Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4, 1939




"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift — that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body — it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed — that's the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for. Thank you."


-Lou Gehrig, terminally ill at age 36 with ALS (aka Motor Neuron Disease), in his retirement speech. He died less than 2 years later.

This post is dedicated to Spiritcove and Roy, facing ALS as best anyone can. This is likely the worst disease in neurology, if not all of medicine. It's been almost 200 years since the first published report on it, and effective treatment remains a mystery.

If you're looking for a cause to give money to, consider the ALS Association.

27 comments:

Claire said...

My mom died from this when I was 16. It is truly awful. I'm glad doctors hate it as much as I do.

Anonymous said...

I've cared for too many pts as they died of this disease. Hate it with a passion.

bobbie said...

A beautiful post, Dr. G ~
Thank you ~~~

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dr. Grumpy, for giving some perspective to those who consider a broken nail or a fender bender to be tragedies of epic proportions. May we all learn to live with a little more "grace under pressure".

Mandy said...

I lost my mother-in-law to ALS 6 years ago. It is not an easy way to go. I wish there was something, anything, that could be done to ease the suffering of ALS patients. Maybe someday.

GPMommy said...

Thank you for writing this post. I have two people in my life that are fighting bravely against this awful disease. It's terrible for anyone to have ALS, but that it seems to affect some of the most gracious and caring people makes it even harder to comprehend.

cliffy said...

A quote from a humble man with a mountain to face, thanking others for the kindness shown, is humbling to me. Well done grumpy!

memoriesfrozenintime said...

My mother passed away in March from ALS. Thank you so much for bringing attention to this terrible disease. Maybe someday, we can find a cure.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I lost my dad to ALS when I was young. It took his body on a very difficult journey from vigorous and active to weak and helpless in three short years, while in spite of that, he grew in depth of spirit. I have missed all of the conversations we would have had as I matured, and he missed meeting his grandchildren.

May there yet be an effective treatment for this terrible affliction.

Nancy said...

My precious grandfather suffered a horrible death from ALS. The ALS Association is one of the best you could ever donate to! This post is amazing. Thank's Dr. G.

Trista Sampson said...

My mother died from ALS complications when I in my early 20's. She was 54. It is a tragic disease. She would tell me that in her dreams, she would see herself running. Thank you for spreading the word.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, for this blog.

BizzyMomma said...

It is a horrible disease that seems to find the nicest people to afflict. My life is touched by about 20+ ALS patients whom I treat, with compassion. Damned be the disease...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this blog. Also, speaking of ALS, for anyone who happens to be in the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley area on July 29, 2012, please consider joining us for this rally for a good cause:
http://www.lvmoc.net/article.php/20120522183132104

Anonymous said...

My first impression was to marvel at how well Mr. Gehrig spoke. With all of the advantages given today's athletes, it's very disappointing that so many of them speak so poorly.

RehabRN said...

Grumpy:

Caring for ALS patients can be both rewarding and horribly sad.

Refer any of your ALS patients who are veterans to their local VA hospital.

ALS is now considered a service connected disability, and as such veterans are entitled to a number of benefits that can make their lives (and their families' lives) easier.

More information is here and at your local VA.

http://www.alsa.org/als-care/veterans/faqs-new-veterans.html

Anonymous said...

Loved this post but brought back a cascade of memories of setting up first night Bipaps, then suction equipment and feeding tubes then ventilators while looking for meaning in accounts like Tuesdays With Morrie and wondering about what strange variant attacked Stephen Hawking (my hero).

Anonymous said...

Huntingtons and Tay-Sachs are pretty shockingly nightmarish too.

Cheri @ La Joie de Vivre said...

I came for a laugh but had a cry instead. I lost my mom to ALS over a decade ago but it still seems fresh. That picture of Lou Gehrig always takes me back emotionally.

Mom was bulbar involved so her speech went early. That was particularly cruel since she was a natural-born talker (the apple does not fall far from the tree!).

We honored her by creating a Promise Fund this year. We promise to raise/give $25,000 over the next 5 years to benefit the Evergreen Chapter of ALSA. Our fund page includes her story, pictures and video. I'd be happy to help anyone else interested in creating a fund for your loved one. The National ALSA Association created this mechanism. Our site is: alsa.org/NormaFruchey

Mom seemed to find peace in the end and said she'd rather lose control of her body than her mind. She was always a positive person.

Anonymous said...

this is one of the few times, with diagnostic news, I struggle with tears when pronouncing the findings to patients and families...
thanks for bringing a great man ,and options on causes, to light.

K said...

Thank you. My Grandpa and Dad died from this, and thanks to some genetic testing I might have the gene. It's a truly horrible disease. I still can't get past the first page of Tuesdays with Morrie. Thanks for being the voice for people like Dad and Grandpa.

Alex Dreamz said...

Thanks, Dr. Grumpy - this was beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I used to live upstairs from Stephen Hawking when I was in grad school and he was still married to his first wife. Remarkable that he has lived as long as he has.

Class factotum said...

it seems to affect some of the most gracious and caring people makes it even harder to comprehend.

It seems that way with so many diseases: the nice people get them and mean people stay healthy for years.

Taryn said...

I am another who saw the ravages of ALS first hand. My mother died of this cruel disease at 53 and I was only 12. She would beg us to let her take the whole bottle of pain killers and just be done with it. Sadly, most of my memories of my mother are of her last years struggling against this disease.

Anonymous said...

My husband has ALS, after already losing half his lung function and sight to another disease. I would like to agree with your suggestion of contributing to the ALSA (to which we have donated equipment, but not money).

However, the infighting of MDA vs. ALSA and other factors constrains the funds they provide to patients in need, and makes the research effort less effective. Thus, I would encourage your readers to find an ALS patient or a promising researcher and hand him/her a check or something else s/he needs.

Thank you for your post.

Anonymous said...

There is also Team Gleason, founded by former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason. He is 35 and has ALS.

 
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