Tuesday, June 3, 2008

'What I've Learned'

I'm a fan of Esquire's often-imitated "What I've Learned" department. One of the interviews that stuck in my mind was a conversation with magazine employee Glenn Fitzpatrick, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 2007.

It’s hard to describe ALS. If you read the clinical description of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, you’d think it’s the most horrible disease you can have. But living through it is different than that. Maybe it’s because I have always tried to look on the bright side of things. Maybe it’s because I can still get around somewhat. Maybe it’s the Zoloft. But I figure if you are going to die young, ALS at least affords you the opportunity to do some of the things you always wanted to do. And it gives your friends and the people who love you the opportunity to let you know how they feel while you can still interact with them.

The disease itself is almost surreal. Everything weakens so gradually that you almost get used to it. If I had woken up one day feeling like I feel now, I’d be freaking out. But it’s played out over time. Now I think, Well, I almost didn’t make it up that step. I guess I won’t be able to walk soon. It almost seems like the natural order of things.
This puts a lump in my throat. People can be so brave.

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