“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”
I would like to thank my friend Kevin for sharing the above quote with me when he visited this weekend. Please say a prayer for him, as he has a very serious surgery this week. It was another active weekend with several friends, new and old. It’s always great to receive a message from someone from my past. It is especially nice when I have the chance to visit with him/her. That was the case this weekend when Steve visited me. Steve was the manager who hired me out of Lehigh for my first job. He was the one who gave me the first chance and helped jumpstart my career. However, even when I worked for him, he was always more of a friend to talk sports with, rather than work. We picked up where we left off when I saw him this past weekend. The only difference this time was that we mixed in some politics.
Steve and I spent a lot of time talking about my injury and all the research being done in the field of science and medicine these days. While I still hope and believe I will regain function and motor skills, it is hard not to get excited about all the research being done. Before my SCI I was on the fence when it came to embryonic stem cell use; I tried to balance my religious convictions with my desire to see sick people helped. Since my injury I have read a lot about stem cells and other new techniques being developed. As I have educated myself, my position has changed to where I fully support stem cell use. In most cases adult stem cells are used and often they are your own cells that are introduced into a different part of your body. I realize for some this is still a very touchy subject, but I would encourage everyone to really educate themselves on the topic before forming an opinion. The 2010 World Summit on Stem Cells is being held in Detroit this October. There is a link on the “Get Involved” section of my website regarding this event. I didn’t really plan on discussing this topic on this post but my mind jumped to it as I thought about some of the other visitors I had this weekend.
I have become friends with several SCI victims since my accident. As you can imagine I always enjoy these visits since we can all relate to the ups and downs we have all gone through and continue to face. Two of my friends, diagnosed with the exact same injury as each other, were here this past weekend. One is walking and living completely independent, able to do many of the same things he could before the accident. My other friend is in a wheelchair and can only move his arms with a little bit of finger movement. He is still able to drive and be on his own for most of the day but still requires some of the same care I do. These two guys are living proof of the adage doctors’ use when they tell you that no two SCI’s are the same. My friend who is walking was injured 7 years ago; my friend who sits in the chair was injured 17 years ago. And here I am who was injured 1 year ago and can only move my shoulders. Incomplete injuries, which both my friends are, have much better odds of recovery than complete injuries. However, while uncommon, it is possible for complete injuries to recover some function. All this brings me back to my comments regarding stem cells. Sometimes human will and nature’s law don’t always achieve the desired results. That is where science and medicine can offer tremendous assistance and freedom. Most of these scientists and doctors are of very strong faith; they believe in God and believe in the power of medicine. They are not in conflict. It is God who gives us the intelligence to discover these life saving techniques. It is man who ultimately decides how to apply them – for good or for bad. I do not want to obsess on this issue, but I hope I find a way to benefit from all the tools available today. Saint Padre Pio said “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry.” I have the first two down, it’s the third tenet I can’t master. However, I still find ways to enjoy and appreciate all the gifts in my life. I am blessed.
I saw a movie this past week that really drove this point home. I felt very fortunate to be alive and very lucky to have the function that I do have after watching it. It is called “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly”. It is the true story of the editor of ELLE magazine who developed a condition known as “Locked-in Syndrome” and was left completely paralyzed. He could not move anything his left eye and eyelid. No head movement, no face movement, no body movement, no feeling. He ended up writing a book by blinking his eye to correspond with letters in the alphabet. Truly amazing. As I watched this film, the first 15 minutes really hit home, as it reminded me of my situation and what I went through. The rest of the movie really made me appreciate what God gave me back. I highly recommend this film for those that still believe in the power of memory and imagination.
In closing, as I got up today and prepared to head outside I asked the nurse to put my headphones on my head and turn on my iPod. The first song that came on was “Hope” by Shaggy. I always loved the chorus but today it took on a different meaning.
She said, “Son there’ll be times when the tides are high
And the boat may be rocky, you can cry
Just never give up
You can never give up,” uh-uh
In this life you could lead if you only believe
And in order to achieve what you need
You can never give up
You can never give up
And this hope
That keep me holding on
On and on
And this hope
That makes me carry on
On and on
As always, thank you for your prayers and support. Hope to see you this Thursday at “Around The Corner” in Lakewood!