Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I Cried. Then I Cried Some More...

11:30 PM Monday night, as my wife and son were asleep next to me, I cried. Not loud but soft as tears ran down my face. In fact, I cried myself to sleep. The tears came after I read the last sentence and closed the cover of the book 'Caddy for Life : The Bruce Edwards Story'. You're probably asking why I was crying over a book about golf. Well it's pretty simple: Bruce Edwards was Tom Watson's (my childhood golf hero) Caddy and this book is the story of his life and how he died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis otherwise known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Although I was a huge Tom Watson fan, I have to be honest that I never knew the name of his caddy, let alone know that he died. I was out of golf for the past few years and Bruce wasn't diagnosed until 2003 and died in 2004. During that period of time, I had become a father, lost my job, lost my home, and finally launched into a new career in early 2004. So as you can imagine, golf was the last thing I was concerned with. It was a real surprise when my boss told me about this book and how I needed to read it. After completing it, I am glad I did and although it's full of heartbreak, it's also an incredible story about two men with a 'David and Jonathon' type friendship. Pick it up and read it if you can, it's a good break from the constant stream of Christian books I had been reading.

Can we read too many Christian books? Personally, I think we all need a break from time to time to clean our reading glasses, clear our mind, and return with a new set of eyes. About two years ago, I realized that all I had been reading and writing was Christian in nature. I actually started to feel some burnout and that scared me. At the behest of my wife, she suggested I take a break and read something for fun that is outside of the "Christian Ghetto". What would I read for fun? I had already read all the Bill Bryson books, so I turned to my two life-long loves: Baseball and the New York Yankees. As fate would have it, the next morning, there was a special on the Today Show about a new book about the life and death of Lou Gehrig called 'The Luckiest Man'. I was excited about the interview with the author, so that night I picked up a copy and didn't set it down for a month as I read, re-read and took in every word. When I finished it, I realized that it was fun to read a non-Christian book and it also made me more, MUCH MORE, aware of the horrible disease ALS that is forever linked to the Yankee legend. I have even done my own research about treatments and charities that support finding a cure.

As of today, there is no cure for ALS and if you are diagnosed, you are told that no matter what you do, you have 1 to 5 years to live. But it's not that you will be fine and then just drop over dead in that time period. Actually, you will slowly waste away and loose the ability to speak, walk, use the bathroom, swallow, and eventually stop breathing. And, everyone around will watch you slowly die.

My father in law died in a similar manner but his disease was called AMYLOIDOSIS. His dieses also kills the body slowly much like ALS. But instead of attacking nerves, amyloidosis is a blood disorder in which you cannot rid your system of proteins and your body has no other choice than to deposit them in organs such as the kidneys, heart, and brain until it smothers our their proper function. Like ALS, my father in law's disease was hard on the family because all of us watched him waste away little by little. There were a few glimmers of hope, but nothing that lasted more than a day or so.

In closing, this life is tough and you can count on one thing: You will die one day. I am being drawn to supporting research for finding a cure for ALS and Amyloidosis and plan to become more involved in charities for both. But I am always reminded that on that fateful day, be it a heart attack, an accident, or heaven forbid a terrible disease such as ALS or amyloidosis, when we die there is really only one thing that matters and that is your relationship with God. No amount of money, research, snake oil, or stuff can change the fact that you will "Meet Your Maker" one day and be judged. Have you accepted or rejected Him? This is THE question you must researh and have an answer to before you die...


Andy said...

Good reminder (to me) to read stuff outside Christian theology, where I've been parked for some time. After finishing the book I'm currently in, I'll go elsewhere for my reading, since I also have several books outside the Christian realm that I have in my book stack.

That said, you should read "The Teammates" by the late David Halberstam, about Ted Williams and his Red Sox about a book that'll move you to tears...(even if it's anathema to a Yankee fan).

But hey, this is coming from a Giants fan who watched an HBO special about the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Marty Murray said...

While as far as I am aware there is no medical intervention that works to cure als, there are ways to solve it.

Als does not happen to people randomly. It develops when factors and patterns in a person's life come together in a certain way.

So by finding and changing those factors and patterns, one can solve the problem.

This method can also be used to solve other conditions such as amyloidosis.

All diseases are solvable. It's just a matter of being aware of how to do it.