Area resident doesn't let multiple sclerosis hold her back
One of the biggest adjustments for Aiken resident Erika Bolin was admitting to herself, “I can't do it all.”
2014 MS Walk for MS Awareness Month:
Saturday, March 29
Opens: 8:45 a.m. Walk starts: 9 a.m.
Open to the public, donations are welcomed
Odell Weeks Activity Center, 1700 Whiskey Road
Route Length: 1-3 mile options
For more information, email Lauren.Gilbertson@nmss.org.
For a world traveler, a red carpet interviewer and a film and television critic, those five words didn't mean much to Bolin until she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 11 years ago in 2003. A progressive and sometimes private chronic condition affecting the central nervous system, Bolin uses her condition not as a crutch, but a teachable moment for many.
“A lot of people get it confused with muscular dystrophy,” Bolin said. “MS means 'many scars,' and there are many scars on my brain inside my head. One of the famous things people say is, 'But you look so good.' It doesn't anger me because I put a lot of effort into looking good.”
There are very few things Bolin hasn't done, even with MS.
She started a website called “Blunt Review” where she illustrates the callous yet delectable aspect of Kevin Spacey's character in “House of Cards: Season Two.”
But the story of how “Blunt Review” came to be cannot be told without The Clash and comedian actor Jim Carrey.
“I went on tour with The Clash when I was a kid – 16 with a fake ID,” Bolin said. “I was hanging out with Joe Strummer and he said, 'What are you going to do with your life? You're kind of blunt, aren't ya? Follow your passion or it's all piss.'”
As not to offend people in Hollywood, Bolin created the assumed name of “Emily Blunt” before the well-known actress ever came along. Before blogs became the thing to do, Bolin would review films and shows, and that was when Jim Carrey came along.
“Jim Carrey discovered me,” Bolin said. “He was quoted in Elle Magazine as saying he loved my writing. He opened up my life.”
From there, Bolin's career took off. She would travel across the country, standing on red carpets from the SAG Awards, Indie Spirit Awards and Oscar's interviewing the stars. And then one day at a cheese festival in Los Angeles, Bolin crossed the street and her leg wouldn't work. Another day, she left the film “The Aviator” and her eye turned upside down. She was diagnosed with MS within a week.
“The ironic part of MS for me, is it actually forced me to slow down,” Bolin said. “I discovered Aiken, and I have a support system I never thought I would have. I have wonderful humans in my life.”
Bolin has what doctors call relapsing, remitting MS. That means the course of her disease is unknown. Bolin takes disease-modifying drugs to slow down the progression, and combines those drugs with a healthy diet and continued positive energy.
“It sounds selfish, but I try to concentrate on respecting my body,” Bolin said. “I go out, but not a lot. My abilities have been downsized. But in saying that, I have a great support system and great friends.”
March is MS Awareness Month, and now Bolin serves as an MS ambassador for The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.
The title, according to Bolin, gives her the right to talk and speak on a subject that so many are sometimes frightened to talk openly about.
Bolin occasionally even has to tell herself she's OK, and she's not going to die anytime soon.
“Death is a big thing,” Bolin said. “Every day you thank God and say, 'I'm awake, I'm OK.' So I can't play tennis, but I can do dot, dot, dot.”
The elephant in the room for MS is that there is no cure. And with no cure, death caused by the disease is inevitable.
“It does scare me, but the ghost of Christmas future is different for everyone,” Bolin said. “The doctor has said, 'Erika, I don't know what you're doing, but keep doing it.' I don't exactly know my future, but I am prepared. I'm not as afraid as maybe I once was.”
Bolin has little to no regrets. Her condition has put her in a chair, but that doesn't necessarily mean she has to stop moving.
“I've done everything, and that's good because now I have all those great memories,” Bolin said. “I have always been the type of person to just do it. Now the only place I haven't been is New Zealand. But it's OK. I spent two hours on Google Earth and went. So I'm fine.”
To read Bolin's film and TV reviews, visit www.bluntreview.com.
For more information about multiple sclerosis, visit www.msfocus.org.