Mandy and I were sitting in front of our TV tonight watching the Beijing Olympics. We watched in utter amazement as young men and women, with seemingly little effort, lifted themselves off the ground and up into the air where they became whirling human tops. The only thing on the screen still stationary was the gymnastic equipment upon which those kids performed.
Still watching, I said to my wife, “You know, I wonder what it must feel like to be inside a body that’s in such incredible shape.” A second or two went by with no answer. Quizzically, I looked to my right. Mandy was looking back at me. She wore a pensive look when she responded. “I know,” she said. “I was actually wondering the same thing. I can’t even arch my back the way those girls do.” I felt the Beast settle back on the couch between us. It was smiling.
That got me thinking. For me, my musing about being in an top athlete’s body was a pleasant fantasy. I know without a doubt that I’m in pretty good health and that if I really wanted to pursue such a goal it wouldn’t be impossible for me to succeed. Of course, I can pretty much guarantee you that it wouldn’t be very probable either. I love good food and good wine a bit too much, although I’m sure that my age, a lifetime of overall wear and tear might also have something to say about it.
But the point here is that if I really wanted to do it, I could.
For Mandy-- and for those who we, as caregivers, strive to help, the reality of everyday life is much different. What is but a fantasy for me is, for most of them, more an impossible dream. Multiple Sclerosis, the Beast, has had its way with their autoimmune system and with their nerves. How many times have you heard or read about someone who, despite their MS, continued to pursue their livelihood or career until, eventually, the burden became too much and they had to stop. Phrases that begin with “I used to be-- “ are heard much too often in our world.
Eventually the Beast left the room and we continued to watch those amazing Olympians. They are so strong; seemingly invincible. We know better though, don’t we? We wonder, a bit sadly, how many will someday respond, when asked what they do, with “I used to be--."
Never take good health for granted. Enjoy it-- savor it-- and if one day someone close to you stumbles, don’t be afraid to reach over and lend a hand. Your turn may well be next.
Published On: August 18, 2008