2006: Issue 5
No Matter What
The news of Dana Reeve’s death saddened me. No, I didn’t know her, except through the media. Yet, I held her in high regard – a woman of great passion, grace, dignity, talent, courage, and tenacity. A caregiver. A partner. A leader. A crusader. A pioneer. An advocate. Not shunning the limelight, but seemingly only wanting it if it was for the greater good of the whole. She made our country a better place. As did her husband.
In Issue 22 of Tiberius Rx…Simply Courage, I referenced an essay that was published shortly after Christopher Reeve’s death in Ode magazine, issue 22. It is one of my favorite and most frequently referenced writings for its humbling, awing and inspiring content. Demonstrations of courage in the powerful and mundane, and reminders of the power of its close cousin, fear, which so often overshadows, and truly paralyzes us.
A slightly different spin on living with courage is living fearlessly. The first line of Reeve’s essay is “I live a fearless life on a daily basis.” To do so, he not only had to face his prior fear of loosing control, but also the fear imposed on by others, including his physicians, who essentially gave him no hope of further recovery. Reeve doesn’t romanticize it; instead says we simply decided “we weren’t going to accept their absolutes” and they moved forward – through all of their own doubts; their feelings of sadness and hopelessness; wondering if it was worth it, did it matter; yet they went on – no matter what.
No matter that as the pioneer for treadmill walking therapy he experienced a fracture to his femur, a result of undiagnosed osteoporosis. Result – a new standard: do a bone density scan before putting compromised patients on the treadmill. Result for him – no more treadmill. No matter that as the first recipient of a diaphragm “pacemaker” he suffered severe infections and complications as his body rejected the devise.
Yet, he says, “… it is important to know that living a fearless life means that you might go through an experience that doesn’t actually work out for you. The way to stay positive, to avoid being bitter or feeling like a failure, is to look at the fact it might help somebody else.” And it did, for those who followed him have been able to come off the ventilator.
Reeve’s actions were aligned with his words, repeatedly. If he was pushing scientists to keep trying, physicians to keep believing, he had to too. And that he did. Ironically, it was the last chapter of his life that truly showed us what a super man he was. And his wife showed us a real life version of super woman.
Copyright 2006, Extra Ordinary Living, Inc. All rights reserved.