Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Bad Back... and ALS

OUCH! I put my back out this morning. Three huge spasms within the space of ten minutes, and for no apparent reason. No sudden twists or turns. The first happened in the kitchen as I was making our morning cup of tea: I turned--quite slowly and without any unusual twist--from the counter to the sink, and then it hit. I screeched--loudly enough, I later learned, to awaken Ellie in the bedroom downstairs. The two aftershocks came within minutes, less powerful but painful nonetheless. I'm lying in bed now with my laptop, trying not to feel sorry for myself.

Nor should I. Having intended to get to bed early yesterday after a late night at the seder the night before, I made the mistake of tuning in to the first few minutes of Frontline's airing of So Much, So Fast and got hooked on the story of Stephen Heywood who suffered from ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. And watched to the end.

What an incredible man... and what a marvelous family! Stephen's fight, after his diagnosis, against this terrible, debilitating affliction and his remarkable ability to maintain his will to live and his good cheer in the direst of circumstances were truly inspirational. His wife, who went along with his desire to have a child in the full knowledge that his chances for survival were virtually non-existent, seemed to share his persistent good humor and his determination, and we watched their child grow from crib to toddlerhood with much more delighted empathy than pity. His siblings, most prominently James, his older brother, rallied to his support and brought all their skills and resources to the formation of a foundation for the search for a cure for ALS.

It was painful enough to watch the slow, inexorable deterioration of this extraordinary man's body, while his mind remained alert and his appetite for life as keen as ever. It was a dreadful irony to learn that two years after the end of the filming of this extraordinary documentary he had finally succumbed--not to the disease itself, but to the accidental disconection of his oxygen supply during the night, while he was sleeping.

Stephen's patient, unselfpitying tolerance of years of relentless bodily decay sure puts my little bad back in perspective. How could I feel sorry for myself with this man in mind? I have learned from past experience that gentle exercise is a much faster route to recovery than immobility, so I plan to be up shortly and to take a walk around our hill--and to remind myself to keep moving through the day rather than get trapped into sitting for hours in front of my computer. Meantime, my thanks to Stephen and his family for the example of their courage and their loving devotion to each other.

3 comments:

carly said...

One fun blog, astrology, by British Leigh Oswald, is usually thoughtful:

Neptune is about concealed mysteries, blurring of boundaries, illusion, disguise, invisibility -- camouflage, no less. The art of illusion and delusion is a major factor in life, especially in politics and war, and now more than ever awareness of this phenomenon has created an increasingly more cynical public.   

Saturn opposing Neptune over the last few months is ensuring that wakeup call.

We are bombarded with contradictory stances from the same source. The British government insists on the right to upgrade its Trident nuclear weapons system, while insisting that other nations dismantle their nuclear capacity. We may call these nations rogue states, but perchance they see our military interventions as rogue.

We assume we have the monopoly on virtue, and have the right to export this virtue, globally. Is this an egotistical, ethnocentric illusion?  

This is a momentous philosophical question for our times.

The conflict between church and state is also on the boil, and the attempt in recent years by Christian fundamentalists, notably in the US, to hijack politics is one that looks as if it is on the decline in influence. Saturn is drawing its line in the sand in relation to the free hand of fundamentalism of any form in its most irrational form, whether Christian or Muslim.

Recently a book by Sam Harris called Letter to the Christian Nation has been a best-seller in the U.S. It reveals objectionable Biblical passages that undermine our modern understanding of Christian values, including one from Exodus discussing the demands one should make when selling daughters into slavery and another from Deuteronomy that calls on Christians to stone to death any who try to influence them away from God.

Harris' blatant undermining of much of the Bible and his exposé of its shortcomings has proved itself by becoming so popular as to be symbolic of a growing new mood in the U.S.

carly said...

and this:

Venus in Taurus until the 13th focuses on tactile 3D and installation work; it also brings a powerful implicit focus on the creative inspiration derived from the simple intrinsic beauty of the natural world. Venus rules Taurus, but the face of Venus for this sign, is linked to instinctive attunement to natural beauty, as opposed to the intellectualization of esthetics.

The Sun follows Venus, moving into Taurus on the 20th, continuing the focus on the natural beauties of the physical earth. Redolent of these positions is the current exhibition of Renoir landscapes at the National Gallery, London. (Interestingly, the show comes to a close just as the sun leaves Taurus for Gemini.) This is an exhibition that celebrates the subtle nuances of plays of light and shade, qualities of the natural world that need time and attunement to nature to notice. A very Taurean quality. This exhibition, of course, anticipates full-blown Impressionism.

It is no coincidence that heavily Taurus-influenced people have a particular love of the beauties of the natural world and often have a "green thumb" talent in gardening. They are also great walkers in the country, and champions of animals

PK said...

I've watched "Brian's Song" a few times, with a total inability not to cry. Unless I'm feeling up to the tears, I don't watch it anymore... Bad back huh? Well, if you lay on the floor and put your legs up onto the couch, or a kitchen chair, you will put your back in traction. Stay that way for awhile, then gently roll to one side and get up. It should work, otherwise call the chiropractor. I love them:). Have a pleasant afternoon/eve Peter:).