll be able to adjust the volume to our liking. Here’s to the future.
    My biggest problem is cognition. I have trouble remembering the movie days after seeing it. I recall parts, but not enough to be a critical analyst which IS my passion. This is where HBO and the others are handy…once I’ve seen a movie 10 times then I pretty much know it by heart and won’t forget it. Drives my poor husband crazy, but he understands + I never complain when he watches football 4+ days a week, baseball, golf, ESPN… it’s a good compromise .
    “See you at the movies.”

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    I feel like every time I decide to see a movie in the theatre I have to stand in front of a mirror and give myself a pep talk in preparation! And thunder, in an unrelated matter, when searching for something to listen to while trying to fall asleep, I thought rainforest sounds with light rain and thunder in the background would be a good idea but nope, the thunder was HORRIBLE!

  • Azjackie
    1 year ago

    I miss going to the movies. My Mom and I used to enjoy them. Year 5 after my diagnosis it became more difficult for me too.

    Problems I have is the entrance is on the back of the building. The developer tried to make an entertainment strip mall. A long trip from the parking lot to the main entrance. Gone are the days of being dropped off at the curb. Even the handicapped parking is a distance from the entrance on the side of the building with access onto the 1 ft curb at the corner of the building. Landscaping surrounds the building at the footing so “wall walking” is out.

    That leaves only scooter access. The entrance is pull door. They are heavier than a vault door. Good luck finding someone holding it open for you. People seem too excited to wait in the ticket taker line.

    The theatre is suffering financially according to newspaper articles so to conserve energy the inside only has every third row celung lights on.and the rooms for the showing are consistently dimmed. Lighting provided by previews.

    It is great inside. Well air conditioned. The seats are very comfortable. Reclining, you could sleep nicely. There are many bathrooms near the showing rooms. Very handy. Two types seating in each showroom. Ample floor seating and auditorium style in the other half, if you’te feeling good. The stairs to the auditorium style section are very well lit by ankle high lights.

    Sorry to give the architectural rundown but it is my difficulty. With all that being said I wait for the DVD or edited for TV and try to enjoy from home.

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    Yeah most the time, for most movies, I just wait for DVD release OR sometimes, I’ll wait till I can rent it on Google Movies or whatever it is called.

  • Musicang
    1 year ago

    I only go to the movies with someone. I use a crutch and always use it and the railing when entering and exiting. I have the same issues with feeling disoriented and my crutch makes me feel more secure. I used a cane first (a possible solution for you!) My mother, who also has MS, has broken both wrists and a shoulder from falls. I will use aids and deal with people giving me looks before enduring what she has from falls. Don’t worry about other people. Go to an earlier show to avoid big crowds, take a friend to hold the popcorn, and have fun!

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    I guess I should have mentioned, I do all that haha, I wouldn’t dare go to a theatre without my cane and I can’t drive anymore so I only go to the theatre when I am with someone

  • Jesusfish5
    1 year ago

    Good answer! Thank you!

  • stargazer0406
    1 year ago

    Thanx for this article! I’ve also had to limit going to the movies to those movies that absolutely must be seen in the theatre. Navigating the stairs & having impatient people behind you – so now I wait for the theatre to clear b4 leaving. The intensity of the big screen jars my nerves & can leave me feeling overwhelmed. I hadn’t really thought about this being due to MS but now it makes sense.

  • 1h0s12j
    1 year ago

    My fiance takes me to the movies when he is off during the week and helps me navigate everything. He is a blessing. But yes i do have issues. I cant do 3D at all. Star Wars and the Avengers are the only ones i leave the house for.

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    I don’t know why but even when I was a kid I just could never “see” the 3D stuff, I put the glasses on and everything looks weird, not 3 dimensional, weird, like split images? Anyway, yeah, Star Wars and Avengers, I missed the last Star Wars in theatre but I have been counting down the days for Avengers haha

  • lcz
    1 year ago

    So many issues for you sounds horrible!!
    I sit in the back and on the end incase i need a trip yo the ladies room.
    Sometime i ask for help carrying my drink and popcorn.
    My main problem is understanding everything that is said on screan due to speed of speach or actors lack of clarity. I would like closed caption so I can read what I am hearing just in case. That is what i have in my home Tv and i love it!! SEE YOU AT THE MOVIES!!!!

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    I sit at the edge too, forget trying to climb past people if I DO have to use the restroom! Gone are the days of me getting my dead center seat.

  • cherokeegirl
    1 year ago

    If there is an AMC theater near you, they have assistance devices. The cc one sits in your cup holder and projects the words onto theater screen. Only you can see the words. Also some have dedicated days where a movie is shown in cc, usually on Sundays. They have headphones for hard of hearing and blind people.

  • Jesusfish5
    1 year ago

    Yay!

  • Niko
    1 year ago

    I do love movies. You are quite right that some movies deserves to be seen on the very large screen for the first time — science fiction films and Godzilla.
    I try to see films early in the day (cheaper and less crowded) if at all possible. My fatigue worsens as the day goes on. I go to the bathroom before movie and just hope I don’t have to get up during the film. When carrying popcorn and a drink to my seat — I go rather slowly for balance issues. I’m sure there are other things that I’m forgetting but that’s the gist of it.

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    I try to go early as well, I just don’t have the energy to stay out “late”. I don’t get a drink at the theatre anymore, instead, I go to the bathroom before and pop a Vesicare before sitting down. Whatever it takes to not have to get up in the middle of a film.

  • Polifax
    1 year ago

    Matt, you are leaving me in suspense. What movie is it?
    Seriously though. Absolutely there are some worth seeing in the theatre. Like Lord of the Rings. Avatar. king Kong. Probably any Star wars except I’m like 4 films behind. Unless you have a super large tv and sound system. But about how the MS affects me fog to the movies. First I just didn’t like going out anymore. Going out flat out makes me feel bad about myself. I know that’s a downer but there it is. I’ve been dealing with a broken foot and torn tendon for almost 18 months now and have gained about 50 pounds. luckily however we have a new theatre about 4 miles away with $5 Tuesdays. When I do get there my problem is the bladder. Either I have to go or I’m thinking that I’m going to have to go. Then there are the times I go and cant go if you catch my meaning. Secondly to that I just have to shift around a lot as the spasisticy in my legs and back make finding a comfortable position rougher. Lastly there are some visual issues like I avoid 3d. My pupils are slow to react as and my depth perception also. I do like to watch at home with the bathroom pause button.

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    AVENGERS INFINITY WAR – but yeah I can’t even seem to see 3d so forget that. And as far as the bathroom bit, I just try to not drink anything for a few hours before and if I have it take something like Vesicare to help the urgency thing. I don’t like all the distractions in a theatre, I like my noise-canceling headphones at home, they eliminate almost all other stimuli but as I said, some movies just have to be seen on the big screen and are worth all the crap involved in going out.

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