Monday, 1 April 2013

The Human Condition

It's April 1st today only ALS is no April Fool's joke. I wish beyond wishing and hope beyond hoping and pray beyond praying, yet each morning I wake up just a little bit worse. There is no funny punch line and the disease doesn't take time off for holiday weekends. Ask me how I know.

On the other hand, I am not the only one with challenges. There are two kinds of people; those who are facing immense personal challenges and those who have those challenges ahead of them. Challenge is a fact of life, just as are love, joy, happiness and excitement. My personal goal is to keep that in perspective.

Today I had breakfast at the Embassy Suites just south of LAX. Ricky was with me and we both enjoyed a hearty breakfast while planning our day. The hotel staff has gone out of their way to ensure I had what I needed and that I did not struggle with lineups or tables or carrying stuff. They were wonderful to me.

After breakfast I headed off to the Business Center, from whence I now type this missive. Along the way a woman asked if I would take a picture of her and another woman who I am pretty sure was her mother. "Sure", I said, "After all I am at the perfect height." From the seated position in the wheelchair you can take better pictures.

While focusing on the two woman, I noticed the older woman seemed slow and a bit off. Then I realized she was facing her own personal struggle. I am guessing it was a stroke. Now she, like me, was dependent on a child when she travelled. Now she, like me, had to be helped and guided and cared for. I watched them for a moment after taking the picture, watched the slow gait and the limited motion.

Given the vast panoply of human illness, ALS sucks. But other diseases and human conditions are no better. Imagine a person in the prime of life struck down by a stroke with irreversable damage. Imagine knowing that you would live for many years, perhaps decades, dependent on care and support, unable to live with any form of independance. That sucks too.

I know that people can recover from a stroke, or from cancer, or from lots of other things. I know they can live happy and fulfilled lives. I know that my condition will worsen and my disease cannot be cured. It doesn't mean I am the only one suffering.

It's part of the human condition.

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