I am beyond thrilled that the most popular soap opera on American television has decided to have a character develop an invisible disability. The Young and the Restless character Nikki Newman was recently diagnosed with MS. So far I believe the writers are doing a good job showing how a physically painful condition slowly starts changing what one can do. The pain in her hands has started to chip away the joy that playing her piano once brought her. Her falling ill the night before her wedding was another reality of living with a painful condition. There is nothing she could have done. Those of us living with chronic pain could totally relate. Our chances of knowing if we will be up to attending a function is as good as predicting the winning lottery numbers. I do not have MS, nor will I pretend to understand what the pain is like, however I would love to hear from people who do have MS and hear what you think of this character’s portrayal.
With that said, I would like to make a few suggestions to the writers. I understand that Nikki is extremely wealthy and that soaps are considered a break from reality, but when dealing with an illness, I think it would be better to have the character’s medical care be more realistic. Having Nikki’s doctor make house calls every time she feels dizzy is silly. I find it hard as someone who has to sit for hours in an ER or wait days to get an appointment to have sympathy for her. ER and Dr visits make our illnesses tougher. I would love to see Nikki crying while waiting in the hospital, while her pain continues to spike. Not because I don’t like Nikki, but because it would be real. Better yet, have Victor complain to Victoria about how his money couldn’t fast track Nikki into a room. It would be great to hear him grumble about the kids throwing up and the how the person sitting next to them was bleeding. A little reality goes along way, even in soap land. Unless Nikki faces some real aspects of dealing with the medical community my sympathy will continue to grow into resentment.
Along with this I would love to see her experience some of the frustrations of other chronic pain patients. One area is her weight. I know Nikki is not obese, but she does have meat on her. BTW I adore her portray-er and think she is beautiful inside and out, no matter what her weight is. I would love to see our blonde spit fire chuck a shoe at the first doctor who told her she would feel better if she lost weight.
How Nikki plans to handle her pain as it increases is yet to be seen. This should be interesting. Not because she is rich and can afford any drug she wants, unlike most pain patients who have to beg to receive a prescription to only achieve a smidgen of relief. No, Nikki has a different battle ahead of her. Nikki is an addict. What will she do when the pain becomes more than she can handle on her own. Addict or not, there is some physical pain that just can not be dealt with without medicinal intervention. Will her doctor feel comfortable helping a recovering addict find pain relief? Will she turn to alcohol or marijuana? Unfortunately with the character of Jack, Y&R has been portraying prescription pain medications as evil. His crack to Adam to go easy on the pain killers pissed me off. The truth is there is nothing wrong with them unless the person who takes them does so for the wrong reasons. It is not the pill’s fault, nor should the person who takes them daily for relief from chronic pain have to feel like they are begging for drugs just because someone like Jack abused them. So not only will it be interesting to see how Nikki chooses to find relief, but even more so will be how her family copes. Will Victoria be able to handle seeing her mother in pain? Victoria is an emotional mess and the pain has just begun. Will Victor freak out because he can’t buy Nikki a pain-free existence? Maybe he will sneak her pot brownies. Yes, that would be very naughty with her history, but just how much pain can one watch the love of their life suffer from? Lot’s of possibilities…..
This promises to be a great story, as long as Y&R keeps it real. I can get over the fact that she found a compassionate DR right away, but the home visits not so much.
Who else has suggestions for the writers at Y&R?
I must admit that I gave up on this soap opera not long after writing this. But I am still curious as to how Y&R is handling Niki’s MS. I have a few questions for those who are still watching.
1. Do you feel they are adequately portraying her illness?
2. What could they do better?
The Disabled Diva