Our interview with Diana Neutze is a little different than our past interviews. As Diana has gotten older, typing and communicating are getting a little more difficult for her. So for this interview she has graciously allowed me to use excerpts from her blog posts. You can find links to her blog and poetry page below.
Question 1: Hi Diana, thanks so much for sharing your time with us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers who may not be familiar with you. You may also use this opportunity to tell us where we can find you on the web as well as any projects you are working on.
Answer: Diana Neutze lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She is an extraordinary woman who has lived the past 40+ years (about two-thirds of her life) with multiple sclerosis. On her poetry website – My Living and Dying (clicking link will open a new window) – she sums up her life like this:
"I'm Diana Neutze. Forty three years ago I was given the life sentence of multiple sclerosis. Living with multiple sclerosis is rather a challenge as I do not want my mind blobbed out with pain relief medication. So I have dealt with M.S. contemplatively; I am surrounded by trees and bird song so I spend my time looking, thinking, writing poetry, listening to music. It's a Zen Buddhist's life. "I pray the enduring years will polish my mind's bright mirror."
Her blog - Living with Multiple Sclerosis, is more like a journal where she shares with us her honest, direct, and straight forward views on everything that has to do with MS in her life.
Diana Neutze has also written several books, one As For Tomorrow I Cannot Say, we added to our book review page.
Question 2: I was delighted to find your poetry about MS and hope you can tell us a little about how words and writing have helped you deal with your multiple sclerosis?
Answer: "All I have left is words."
"As the years have passed and I have been constrained by the multiple sclerosis I have found creativity can also help against desolation and grief. The multiple sclerosis has stolen from me most of my ways of being creative: singing, dancing, playing the piano, cooking, gardening and stitching at my tapestry – but it has left me words.
All the energy of my days is now contained in language. I think passionately, feel ideas, breathe metaphoric connections. Creativity or Medication."
Question 3: Your diagnosis came many years ago. What type of MS do you have and what kinds of treatment have you taken and do you still take them?
Answer: "I am 70 and sitting here trying to think what are the most significant factors in keeping me and the multiple sclerosis free of pain killers and still living in my own home. In the mean time here are some of the possible explanations:
38 and a half years of yoga, apart from the obvious things like stretching, balance, circulation, flexibility of joints, have given me two ways of being that will have helped me deal with the pain.
1. If a body movement hurts while you are doing it but doesn't hurt afterwards you haven't done yourself any damage. So it's alright to push yourself in other words.
2. You take yourself to your limit of pain or stretching, take three deep breaths and try again. You invariably find that you can go further.
The years of yoga and meditation have taught me to stand aside from what my body or mind are doing. This has given me a more charged awareness of what is happening around me so, although I am house/and wheel chair/ bound, I am able to derive great joy in the little things of life. For example, just sitting under the walnut tree with the rabbit and both of us watching a light sprinkling of rain fall.
This passion has gone in three directions.
1. Words, literature, especially live theatre and writing.
2. Classical music, and although I can no longer play the piano or sing, I can at least listen.
3. A great love of the natural world, and especially the sky"
Question 4: Support is so important for people with MS. Do you agree and who are the people who make up your support team?
Answer: (I have) "a life rich in human contact.I either copied or inherited from my parent a capacity for deep and genuine friendship, some of which go back 50 or 60 years. I still have heaps of visitors who share their life stories with me. Now that I need carers, I have met a much wider range of people from different ages groups, nationalities and ways of life, so my head is layered with stories."
Want to read the rest of Diana Neutze's interview? Follow the link to Diana Neutze Part 2.