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Reality check

Friday, April 08, 2016

I had such a sad but inspiring chat with a work colleague yesterday. He's a smart, kind, good man who I've been working with on a project, on and off, for a few years. He confided in me that he'd been diagnosed several years ago with a slowly degenerative brain condition. There's no cure and no treatment. I was so moved I gave him a hug.

Because there's no treatment, and early diagnosis is challenging - my colleague is a rare exception - my friend is participating in a pre-clinical trial. It's not a clinical trial yet because there aren't any new potential drugs to test. But every few months he goes in for a brain MRI and to answer a series of questions, to give the researchers data to monitor the progression of his disease. I told him it was a great thing he was doing - with understanding comes the hope of an eventual treatment.

And my colleague told me that this diagnosis has inspired him to make the most of the good health he has left. He is traveling a bit more with his wife, visiting his kids and grands a little more often. He's trying to reduce stress at work, although to little avail.

So I have spent some of the evening trying to imagine how I would live my life if I knew I had a condition which could eventually degenerate into debilitating dementia or stroke. I am so very lucky to be in good health now, or at least to have the potential of good health, if I can stick to plan! My colleague is doing all he can to make the best of what he has; why is it so hard for me to do the same? Yes, time to buckle down, show some spine, and stick to doing the healthy things.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I sometimes look at someone else's struggles and it makes me aware that I am not as grateful as I should be, that I must always recognize blessings and appreciate them. It definitely gives you a different perspective as to what is important when you stop and consider how it would feel to know you have a terminal disease, what your priorities are. Sorry about your co-worker. He sounds very brave. Perhaps this study will help find something that will work.
    1838 days ago
    I think a brain degenerative disease would be even scarier than a disease affecting other parts of the body. I remember how in her final months, my mother sort of lost her mind. I don't know what happened. She was dying of kidney disease anyway, so we never pushed for an explanation of her sudden dementia. I mean, she still knew who we were, but something had definitely changed in her mind after her last surgery, and that was incredibly confusing for all of us. People's minds are affected in all kinds of ways. My own mother became even more combative than she had ever been before (and she had been pretty combative), but my husband's mother, in her Alzheimer's, has become placid and silent. She was always placid, but never silent. So you wonder--which is the real personality?

    But your colleague sounds as if he is taking such a wise approach. How generous of him to participate in a study that will benefit others, and how loving of him to spend more time with his family. Poignant story, Bemused. A lesson for us all. I know it must be hard to watch the progression of his disease.Thank you for sharing this.
    1838 days ago
    emoticon article!
    1838 days ago
    We take so much for granted and sometimes we don't realize it, until it's to late or when we come across a situation just like this! Your colleague is a brave man and his family as well! This kind of makes you take note of your own life. GOD BLESS
    1838 days ago
  • CHERYL4808
    Our health is precious and it's an eye opener when it can be suddenly affected in a way beyond our control. You are kind and your friend is strong. Health, kindness and strength come in many forms. Wishing you and your coworker the best of all 3.
    1838 days ago
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