Thursday, March 27, 2014

First the competition, then the trophies



            Spring break and other happy inventions have lured family and friends out of town, except for my granddaughter Kristen. Her classes move her closer to her goal to become a physician assistant. A tough grad school program prepares students to “conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, prescribe medications, counsel on preventive health care and…assist in surgery.”

            She was up and out early this morning, but left briskly-brewed coffee to help her grandpa float into the day. It could not have been more mellow in its bright red Liverpool Football Club mug. It is the morning after a 2-1 encounter with Sunderland.

            All of a sudden everybody will be back home. Matt will return to the University of Chicago with three national swim meet trophies. Out in the state of Washington, Jacob and his high school team returned home to Kirkland with first place honors in a mind-boggling robotics competition. The next competition will be for Mike and fellow gymnasts, and not long after that will be his MIT graduation. While all this is going on, Katie prepares to be the fifth Veldman to graduate from Sandburg High School. She’ll follow Dan, now a regional general insurance adjuster, and Kristen into the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

            One reason I believe in God is that I don’t know how else to account for the favors I’ve been granted, especially Sally, my wife of constant memory, our children and their spouses, our grandchildren and my choice kinship with moms, dads, siblings and other in-laws. To believe in God, I might add, is to be hopeful.

            Every once in a while I update you about the progress of the rare disease I first acquired as OPCA, olivopontocerebellar atrophy, a form of parkinsonism. It is now known as MSA, multiple system atrophy, which is easier to spell but otherwise the same thing.

            Less than a month ago I moved out of my condo and into the cheerful home of my daughter and son-in-law, to which they added a sturdy stair riser, a spacious bedroom and bath for the stair riser rider, and plenty of space for my computer and its gadgets. Computers are treasures for folks who seldom leave home. They enable imaginations to go anywhere.

            All the while that I become slower and flimsier, I find that I have more time to be slow and more leisure to be flimsy. Not the best deal, maybe, but a deal. I tell people that I’m dizzy, but that’s because dizzy is the closest word I can think of to describe a complex feeling of being dazed, confused while spinning in a whirligig and occasionally tumbling. Bruises, yes, but nothing broken for the well padded.

            Even headaches  can be taken for granted, but some caution is called for to reduce choking. There are ways to communicate when lips sag into mumbling or the vocal cords freeze up, such as waving arms, rolling eyes or scribbling notes. There are things to do when eyes won’t process printed words for a while, or when a chapter just read vanishes.

            People with incurable diseases are not the only ones who deal with challenges. Everybody does, and everybody has satisfactions . We don’t get to make all the choices.
We don’t always know we’re making them.






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